A click of the shutter

I don’t have a waterproof camera

and my phone was wrapped in plastic, safe in a drybag,

for emergencies only.

And so I had no photos to share

to say I was there,

to try to convey the meaning of a moment.

But how often does a photograph really do that?

After all, there are other senses than sight.

So.

Bank holiday monday,

Coniston Water

the end of a scorching weekend.

Paddling south (first time in my canoe this year)

away from the crowds,

my arms remember how good it feels,

burn of working muscle

taking me further from the voices and barbecue smoke.

Past open water swimmers towing orange floats

who stop for a chat in the middle of the lake

unfazed by the deeps,

complaining of the cold water.

Past moored boats, and pine tree promentaries,

shingle beaches overhung with oaks,

until, at the south end of the lake

as yellow reeds narrow to reveal the start of a river,

I turn around to head back north and see

spread before me the calm lake

bordered by woods in the first flush of spring green,

low bracken-covered hills glowing

in the early evening sunshine,

the Coniston fells beyond, blue and slightly misty.

That is the moment I would have pressed the shutter.

But could that photograph record

the pleasant ache of shoulders and arms,

the gentle forward motion of the canoe,

the sound of water lapping,

a mind quietened to contentment?

One moment, containing

a sense of returning, of welcome,

a glimpse of childhood,

a farewell to winter,

and the seed of all the summers to come.

Everyday insights

Gripped by anxiety,

a looming hospital appointment,

I failed to notice the world outside

where the blackbird continued to sit on her nest in the rain,

and despite my unawareness

the symphony of spring carried on.

Then suddenly, I realized.

Anxiety again.

Welcome.

I don’t have to fight you any more

I just have to relax.

We are not separate,

you are not something to be held at bay

by techniques and force of mind.

You are a response to a situation,

my response.

Forgive me.

You have always been the frightened child

I pushed away.

Now you are welcome to rest here

until we both feel safe again.

A queen bee stopped on a flower, unnoticed,

unmoved by my revelation

as I wiped away a tear,

but I will remember.

Duddon Estuary

The clouds dispersed to reveal the estuary

domed with blue.

A cold north wind blowing

but in the shelter of a hedge

the sun felt warm, springlike

with birdsong

and the first frogspawn in a ditch.

The rising, full moon high tide paused

at the outer edge of the saltmarshes

where the birds gathered;

curlew, oystercatcher, redshank.

Then the sea quietly,

relentlessly, marched on over the marshes

scattering birds, forming islands of green

that gradually disappeared underwater.

A stream of sea pushed in past our feet

to the railway embankment

signalling the time to leave

this inbetween place

to the sea and sky

and the birds.

Counting birds

These graphs tell a story

A ski slope line runs from the year I was born,

Downhill to today.

A precipitous decline

In numbers

Or visualise it another way.

A gullimot fledgling’s daring plunge from the cliff,

The rapid whistling descent of a displaying snipe

The airborne dive of the gannet,

The mournful cry of a lone curlew.

The echoing silence of once busy seabird cliffs,

Fields full of crops, but empty of birds,

These graphs tell a story

But the story isn’t finished

How it ends is up to us.