May 23, 2013
Rather shocked to see that I haven’t been to Chelsea for 3 years. Years ago, it was an event to look forward to – the development of show gardens, sound second hand book stalls where work by Sylvia Crowe and Nan Fairbrother could be found, the design tent (my home for many years) and mostly the delight of Beth Chatto’s stand in the Grand Marquee. Now, Twitter, Facebook et al tells us exactly what we’ll find so the sense of discovery doesn’t exist. The sun used to shine too, on the odd occasion. Yesterday, the place was packed. We shuffled around trying to poke a nose over shoulders of crowds that appeared to be looking at exhibits but of course were gawping at the TV celebs busy filming. Due to the heavy cloud and the bitter cold, I made straight for the flowers . . . inside . . . .
. . classy stand created by Avon Bulbs. Deep maroon Tulipa ‘Paul Scherer’, white fringed Tulipa ‘Daytona’, Allium ‘White Empress’ and Anthericum liliago major stood serene. Hard to miss is Sue from Crug Farm Plants – colourful gear and great jewellery - manning the display of foliage rich specimens. Many are grown from seed collected from annual plant hunting expeditions. Show stopper here is Disporum longistyllum with black and green stems standing proud.
As sculptural, but to be pitied, a large excavated tree on the East Malling Research Stand with all roots exposed. Folks edged around it nervously and were supposed to wonder at how ‘scientific knowledge can be focused on rootstocks and growing techniques, through to the modern application of genetic studies to advance fruit culture’. Boffins can be brutal! To the other extreme, opulence and pure decoration from the Far East but quite hideous . . .
. . stonking lupins and touches of ethereal beauty - geum, verbascum and ladybird poppies – created by Rosy Hardy
The light’s quite strange inside the Grand Marquee and I’m nowhere in terms of photography which is a frustrating combination. Below is the evidence, oh dear. Beautiful and imaginative display of cascading amaryllis badly captured. This stand by the Dutch firm of Warmenhoven showing their fabulous bulbs upwards and downwards ticked all the boxes for me and, amazingly enough, for the RHS, and we hardly ever agree.
Well, outside I shivered but this lady carried off her outing with great aplomb and I did see a few hats and remembered Jane accordingly.
A few of the show gardens warrant some exposure here. Ulf Nordfell designed this for Laurent-Perrier. Simple, clean and classical. Sleek, calm and contemporary. Exquisite use of crafted materials – soft and sublime planting – all excellent. However, I much preferred his Linnaeus Garden of 2007. And someone has just asked Why? Well, the narrative in that garden was strong, clear and compelling – that’s my answer.
Unfortunately for Ulf, he was partnered alongside this great spectacle seen below . . .
. . Christopher Bradley – Hole designed this . . . he can do the narrative so well. And he courageously filled the space with plants and let us rest our elbows on green oak balustrade so we could breath it all in and, of course, admire his skill and that of the contractor.
The inspiration cane from the English countryside - field patterns and native plants with some Japanese overtones and a little Mien Ruys too perhaps? But I didn’t mention that to him – next time perhaps . . .
. . the profiles of green oak and charred oak that wrap 2 sides of the garden have caused a stir.
And something that caused another stir is The Trailfinders Australian Garden. On the rock bank and filled with glorious plants like Brachtrichon rupestris sourced from a nursery in Sicily. The chaps on the stand were thrilled with their Best in Show – such enthusiasm rubbed off all around.
The product stands at the show have their share of hideous rubbish . . . a strange dichotomy . . . well designed ( mostly!!) show gardens and quite lovely plants on the nursery stands and pure crap on the product stalls. This ghastliness above loomed over the small ‘Fresh’ gardens where designers are asked to be brave and challenge preconceptions. Some achieved this and some didn’t quite. I liked this - Digital Capabilities – where the concept of engagement of technology and physical space was explored by Harfleet and Harfleet. The degree of Twitter activity manipulated the movement of screens.
