Thursday, 26 February 2015

Twilight Moments …

The twilight zone.

That elusive time just before dawn and dusk.

These moments in the day fascinate and enthral me.  Each and every day they change, minute by minute they change.  No two are the same.  I have hundreds of photos in my archives.  To say I am an obsessed is perhaps an exaggeration but I do seem to take photos everyday of the sun setting or rising. I would have thought there was a special word for my condition, but on checking, have found there is none.  Maybe I should make one up – I am a Twilightologist – how’s that.

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“And yet day and night meet fleetingly at twilight and dawn," he said, lowering his voice again and narrowing his eyes and moving his head a quarter of an inch closer to hers. "And their merging sometimes affords the beholder the most enchanted moments of all the twenty four hours. A sunrise or sunset can be ablaze with brilliance and arouse all the passion, all the yearning, in the soul of the beholder.”
Mary Balogh, A Summer to Remember

“There's a sunrise and a sunset every single day, and they're absolutely free. Don't miss so many of them.”
Jo Walton

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Twilight drops her curtain down and pins it with a star - Lucy Maud Montgomery

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The past is the beginning of the beginning and all that is and has been is but the twilight of the dawn – H.G. Wells

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You cannot, in human experience, rush into the light.  You have to go through the twilight into the broadening day before the noon comes and the full sun is on the landscape – Woodrow Wilson

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Twilight – a time of pause when nature changes her guard.  All living things would fade and die from too much light or too much dark, if twilight were not. – Howard Thurman

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And as the evening twilight fades away the sky is filled with stars invisible by day. – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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Twilight, a timid fawn, went glimmering by, and Night, the dark-blue hunter, followed fast. – George Wm. Russell

Sometimes the camera just cannot capture the jaw-dropping beauty of the twilight zone and sometimes these moments just look so unreal that you cannot believe they actually happened.  Mother Nature is so generous with her gifts.  I applaud her.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Rainy Day Contemplation …

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I walked in the rain – on purpose  – I got wet (well, dampish) – on purpose.  I listened to the rain pit-pat on my umbrella.  I heard the sound of trees dripping and searched for their reflection in puddles.  I smelled the scent of the wet earth.*  I was alone on my walk – not another soul around; they were hiding indoors, afraid of getting wet; not me, I found it liberating – I enjoyed the singing of the birds which seemed louder than usual and their song echoed around me till I couldn’t guess which tree they were calling from.  It was a revelation; being aware and going with the weather instead of fighting against it.  The urge to make a dash for it was quashed – I didn’t exactly dance in the rain but could have had the mood taken me.

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The next day the sun returned and I bought yellow tulips to celebrate.

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On the fifth day, which was a Sunday, it rained very hard. I like it when it rains hard. It sounds like white noise everywhere, which is like silence but not empty.”
Mark Haddon

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Your body is drip-dry. You are not made of sugar and you won't melt in the rain. Most of us had concerned mothers who wouldn't let us step outside without being swathed in all manner of rain gear, and thought we would surely die if we got wet. You won't. Trust me. There is no reason to stop walking just because the rainy season has arrived. Whether it is April showers or autumn drizzle, you can boldly walk among the raindrops and survive.

via Health Matters

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“The richness of the rain made me feel safe and protected; I have always considered the rain to be healing—a blanket—the comfort of a friend. Without at least some rain in any given day, or at least a cloud or two on the horizon, I feel overwhelmed by the information of sunlight and yearn for the vital, muffling gift of falling water.”
Douglas Coupland

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“Halfway home, the sky goes from dark grey to almost black and a loud thunder snap accompanies the first few raindrops that fall. Heavy, warm, big drops, they drench me in seconds, like an overturned bucket from the sky dumping just on my head. I reach my hands up and out, as if that can stop my getting wetter, and open my mouth, trying to swallow the downpour, till it finally hits me how funny it is, my trying to stop the rain. […] Instead of hurrying to higher ground, I jump lower, down off the curb, splashing through the puddles, playing and laughing all the way home. In all my life till now, rain has meant staying inside and not being able to go out to play. But now for the first time I realize that rain doesn't have to be bad.
Antwone Quenton Fisher

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“Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet.”
Roger Miller

And, of course, a lovely day ends in a beautiful sunset.

