Inspired by Trees

Last night I was reading Jan Fortune’s blog https://janfortune.com/2022/08/04/coming-home-to-ourselves-with-the-trees/

Her words have prompted me to work on something that has been in my mind since the 1980s when I was collecting poems and various pieces of writing about trees. At the same time a dear friend of mine was also compiling a similar collection. His led to the publication of a beautiful book ‘Touch Wood – A Journey Among Trees’ which also included many of his photographs.

Every time I go for a walk, I am fascinated and in awe of  trees in all seasons, in all stages of growth or decay, whether battered by storms or sculpted by wind.

Trees – so much has been written about them over the years, so many artists have been inspired by them. I have hesitated to produce something that represents my own thoughts, feelings, relationships with these awe inspiring beings.

I hope that this year, I will start to collate all my tree photos, redraft some  poems and other writing inspired by walks through woods, trees in gardens, planting trees.  I might also consider the many aspects of wood – the beauty and the usefulness among other things. Perhaps commiting this hope to a blog page will give me the incentive to get on and do it!

In the meantime, this is just one of my many favourite trees – an ent-like character who has survived many storms in his lifetime. I refer to him as a ‘he’  – some trees do seem to have very definite personalities.

Continue reading “Inspired by Trees”

August

August 1st – time to celebrate?

Lunastal  – a time of year when

here, the first fruits of the season

are harvested, we look forward to good crops.

But

this year, over eight hundred million

will die of hunger

while we look forward to our good crops.

In

Afghanistan, Ethiopia, South Sudan,

Syria, and Yemen, families struggle to survive,

send children to beg for food, dream of good crops.

Why

can four giant transnationals dominate,

exploit the global food system as they

account for nearly all of global grain trade?

War

makes things worse, less grain exported

from Ukraine – some countries suffered

more than others. Egypt and others affected badly.

Lunastal

a time of year when the first fruits

of the season are harvested, time for the world

to celebrate and look forward to good crops.

Haiku

This will probably be the shortest blog post I’ve written. A bout of Covid and a garden that is demanding a lot of attention at this time of the year has meant there’s been very little time to write.

However – I couldn’t resist posting this – sheep around here have been losing their thick fleeces – they are the kind that don’t need shearing but they leave their wool along fences – great for the local spinners and weavers!

Time to shed winter coats!

Washing Line

By the coastal path

frightened sheep run under wire

leave woollens to dry

A Unified Cloud

Evening walks are one of the joys of this time of the year. The days are long enough so we can get all the routine jobs done that a large garden demands during the day, but there is still time to take a relaxing meditative walk in the evening. There is no pressure to rush back and get something done before dark, we can linger and watch the birds or marvel at the energy of young lambs chasing round the fields.

A few days ago we were sitting on one of our favourite benches where there’s a view across the salt marshes to the distant hills on the other side of the Solway coast. There are a few blackthorn and hawthorn trees, each in turn producing beautiful blossom that dresses branches in bridal white.

By June the blossom has gone, soon the sloes will appear on the blackthorn and the hawthorn trees will be covered with the ruby jewels of haws. But just now it’s too early to see the fruits appear, it’s the starlings who draw our attention.

We watch as they circle the saltmarsh or merse as it’s more commonly referred to here and in a synchronised mumruration, clouds of unified grace, they move around the evening sky. The following poem should be laid out differently, but I couldn’t replicate that format on the blog – You’ll have to imagine the text sweeping and swirling rather than being in a stiff column! Maybe I’ll take a photo and try to post that one day …

Murmuration over the Merse

I envy those starlings

they swoop though the air

circle a distant hawthorn tree

then skirt around a second

land briefly on the third

before rising

all together like a cape

thrown up into the air

they move on again

rise like  twisting

plumes of smoke

as one amoeba-like

shadow above the merse

patterning the dusk

together        they fly

perfect harmony

in unison      

no outcasts

We could learn a lot from these avian souls.

Walk into the Past

The walk in Knockman Wood not only triggered a number of thoughts but also inspired the following poem.

Light Shines Through

in ancient woods of oak and birch

scents of wild garlic bluebells mingle

among cushions of mosses. A woodpecker

drums a background beat to birdsong

I feel the presence of past lives,

smell the charcoal burners,

see farmers drying corn in kilns, hear

ghostly kye grazing among the trees.

Young birch trees have white,

paper thin bark that curls and peels

to make perfect kindling for

fires in kilns and homestead hearths.

Light shines through these woods.

They encourage me to linger,

to share their past, listen to stories told

by ghosts, grasses, stones and trees.

Knockman Wood

Finding Time

Sometimes a walk can help us to get things in perspective, to appreciate where we are, how our lives have changed, how to live in the now and not spend time thinking about the past and worrying about the future.

That’s a rather long and clumsy sentence which I suppose could be summed up in two words ‘Carpe Diem’.