And this garden ‘After the Fire’ was also popular especially with me. After last summer’s spell in Languedoc and Provence enjoying the garrigue landscape, this little landscape connected completely. Regeneration of plant life following forest fires . . . seed collected by Kelways and nurtured to provide some of the planting. Huddled amongst the burnt stems are members of the Mediterranean Garden Society from Greece and France
Always interesting to see and learn how recycled materials can be used effectively as on The Wasteland but I didn’t understand the planting especially the siting of 3 blowsy pink rhodos! Echoes of the past.
But I did understand this stand of Sneeboer garden tools. Best thing to finish off with and good to see you again James Aldridge!
The following were not allowed in the house:
A lone glove, dropped.
The new moon’s crescent glimpsed in the mirror.
The sky-spars of an open umbrella.
There was also the rubic of May
and its blossoms. Granny barred the door
against hawthorn and the sloe,
even the rowan with its friendly acrid smell of underwear,
so that Bride the white goddess
could not dance herself in from the moor,
or too much beauty break and enter
her winter store of darkness. Alison Fell 5 May
May 1, 2013
Today, May 1st, a walk beckoned to loosen up stiff limbs from days sitting in cars, sitting at desks, sitting doing drawings on screen, sitting . . . although a session of stretching in a yoga class was helpful last night. A walk to the The Long Man at Wilmington was an attractive idea that quickly evolved into a necessity. This man is a landmark clearly visible from the road and the train that connects Eastbourne to Brighton. He’s also called the Giant and the Green Man and, is thought to be from the Iron Age or neolithic period, but is most likely 16th or 17th C. On the journey from the village to the point where the visitor can climb up gradually to his feet, he plays the game of hiding and then being revealed.
Eric Ravilious painted this view in water colours at the start of the 2nd war. Interesting to read his fascination with chalk figures.
At 70m in length, so the height of 40 men, but with no visible baggage. Is he a eunuch? I’m afraid I got a little bored with him especially on discovering that he isn’t made from chalk at all but from concrete blocks . . . . and turned to look about to the surrounding views but thought how lucky he is to see these views all of the time.
Stunning wind swept hawthorns litter the Downs here and reminded me of a painting by Harold Mockford, ’Asleep on the Downs’, which is the last thing I see at night and the first thing I see in the morning.
Primroses and wild violets carpet the tufty grassy surface we walk on and skylarks swoop in pairs above our heads . . .
. . . . towards Newhaven, where Harold lives, a rather interesting pincer movement of landscape features swirl around the rising land and, just turning to Birling Gap, the White Horse becomes visible.
Tumuli and chalk pits provide the ups and the downs of this landscape occupied by the ‘locals’ .
Before the crops fully vegetate, the strong echoing lines of the machine rolling over the landscape are still visible . . . .
. . chalk and flint, the indigenous materials of The Sussex Downs.
When I walk up on the downs
I think of things you nearly said.
Skylarks broke through the cloudless skies,
bristly oxtongue snared my boots.
I’m sorry that I went away.
In the grass which we had flattened
purple clover kissed wild thyme.
I looked at you. You had not spoken
chalk and wind and sea blown words.
Untroubled plantain gazed at us,
salad burnet, hurt, eyebright.
We could make it work this time.
Only mouse-ears heard the things,
high on the downs, you early said. Pam Hughes. Whispers
April 28, 2013
This view of the road from El Calafate going west into Parque Nacional de los Glaciares reminds me of the poster for Thelma and Louise. What lies over the hill and round the bends? We chose to visit the Glaciar Perito Moreno about 80 kms from town. Glaciers – well, of course, I’d seen all the info on the web about the ice cap that spreads across Chile, the Andes and into Santa Cruz and, also have a vague memory of a ski guide pointing out a far off glacier in the Alps. Round each bend the sense of expectation grew . . . .
. . . until at last.
The guide books describe it as ‘a long white tongue’. Good description. You can get close by boat – just discernible in the image below - but we chose to get straight onto the series of platforms and connecting walkways – steps + ramps – that enable a decent, 3 km, journey through the Nothofagus woodland covering the end of the Peninsula Magellanes.
Nothofagus pumilio (lenga) and N. antartica (ńires) but I couldn’t identify one from the other . . .