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So there we have it -  my contemplation of a rainy day in February.  We have had hardly any rain where I live this winter, so I thought it deserved special mention.  Of course my view could well change if it rains all summer – but we won’t think about that just yet.

*Did you know there is a word for the scent of the earth after rain – Petrichor – invented by two Australian scientists in 1964 studying the smells of wet weather.

Footnote:  After walking in the rain and working in the garden in a cold wind I seem to have caught a chill – so much for going out in all weathers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Can Spring Be Far Behind?…

“If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”
Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ode to the West Wind

tete a tete daffodil - first day of spring

Have you ever wondered where the word ‘spring’ comes from?

Old English springan "to leap, burst forth, fly up; spread, grow"

“Spring”, referring to a season rather than the many other meanings of the word, first popped up in the 16th century.  Starting in the 14th century, this time of year was called “springing time” and then in the 15th century this got shortened to “spring-time”, and then further shortened in the 16th century to just “spring”.  The 14th century “springing time” came about in reference to plants “springing” from the ground and the like.  Before the season was called these things, it was called “Lent” in Old English.

The snow has gone, no hard frosts for a few days – Sunday and Monday were almost Spring-like.  Blue skies, no cold wind,  warm sunshine.  So I thought I would search for signs of Spring.

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“It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want—oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!”
Mark Twain

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  The miniature daffodils bulbs in my kitchen burst into flower – making me smile with their bright cheery trumpets.

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  As I walk past the reservoir the water is frozen except for a small ribbon in the middle – ducks and geese stand on the ice looking perplexed and bewildered.

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As I walked the village I spied Snowdrops opening, shining white against the dark brown soil,  tiny harbingers of Spring.

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The rose hips at the front of the house catching the sun – a little colour in an otherwise dreary garden.

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Hazel catkins glow golden in the sunlight.

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The back fields empty of sheep fold over one another in  plump cushions of grass, the old sheep trails meandering through.

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Look closely at the elder bush, the first signs of leaves unfurling, the earliest of the trees to show their readiness for warmer weather.

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A Blue Tit inspecting a nest box with a Robin looking on.

These are all good signs – and today I saw a sparrow with a beakful of nesting material – spring surely is on its way.  And just for good measure I have added this charming painting of Snowdrops – delightful!

Lucy Grossmith (heart-to-art) - Chickens in a Winter Garden

Chickens in a Winter Garden - Lucy Grossmith - Heart to Art

“That is one good thing about this world...there are always sure to be more springs.”
L.M. Montgomery

Friday, 6 February 2015

The Snow-Walkers …

I have been unseasonably cheerful this winter – I don’t know what’s wrong with me – gone are thoughts of hibernation – gone is the desire to snuggle up in front of the fire – I think a visit to the doctor is called for to check as to why I am so chirpy.  Could it be that I am actually enjoying winter for a change!

When we woke up last Friday morning to  this -

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and this -

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instead of cranking the heating up or going back to bed – I said come on, let’s go for a walk before it disappears.  And so we did.  A chance to wear my, as yet, unused snow boots.

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and I have to say my feet were as toasty as toasty things.  As we ventured out I felt myself smiling – to have a good fall of snow doesn’t happen very often, it gave me a childlike pleasure, and I intended to make the most of it.  We wandered the lanes taking photographs – it is hard not to when everything looked so lovely. 

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How can anyone not like the transformation that snow brings – it becomes a world in monochrome – even the starkness of a winter hedgerow becomes a thing of beauty  when covered in sugar frosting.

