When all this is over, I’ll remember the quiet moments …
… the early evenings in the garden, as the birds chattered tunefully among themselves …
… the woodland walks, where I was soothed by the changing patterns as, day by day, green leaves unfolded above me, and the flowers of spring, then summer, came and went alongside my path.
And I’ll remember this walk too, from Monday this week, when I exchanged my bosky local landscape for the wider vistas near the North York Moors National Park, where a long slog up a long hill rewards with far-ranging views. And maybe the chance to take a photo requiring depth of field, for Jude’s current photo challenge.
Just look at that. Twelve words. I have to weave those twelve random words into a single poem.
Our U3A writing group is one of the few things that’s continued throughout lockdown. It’s a positive activity at a somewhat negative time. But what CAN you do with a list like that? This, it turns out. I’m not too displeased. And here too are a few photos to illustrate the day.
If you go walking in Wensleydale: if you go for a walk from Jervaulx to Jervaulx via Thornton Steward, you’ll come across this tree home, at the edge of a field, commanding views over the valley. It has just one door and, importantly for Monday Window, just one window.
It’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere, but I always like to imagine a doting grandfather, tall and rangy from a tough life’s farming and probably reminiscent of the BFG, lovingly creating a little refuge for his grandchild in this hollow tree.
A first glimpse ….
… a second glimpse …
… and the whole thing.
I couldn’t fit in it, neither could you. Perhaps the grandchild is too big now. But I know a couple of young people who’d love to play there. Perhaps you do too.
I’ve been thinking about the light as I’ve been on my walks this week. The clear light of the early morning: the clear bright colours that the midday sun encourages, and the warm golden light of evening. Sadly, the weather turned a bit cold and cantankerous as the week drew on, but I did my best to outwit it, or make use of it. And I’ve included just one photo from the winter months, to remind us of the atmosphere of a misty cold day that began with a crusting of frost.
Late morning sun. The poppies brighten the scene.
Without strong sun, there would be no dappled shade in the woods.
Rain’s on its way, making the shot almost monochrome.
The field of barley emphasises the mellow evening light.
The rain mutes and softens the colours of the trees.
A December day in Ripon. Only the street light gives away the fact that this shot isn’t in black and white.
Click on an image to see it full size, and to reveal the caption.
Monday’s walk was along the edge of some local woodland. Suddenly, there on the path in front of me, I spotted … a fledgling. A tottering, tumbling ball of fluff, cheeping plaintively and stumbling uncertainly on its large ungainly clawed feet.
I knew enough not to interfere and attempt a rescue, but this little foundling upset me and I felt guilty leaving him to what I assumed would be certain death – especially when, heart-wrenchingly, it tried to follow me. Was the robin perched in the branch above its parent? Later, paging through bird books, I decided not.
Back home, Google was my friend. This article from the RSPB assures me that the parents were probably practising tough love, and beginning the little bird’s preparations for an independent life.
We went to Colsterdale on Sunday. It’s nearby, but feels remote and isolated, because the only road through leads nowhere very much and so it remains one of North Yorkshire’s best kept secrets. Perfect for a Day Out whilst maintaining that all-important Social Distance.
Edged by the pastoral views of farming country, it climbs to become stark, treeless, commanding views to the distant North York Moors, and to the higher parts of the Pennines. Its ascetic bleakness is what appeals to me.
Scar House Reservoir in the distance
We’d almost reached the area where we planned to park and begin our walk, when I saw them. There! There on the roadside! Look! Two curlews, almost within touching distance. These are shy, beautifully camouflaged birds normally only seen and heard as they quarter the sky, calling the evocative plaintive sound – ‘cur-lee, cur-lee’ – which gives them their name. These two were probably drawing a would-be predator away from the nest.
Whatever the reason, it was such a privilege to watch these birds at close quarters, with their mottled, camouflaging plumage, and their distinctive long downward-curving beaks.
YouTube RSPB video
They flew away after a couple of minutes, and we began our walk, relishing the space, the wild emptiness and the only sounds those of distant curlews.
Addendum: several commenters have expressed surprise about the curlew frequenting moorland. Just to show how very much at home the bird is in these surroundings, here is proof. It is the symbol for the nearby long distance walk, the Nidderdale Way. FAO Jude, Agnes
Today, I’m going no further than my kitchen window. The lilac has been glorious this year. Is it because it has been – well – especially spectacular, or have we simply had more time to enjoy its big blowsy blooms and seductive smell? It’s June now, and lilac has no place in the summer garden, so here is the view that has greeted us every breakfast time for about three weeks. Can’t complain about that.
Let’s have a day out. Lockdown’s still somewhat in force, so let’s make it a Virtual Day Out. We’ve got homework to do: it’s time for Jude’s assignment:
This week's assignment - Use strong backlighting (i.e. shooting towards the light source, but do not look directly at the sun) to create a contre-jour image where the subject becomes a silhouette, OR shoot the light through flowers or leaves creating a transparent effect.
We’ll stay nearby at first: go to the local woods, and quite simply glance upwards.
Then we’ll whip over to Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal. There’s a group of hikers beginning their day out, but we haven’t got time to join them …
… because we’re off to London. William and I enjoy visiting the Bishop’s Palace at Eltham. Last time we went, the sky turned an extraordinary colour for a while, and I took this photo.
Back at his house in time for sunset, you can see his school from a bedroom window.
Off to Gateshead now. We’ll join a crowd of sightseers at the Baltic, looking over at the Tyne Bridge.
And we’re back home just in time to see another sunset.