. . . we learnt that this is the only glacier in the National Park that is not receding but is growing. At the terminus, the width is 5 kms in width and 74m high above the surface of the water of Lago Argentino and the total ice depth here is 170 metres. Data that gives an idea of the scale. Further north at El Chalten, it’s possible to trek on the ice from October to April. The lack of figures in these pics indicates end of season – great for us!
Views across the Canal de los Tempanos are accompanied with a sound track of cracking sounds, as the ice breaks away, and then, the deep crashing noise as ice hits water.
So blue . . . this occurs when snow falls on a glacier, is compressed, and becomes part of the glacier. During the journey down to the water body, the trapped air bubbles are squeezed out and so the size of the crystals increase making it clear. One of us thought it looked a bit dirty . . . but then landscapes are . . .
. . we took off on the north path where the wind whistled through the narrow channels and, consequently, we lost most of our fellow visitors. It started raining and if the wind had been stronger, it would have been a difficult exercise.
This was probably the most atmospheric and magical part of the experience for me. Taxing on the leg muscles and slightly desolate but the route provided a strong connection with the landscape.
Back to the main platform and a final inhalation of great pure air. ‘Take a long look. It might be the last’.
The silent friendliness of the moon
(misquoting Virgil) accompanies you
since that one night or evening lost
in time now, on which your restless
eyes first deciphered her forever
in a garden or patio turned to dust.
Forever? I know someone, someday
will be able to tell you truthfully:
‘You’ll never see the bright moon again,
You’ve now achieved the unalterable
sum of moments granted you by fate.
Useless to open every window
in the world. Too late. You’ll not find her.’
We live discovering and forgetting
that sweet familiarity of the night.
Take a long look. It might be the last. Jorge Luis Borges The Sum
April 21, 2013
On Saturday, The School Creative Centre hosted a drawing workshop run by Anny Evason, based on her installation of A Garden Enclosed – click for more information on this event. The banks of the River Rother, running through Rye, were chosen. Appropriate for an easy journey through natural vegetation alongside the river as it meanders between the coastline at Camber Sands and the junction that feeds into the Military Canal. I was interested to explore this strip of land again, having only walked it with baby in push chair as well as on a foraging expedition. To the north, small lakes have developed following gravel extraction and to the south, Rye is sometimes hidden and then revealed again behind the bunded river banks.
There are young pines here – maybe 20 years old only – that stand out amongst all the deciduous material. Their candelabra form makes a great visual contrast - rather seducing in terms of drawing and sketching. I recall this hedge of chaenomeles from the previous visits. It looks incongruous in these surroundings but actually has great charm.
Stands of alder and willow are just changing appearance as the buds swell on the branches but the reeds still have their wintry look. We made initial sketches using pencil or graphite or directly onto ipads. I made the decision to do quick 15 minute sketches using graphite pencils and squinting with the right eye . . . .
Thickets of buckthorn alongside the gorse – both with the similar spiky attribute – form good habitat structure. The old knarled stems of the gorse were particularly attractive to my eye in this scenario. Full sun threw shadows across the sketchbook. Looked perfect for how I wanted to capture form, shape and habit.
Pairs of lambs graze these low lying meadows. They’re oblivious to all the cyclists, dog walkers and those on drawing workshops . . .
. . this was drawing that I chose to develop into a larger charcoal study using ‘bold mark making’ when we returned into the art room at the centre ‘to explore new techniques, develop skills and to work on large scale drawings’. Not terribly happy with the final result which I worked up on a A1 sheet but then the last time I used charcoal was many years ago doing life drawing on an art foundation course. It was good to concentrate on single inspirational ideas and blot out the mundane things of life.
Farm afternoons, there’s too much blue air.
I go out sometimes, follow the pasture track,
Chewing a blade of sticky grass, chest bare,
In threadbare pyjamas of three summers back.
To the little rivulets in the river-bed
For a drink of water, cold and musical,
And if I spot in the bunch a glow of red,
A raspberry, spit its blood at the corral.
The smell of cow manure is delicious.