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It is the life of the crystal, the architect of the flake, the fire of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam.  This crisp winter air is full of it. ~ John Burroughs

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Of winter’s lifeless world each tree now seems a perfect part; Yet each one holds summer’s secret; Deep down within its heart. ~ Charles Stater

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We feel cold, but we don’t mind it, because we will not come to harm.  And if we wrapped up against the cold, we wouldn’t feel other things, like the bright tingle of the stars, or the music of the Aurora, or best of all the silky feeling of moonlight on our skin.  It’s worth being cold for that. ~ Philip Pullman, Northern Lights

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On the contrary, I put up a petition annually, for as much snow, hail, frost, or storm, of one kind or other, as the skies can possibly afford us.  Surely every body is aware of the divine pleasures which attend a winter fire-side; candles at four o’clock, warm hearth-rugs, tea, a fair tea-maker, shutters closed, curtains flowing in ample draperies on the floor, whilst the wind and rain are raging audibly without … ~ Thomas De Quincey

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Welcome winter.  Your late dawns and chilled breath make me lazy, but I love you nontheless. ~ Terri Guillmets

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“Every gardener knows that under the cloak of winter lies a miracle … a seed waiting to sprout, a bulb opening to the light, a bud straining to unfurl.  And the anticipation nurtures our dream.” ~ Barbara Winkler"

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People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they are happy ~ Anton Chekov

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You can’t get too much winter in the winter ~ Robert Frost

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Am I a changed woman?– will this feeling last ?– will I become a winter person instead of a summer one? Who knows?   Maybe it’s just the snow.  But I am  enjoying these winter delights – drinking it all in instead of moaning about it.  Sorry about all the cheerfulness – it’s nauseating isn’t it, especially if you can’t wait for winter to be over.  Happy Days!

Monday, 2 February 2015

Down in Frosted Hollows … The Land That Time Forgot …

 

    When I show you photographs of the countryside where I live it is usually on walks around the village, the fields behind my home and the soft undulating hills.  But if you go deeper inland you will find something much more primeval.  Places where glaciers gouged out the landscape many millions of years ago.

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    There are thickets of trees, ancient hedgerows, streams and ponds – places to explore with no sign of human habitation.  Mostly it is grazing land around us but down in the hollows only mares tails grow, the land is soggy and the streams run swiftly.  Trees fall down and no one hears them as they creak and crash to the ground.

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     Foxes hunt down their prey with no interference and rooks and crows gather in the treetops kaaking and cawing in conversation.  If you look closely you will see the burrows of rabbits dug between the roots of trees, and badgers holts in the side of soft-earthed banks, evidence of their occupation from the soil that has been removed and deposited outside.  If you look up you will see buzzards circling and soaring, mewling to one another as they keep an eye on the ground below, ready to swoop on an unsuspecting mouse or shrew.

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    In autumn wild field mushrooms grow at your feet and the hedgerows are full of berries, because no one ventures down here to pick them, and the only people to pass through are the odd pack of walkers following the public  footpaths across the fields, a relic of the days when it was the shortest way between villages.

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    It is a secret place -  I always feel as though I am stepping through history when I am down here, there is a medieval fish pond and a small pumping station that was used when the water supply to the village was short.  (At the side of our house we have an old well, the water from which was used to wash clothes, we still have the hand pump that was removed when the well was filled in).

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     The field directly behind our house is called Brabazon Field  named after Sir William Brabazon who owned the land many centuries ago – and if you look carefully on a dry day in summer you can see the grass is paler in colour where it has grown over the foundations of his Manor House.  The area is steeped in history and the oldest house in the village that is still standing was of cruck construction and built in the 1600’s.

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     When I was a child I loved to go exploring; a free range girl who made up stories and told little white lies.  As an adult, I know my younger self would have  loved to make a den down here in the hollows, where she could retreat into a world of her own; a world of make believe that I have never quite grown out of.