Finding Inspiration

A walk is the best way of curing writer’s block!

Art and Life

For years they stood
lining the coastal path
slim silver-grey sculptures
arms pointing skywards

no indication of what they
might have been as their
bark seemed eroded
leaving a smooth grey skin

in time one then more changed
hints of green growth appeared
skeletal sculptures transformed
now by clusters of new leaves

revealing a second lease of life
and the identity of old oaks
they stand now defying death
by a chain-saw massacre

This poem was written after being inspired yet again on one of my favourite local walks. So often a walk, either in the hills or by the sea, triggers a response that results in some form of writing. This time, a number of photographs were taken but I’ve yet to transfer them to the computer – watch this space …


Ursula La Guin – I’ve been reading an article which has made me decide to look for some of her books. I remember my daughter being a fan of many of her books for children, but Le Guin also published philosophical works, and it is those books I want to find. This is just one quote I came across when reading about her –

Whether through art and literature or personal experience, Le Guin reminds us that no matter how strange or hard times may seem — the potential for something better lies within us all.

Another promised photo!


Inspired by Trees

Last night I was reading Jan Fortune’s blog

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”

Requiem for a Tree

At a time when we need to be planting trees not cutting them down, we did hesitate for quite a while before taking down the cypress  – hoping  that it might somehow recover. However it became obvious that it wouldn’t and we were afraid that the blight might spread to the others.


I’ve written about three or four versions of this poem but one will suffice for the blog! Sometimes we see trees that have had all their life drained away by a stranglehold of ivy – but not this one.

Ivy was Innocent This Time

Flanked by healthier specimens this evergreen

stood tall, erect, except it wasn’t green.

The only green to be seen was a cloak of ivy

wrapped tightly round the trunk.


A thick layer of russet needles covered

earth around the tree, they crunched

under our feet. Whereas once long

green plumes had flexed in wind,

now branches snapped like pretzels.


The great god blight transformed

this cypress from a lesser green goddess.

A metamorphosis not inflicted by Medusa,

but death’s rigor mortis. Surgery post-mortem

started – secateurs, loppers, log saw.


The russet carpet was swept up, bagged;

amputated, the goddess now lies in state, cloaked in ivy.





Letting the Sun in

Today, on one of the hottest days for a while, we finished taking down an evergreen that had sadly developed a blight. Its lush green had turned to rust and the ground beneath was littered with russet needles. No evergreen now.


It wasn’t the best of days to be doing it. Yesterday, when I started, I was in the shade for a while. We did need to remove it fairly urgently in case the blight spread to the trees on either side. Today we were in full sun by the afternoon.

Later on, I came across a poem that seemed rather apt – see an extract below

When people are born they are supple,
and when they die they are stiff.
When trees are born they are tender,
and when they die they are brittle.
Stiffness is thus a companion of death,
flexibility a companion of life.

Thomas Cleary

Our tree was certainly brittle, the branches that had been so supple were transformed into brittle, fragile fronds that shed their needles onto the ever thickening layer carpeting the soil.

Sadly this tree, planted we were told back in the early 1990s, will no longer shade the path to the side gate but, as we cleared up, we could see that this particular corner of the garden will now get the benefit of more sun. In the autumn we’ll plant wood anemones and wild daffodils around the tree stump and, now we can get to the part of the ground that was smothered in ivy, we hope that next year we’ll see a clump of bluebells to complete a bright natural patchwork.


In a time when we should be planting more trees, it seemed sad to have to take one down but, it’s not just Covid 19 that’s causing loss of life. In the natural world there are constant battles against various diseases and many of our woodland areas are witnessing a loss of larch trees. We hope our other cypresses survive to be ever green.

As people, we have to learn to be supple like willows, not stiff like an oak. Both our minds as well as our bodies need to be flexible, open to ideas, suggestions from all directions.  A violinist who is standing stiffly needs to learn to bend like the willow, letting the music flow through him. If in our thinking we refuse to change old attitudes, refuse to learn and absorb new ideas then we will remain as one turned to stone by Medusa. We need to be ‘open to the light’ from all kinds of sources.

Symbiosis and Serendipity

We should be spending much more time studying the natural world – not just what we can see above ground but what goes on underground. The miracles that take place as plants and trees relate to each other and support each other have lessons for us all.


I have been reading Robert Macfarlane’s inspiring book Underland. This, like so much of his writing is not just factual and fascinating but beautifully written too. He referred to a book by Robin Wall Kimmerer – Braiding Sweetgrass – not only has the author an unusual name but the book had an intriguing title. I decided to look up more information about both on the web. Then later in the day, I was reading Jan Fortune’s blog and there, just a minute or so into reading it, I came across a quotation from the same book. When this sort of thing happens, it seems that I am getting the message loud and clear ‘This is a book that you should be reading!’As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Robin Wall Kimmerer embraces the notion that plants and animals are our oldest teachers.

Serendipity – two references to the same author within hours. I intend to get a copy of her book … there is something more to learn here.