The cattle look at me unenviously
And when there comes a sudden stream and hiss
Accompanied by a look not unmalicious,
All of us, animals, unemotionally
Partake together of a pleasant piss. Vinicius de Moraes Sonnet of Intimacy
translation Elizabeth Bishop
April 2, 2013
Long journeys are a time for reflection. I rather enjoy the passivity of lounging around airport lounges, listening to music, people watching, reading and generally taking a view on areas of life. I write lots of notes that I never look at again but, I find this outpouring from my brain and soul, a therapeutic process. However, I’m not so keen on the business of travel connections - will this flight arrive on time to pick up the next easily? - will I make it across a city by bus to jump on the right plane? – do I have time to race from one terminal to another ? – this is the part of travelling that I find stressful. At Frankfurt – a very glamorous airport – no hassle and a 6 hour spell spent horizontal on the comfortable loungers that gently ripple and keep the circulation at the right level.
Early morning arrival at Buenos Aires – warm and sunny – and a trip across the city to catch the next flight. From the bus, a glimpse of the Plata and some fishing activity . . .
. . . from the terminal building, the proximity of the water makes an appealing landscape whilst inside, a memorial to servicemen who fell in the Malvinas makes me step back and ponder on the reasoning of the placement of this type of monument in such a busy concourse. Perhaps that’s the rationale: stop and think.
Flying above La Pampa, the beauty of the terrain . . . minimal human interference on the ground but we flying overhead disturb the environment nevertheless.
The final act is a show stopper – the Andes in full glory.
Down on the ground, the journey continues after catching up with a special couple. The three of us set off on The Old Patagonian Express for a short chug along the track through the flat dry landscape around El Maiten and Esquel. It’s a marvel of reconstruction and perseverance .Click to see the video of a derail.
Marvelling at the fittings and the minuteness of scale, decide that we are heavy, lumpen passengers. It’s time to get back on my feet and move all limbs and breathe in the good air around this tree filled landscape – try to lose the heaviness of the human body. The poem, ah well, somehow arriving by water might have been more exciting. The next leg is 28 hours on a bus . . .
Here is a coast; here is a harbor;
here, after a meager diet of horizon, is some scenery:
impractically shaped and–who knows?–self-pitying mountains,
sad and harsh beneath their frivolous greenery,
with a little church on top of one. And warehouses,
some of them painted a feeble pink, or blue,
and some tall, uncertain palms. Oh, tourist,
is this how this country is going to answer you
and your immodest demands for a different world,
and a better life, and complete comprehension
of both at last, and immediately,
after eighteen days of suspension?
Finish your breakfast. The tender is coming,
a strange and ancient craft, flying a strange and brilliant rag.
So that’s the flag. I never saw it before.
I somehow never thought of there being a flag,
but of course there was, all along. And coins, I presume,
and paper money; they remain to be seen.
And gingerly now we climb down the ladder backward,
myself and a fellow passenger named Miss Breen,
descending into the midst of twenty-six freighters
waiting to be loaded with green coffee beaus.
Please, boy, do be more careful with that boat hook!
Watch out! Oh! It has caught Miss Breen’s
skirt! There! Miss Breen is about seventy,
a retired police lieutenant, six feet tall,
with beautiful bright blue eyes and a kind expression.
Her home, when she is at home, is in Glens Fall
s, New York. There. We are settled.
The customs officials will speak English, we hope,
and leave us our bourbon and cigarettes.
Ports are necessities, like postage stamps, or soap,
but they seldom seem to care what impression they make,
or, like this, only attempt, since it does not matter,
the unassertive colors of soap, or postage stamps–
wasting away like the former, slipping the way the latter
do when we mail the letters we wrote on the boat,
either because the glue here is very inferior
or because of the heat. We leave Santos at once;
we are driving to the interior. Elizabeth Bishop Arrival at Santos
April 1, 2013
In the country of pampas and araucaria, Patagonia . . . . here at last.