On a walk last week, we passed though ancient woodland that was still full of bluebells.20220528_16012520220528_160236 Continue reading “Finding Time”

Rosemary for Remembrance

We’ve been taking advantage of a few dry days to catch up in the garden. One of the jobs that’s been on our garden ‘to do’ list finally reached the top – shredding. Among other branches was a pile of Rosemary that had been cut back a couple of weeks ago.

As these passed through the shredder,  a beautiful scent filled the air. The oils of Rosemary being released by the shredder brought back a number of memories including a holiday in France where we saw hedges of Rosemary growing wild. A sprig that we brought back (wrapped in a wet flannel) was safely rooted and planted in our garden . Many cuttings have been taken , rooted and moved with us over the years.

Each plant that we have carries memories of people and places. When we moved to our current home there was already a well-established Rosemary  which is growing beneath an equally elderly clematis and rampant ivy which cover an equally elderly fence. What memories they will have held for others in past years.

In these troubled times, being in the garden either planting out new flowers grown from seed or removing ‘thugs’ -weeds that are threatening to smother more delicate plants, it is all very therapeutic. Working in the fresh air with plants has a calming effect. the mind can be emptied of all worries when focussing on the simple jobs in hand. Having a Zen-like attitude ‘When you are raking a path, know you are raking a path’, is good for the soul.

 

Buddha & Bluebells

20220508_142156

This is one of my favourite places – Glenwhan Gardens in Dunragit -and May is one of the best months to visit here. I have often said that if there is such a place as heaven then, in my opinion, it will be like Glenwhan.

Here you can feel at peace. The gardens have such a calming effect that even on a day when there’s a breeze, it’s possible to just sit and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere that’s been created over many years by Tessa Knott.

Despite the car park seeming to be pretty full, there are so many paths and so many places to sit that it’s possible to walk all round without seeing more than a few people. Even though we live less than an hour away, it’s very tempting to book a holiday in either the Lodge or Shepherd’s Hut there.

To be able to spend days not just hours in such an environment would really be an idyllic holiday.

There was something about the Buddha in the bluebells this afternoon that compelled me to take more than one photograph. Looking at them now, I am back there surrounded by that peace and tranquility. I hope that others will feel the power of the peacefulness.

Time Flies

I didn’t think that it was so many weeks ago that I made my last entry. The old saying is that ‘time flies when you’re enjoying yourself’, but I find that as I’ve got older, time flies regardless.

Now that the weather has finally decided to be more springlike, there is what seems like a rather daunting list of things that need doing in the garden.  Being outside and working in the fresh air, even if it’s a mundane job like weeding, I find that it’s very  therapeutic.

Just now we have large flocks of goldfinches,  with smaller numbers of siskins feeding on the sunflower hearts in the feeders. They are a joy to watch when standing in the kitchen waiting for the kettle to boil or the toast to pop up.

On Easter Sunday, I was gazing out of  the window in the morning and later in the day found that my thoughts had led to the following  …

Easter Sunday 2022

The bird feeder is full

sunflower hearts, no husks.

It’s early, but first arrivals

land on topmost branches of

the Himalayan birch tree,

trampoline down to the feeder.

Branches spring back

as they land to feed –

first five then six feisty siskins,

goldfinches – too many to count.

The sky fills, more arrive

then, as one they leave in

an amoeba-like cloud –

circle, undulate, twist

turn then back to settle again.

Paper-white bark of the birch

stark contrast to grey clouds

telling only rain threatens here.

I look out on a peaceful scene –

how different in Mariupol,  Kyiv

Kramatorsk, Donbas, Bucha,  Brovary, Lviv …

No matter what we’re doing at the moment it is hard to forget ( and we shouldn’t) the horrors of war in Ukraine.

How Many More?

The days are lengthening, next weekend we’ll put the clocks forward . Spring is definitely here. The daffodils are in bloom, the leaves of wild garlic have suddenly lined woodland paths and now is  the time to prepare the vegetable plots for sowing and planting.

In the garden we can feel positive; life goes on in the natural world regardless of the mess humans are making of things.

Acceptance is one of the hardest lessons we have to learn. It doesn’t get easier as the years pass by and as we go though life, supposedly getting older and wiser, we need to keep reminding ourselves to do what we can , when we can and make the most of the ‘now’.

Carpe Diem but don’t expect life to be a bowl of cherries. It isn’t, and there are some things we can’t change. We have to accept that we can only strive to be aware, be conscious of what we can do to make ourselves and our world as good as it can be. We can’t afford to be complacent, to stop questioning, to stop hoping that things will get better.

Sometimes it’s hard to be positive.

How Many More?

spring is here

a time for sowing seeds

a time for new growth

yet we see death

every day

thousands killed

every day

how many more

for the grim reaper

before summer comes?