Here in the Argentine area of Patagonia in San Carlos de Bariloche in the foothills of the Andes is the oldest national park in Argentina – Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi – 2 million acres of three zonal types of vegetation. Today, March 31st, we spent time in the lower reaches of the hills (Andino-Patagonico). Nahuel Huapi comes from the Mapuche for jaguar island. Many lakes and islands are encompassed within the parque with the largest, Lago Nahuel Huapi, a water body of nearly 850 square kilometres whose seven long arms reach deep into the forests of native beech Coihué (Nothofagus dombeyi) and deciduous beech, Lenga, (Nothofagus pumilio), pines and cypress. Entering these cathedrals of vegetation is awe inspiring. The eerie sound that emanates from the branches and canopies weaving around in the breeze overhead sounds like the sound effect from a horror film – the squeaky door announcing the arrival of the villain.!
Thick underplanting of Chusquea gigantea, another native, adds to the cinematic character of the forest. Very graphic in texture, whether at the end of its life or regenerating in green clumps. And elegant in form as the canes bend gracefully over pathways.
Certain view points high above the lake offer far-reaching panoramas of the snow-capped mountain range . . . .
. . whilst at close quarters flashes of exotic colour from other natives such as Embothrium coccineum - weird and wonderful tubular flower heads - and the species moschata rose that proliferates in the sunny open clearings.
The myrtles are in flower – sweetly scented clusters of small, perfectly rounded cups of waxy white blooms – but it is the form of the stems and the texture of the soft cinnamon bark that takes the eye.. . .
. . . late summer effects of ‘things that slip to silence one by one’.
March days return with their covert light,
and huge fish swim through the sky,
vague earthly vapours progress in secret,
things slip to silence one by one.
Through fortuity, at this crisis of errant skies,
you reunite the lives of the sea to that of fire,
grey lurchings of the ship of winter
to the form that love carved in the guitar.
O love, O rose soaked by mermaids and spume,
dancing flame that climbs the invisible stairway,
to waken the blood in insomnia’s labyrinth,
so that the waves can complete themselves in the sky,
the sea forget its cargoes and rages,
and the world fall into darkness’s nets. Neruda March Days
December 11, 2012
In Winchelsea, in a garden looking towards Rye, both ‘ports of stranded pride’ in the Romney Marsh landscape as tagged by Rudyard Kipling. Years ago, in Roman and Norman times, both towns were ports where the sea washed this land.
I like the effect that the iphone pix have when fiddled with in instagram software - just playing around, of course. Looking within and beyond the site, wondering what to do with it . . . noting the structure of the trees, hedging, spatial areas in the winter landscape. My knowledge of Winchelsea is just about OK but I thought to roam around the outlaying landscape to breathe in a little more . . . .
. . . down Monks Walk towards Wickham Manor Farm, the road passes under the New Gate. A flock huddled around the structure – looked interested and then quickly looked bored – picturesque nevertheless. These pastures were owned by William Penn. . . .and below is a wall of an almshouse. Stunning as a landmark now but humble as a piece of construction.
The views framed by the streetscape (horrible planners terminology) must have been fairly breathtaking before the arrival of the car and vehicle parking lining each street. I had to crop out the cars to get a feel of how things were – not much left but . . .
. . . attached to the gable of the Old Court Hall is an elaborate piece of metalwork that may have been a hoist or . . . .
. . . and the other major building standing slap bang in the middle of the town is the church – the new church as the previous late 12C building was battered by high tides and, in the mid 13C, and finally destroyed by floods that changed the course of the river Rother. Edward 1 was instrumental in the siting of the ‘new town’. It remains unclear whether the arches that stand like wings were left incomplete or left to fall as ruins on this 2 acre site . . . lovely stone from Normandy.
Spike Milligan lies here . . . somewhere . . . in a graveyard surrounded by exquisite houses. I hope, and am completely sure, that the towns folk follow his advise:
People who live in glass houses
Should pull the blinds
When removing their trousers. Spike Milligan
Humble head gently overseeing all who pass through the grounds. Some thoughts and experiences to ruminate on – useful and thanks to the small town with a modest but well heeled character.
God gave all men all earth to love,
But since are hearts are small,
Ordained for each one spot should prove
Belovèd over all;
That, as He watched Creation’s birth,
So we, in godlike mood,
May of our love create our earth
And see that it is good.
So one shall Baltic pines content,
As one some Surrey glade,
Or one the palm-grove’s droned lament
Before Levuka’s Trade.
Each to his choice, and I rejoice
The lot has fallen to me
In a fair ground — in a fair ground —
Yea, Sussex by the sea!
No tender-hearted garden crowns,
No bosomed woods adorn
Our blunt, bow-headed, whale-backed Downs,
But gnarled and writhen thorn —
Bare slopes where chasing shadows skim,
And, through the gaps revealed,
Belt upon belt, the wooded, dim,
Blue goodness of the Weald.
Clean of officious fence or hedge,
Half-wild and wholly tame,
The wise turf cloaks the white cliff-edge
As when the Romans came.
What sign of those that fought and died
At shift of sword and sword?
The barrow and the camp abide,
The sunlight and the sward.
Here leaps ashore the full Sou’West
All heavy-winged with brine,
Here lies above the folded crest
The Channel’s leaden line;
And here the sea-fogs lap and cling,
And here, each warning each,
The sheep-bells and the ship-bells ring
Along the hidden beach.
We have no waters to delight
Our broad and brookless vales —-
Only the dewpond on the height
Unfed, that never fails —
Whereby no tattered herbage tells
Which way the season flies —
Only our close-bit thyme that smells
Like dawn in Paradise.
Here through the strong unhampered days
The tinkling silence thrills;
Or little, lost, Down churches praise
The Lord who made the hills:
But here the Old Gods guard their ground,
And, in her secret heart,
The heathen kingdom Wilfred found
Dreams, as she dwells, apart.
Though all the rest were all my share,
With equal soul I’d see
Her nine-and-thirty sisters fair,
Yet none more fair than she.
Choose ye your need from Thames to Tweed,
And I will choose instead
Such lands as lie ‘twixt Rake and Rye,
Black Down and Beachy Head.
I will go out against the sun
Where the rolled scarp retires,
And the Long Man of Wilmington
Looks naked towards the shires;
And east till doubling Rother crawls
To find the fickle tide,
By dry and sea-forgotten walls,
Our ports of stranded pride.
I will go north about the shaws
And the deep ghylls that breed
Huge oaks and old, the which we hold
No more than Sussex “weed”;
Or south where windy Piddinghoe’s
Begilded dolphin veers,
And black beside the wide-bankèd Ouse
Lie down our Sussex steers.
So to the land our hearts we give
Till the sure magic strike,
And Memory, Use and Love make live
Us and our fields alike —
That deeper than our speech and thought,
Beyond our reason’s sway;
Clay of the pit whence we were wrought
Yearns to its fellow clay.
God gave all men all earth to love,
But since are hearts are small,
Ordained for each one spot should prove
Belovèd over all;
Each to his choice, and I rejoice
The lot has fallen to me
In a fair ground — in a fair ground —
Yea, Sussex by the sea! Rudyard Kipling Sussex
December 2, 2012
A visit to Rye – to the dentist - just by the church. Amusing comments from others in the waiting room – “it’s just the thought of the dentists that makes one feel nervous” – ” I’ve never really been hurt” – ” I dread it”. Fortunately, for me, it’s never a bad experience as luckily my dentist is brilliant. I wander down through the town walls feeling mellow rather like the sheep grazing on the marshes by the river Rother. Back on the road home – the Royal Military Road at the junction with Sea Road at the base of the Winchelsea hill, temporary traffic lights provide an opportunity to pause and view down the stretch of land carved out by the construction of the canal. Beautiful tones on the rushes – but no sheep.
Having negotiated the hair pin bends around the base of the town and started to pick up speed on the down hill run after Rectory Lane, a large flock came into view captured in the geometric areas formed by the network of ditches and streams . . . .
. . . quiet and ‘nothing to shout about’ willows line the stream . . . .
The ancient mounds that hold the ridge of Monks’ Walk form a spectacular background.
Off they scuttle – across my idea of a seventh heaven landscape.
The hills step off into whiteness.
People or stars
Regard me sadly, I disappoint them.
The train leaves a line of breath.
Horse the colour of rust,
Hooves, dolorous bells -
All morning the
Morning has been blackening,
A flower left out.
My bones hold a stillness, the far
Fields melt my heart.
To let me through to a heaven
Starless and fatherless, a dark water. Sylvia Plath A Sheep in the Fog
November 11, 2012
Today, in Brede High Woods, sunshine floods across the ancient and secondary woodlands – very muddy underfoot after rain yesterday and basically since last March!. The land is managed by the Woodland Trust with some areas of the original planting of broad leaf trees – beech, hornbeam and coppiced sweet chestnut – still retained and some re planting when areas of old coniferous trees are felled. So grid planting of beech, as seen above, interweave with single specimens of oak and beech . . .
. . . a sweet perfume filtered through the trees, perhaps from flowering ivy – holly was evident so it seemed natural to think there was ivy hiding somewhere. . . .
. . . signs of old practices too. Ancient hornbeams with powerful exposed roots had obvious signs of the original layering method of a laid hedge. The roots now form sheltered crevices for blechnum ferns. Sunken lanes, or holloways, banks and ditches are landscape features as well as sawpits and iron-ore extraction pits, ruined buildings and other lumps and bumps.
Other growths erupt from trunks.
Open heathland is being cleared and restored and looked beautiful – but the whole atmosphere quickly changed as a dog off the lead came crashing through the tree stand chasing a couple of fallow deer. This is OK, apparently, as the owner thinks it’s good for the deer’s heart rate! The deer escaped but the impression was that this was how the dog – many others were off the lead too – was exercised.
Small ponds, springs and streams run through the woods following a course down to Powdermill Reservoir – fine reflection today.
I must admit to not being a great rememberer on Remembrance Day – which is marked today. I do remember carrying the flag whilst a girl guide (that only lasted a short time) chosen because I was tall enough to deal with the big flag at a Remembrance Day service. However, at the highest part of the woods, quite near the image below is a well positioned bench that has an inscription in memory of Corporal John Rigby , of the 4th Battalion The Rifles, who died on his 24th birthday just hours after he was injured in a roadside bomb in Iraq in June 2007. John was a frequent visitor to the woods – he lived locally. Click on the link below and read about John:
And thinking about John, a poem from a war poet . . . .
The rain of a night and a day and a night
Stops at the light
Of this pale choked day. The peering sun
Sees what has been done.
The road under the trees has a border new
Of purple hue
Inside the border of bright thin grass:
For all that has
Been left by November of leaves is torn
From hazel and thorn
And the greater trees. Throughout the copse
No dead leaf drops
On grey grass, green moss, burnt-orange fern,
At the wind’s return:
The leaflets out of the ash-tree shed
Are thinly spread
In the road, like little black fish, inlaid,
As if they played.
What hangs from the myriad branches down there
So hard and bare
Is twelve yellow apples lovely to see
On one crab-tree.
And on each twig of every tree in the dell
Crystals both dark and bright of the rain
That begins again. Edward Thomas After Rain
November 7, 2012
Low late autumn light floods the landscape and transforms and changes the balance . . . .
. . even cast shadows become extras on the stage and part of the metamorphosis..
Forms of plants reemerge – just standing naked – but still adorned with jewelry . . .
. . humble fruit trees so full of character . . . .
. . supported, just, or expertly trained in some cases.
Even suburban cotoneaster becomes a thing of beauty. And the grasses, well . . . . ornamental . . .
. . and dipsascus showing nature in roughness and beauty.
I think Rilke might have liked this subtle changing vision and ‘transparency’.
Before you can count to ten
everything changes: the wind flicks
clarity out of even
the high thistle stalks
and flings it in my face,
so close it can’t be seen.
on a border mountain
gives more certain footing
than this spot where
long grass displaces itself
overnight, in wind, in rain,
lies down under the clear air
as if stroked
by the hand
which made it up. Jo Shapcott (after Rilke) Caety Traylow