The North Wind doth Blow?

Climate, Poetry, Weather

Have you noticed? For all we’ve been focussed on day-to-day weather recently, it’s the temperature we’ve talked about, here in Europe at any rate (‘Phew it’s too hot!’), and the lack of rain (‘Oooh, my poor garden!). I realised, only the other day, that wind has been in short supply. No summer breezes, no brisk gusts, no sudden squalls.

Then Rebecca’s Monthly Poetry Challenge dropped into my in-box. She wants us to write about wind, employing the literary device of anaphora. No, I didn’t know what that was either. You can read about it here.

I could have snuck in and offered the rhyme that my children were brought up on.

When the wind is in the east,
’tis neither good for man nor beast;
When the wind is in the north,
the skillful fisher goes not forth;
When the wind is in the south,
it blows the bait in the fishes’ mouth;
When the wind is in the west,
then ’tis at the very best.

But that would be cheating.

So here we are …

This is wind: softly susurrating.
This is wind: sweetly sighing.
This is wind: breezily billowing.
This also is wind: galloping gustily;
roaring and raging; shrieking and storming -
destructive; disastrous.
Here today.  Gone tomorrow.
This is wind.

And it turns out that wind is not after all an endangered species.  Yesterday was properly windy, for the first time in weeks.

Nature’s Serving Suggestions

Food & Cooking, Poetry

As a young child, I was sometimes woken up when it was barely light, to go off with my mother mushrooming on the decommissioned RAF airfield near our house. Blackberrying was for late summer, always, and rosehips for autumn, when the entire village school would spend afternoons gathering rosehips for Delrosa to turn into rosehip syrup (‘Whaddya mean, slave labour? The best pickers got a tin badge to keep!’). Later, in France, we added wild asparagus, wild cherries, mushrooms, walnuts, chestnuts and sloes to our Free Food bonanza. It’s made me a seasonal eater. I love it when the seasons announce that we have a different food to add to our diet, for a few weeks only. Fresh peas straight from the pod! The newest and smallest potatoes! Discovery apples in August! And in winter, these same foods, bottled and preserved give us a different pleasure – a memory of summer, but presented in a comforting, warming way: plum jam to spread on toast after a brisk winter walk; walnuts stirred into the soon-to-be steamed Christmas pudding; a nip of sloe gin on the coldest of days.

Nature’s had a habit of giving us the right foods for the right season. It’s a modern idea to expect strawberries in November. asparagus in September. All that anticipation, all that enjoyment of a food made special, distinctive by its very limited season has gone. If we listen, we can hear Nature telling us to get back in touch with the way things always used to be. Then we can get rid of all those unnecessary Air Miles too.

This week’s Tanka Tuesday asks us to write on the theme of Lessons from Nature. I’ve chosen the Shadorma form to illustrate what I’ve just been talking about. Mirabelles by the way are rarely seen in the shops. They’re small plums, yellow or rosy pink.

So …





And Nature said …

Summer Travel: it’s worth it in the end

Balkans, France, Germany, India, Poetry, South Korea, Spain, Travelling in Europe

This is turning into a Sunday Thing. Experimenting with different types of poetry. But with added photos. Always with added photos. This week, as my contribution to Tanka Tuesday‘s task – to write a 4-11 (the clue is in the name: 11 lines of 4 syllables each – last line repeats the first) I thought I’d focus on summer travel.

Summer travel

was always fun.

But now passport

control (Brexit!);

Covid control;

train strikes and queues;

airport queuing – 

make journeys long

and so irksome.

Worth it though – for

summer travel

And to prove that travel’s always worth it, here’s my photo gallery. There’s just one problem. Most of these photos were taken in January, in February, in March … you get the idea – any month but August …

… Should have travelled by elephant …?

Temple elephant, Thanjavur

PS – the header photo was taken at l’Albufera, near Valencia, Spain.

The sea, the sibilant sea

Poetry

It’s August, and what says ‘summer holidays’ more potently than the seaside? Well, nothing could drag me there when it’s all crowded beaches, kiss-me-quick hats and donkey rides. But off-season, there’s nowhere better. A walk along the sand, beachcombing, inspecting rock pools, and most of all, looking out far to the distant horizon, watching ships as they travel back and forth, imagining the seashore as a gateway to journeys extending beyond that horizon …

So when Rebecca of Fake Flamenco challenged us to write a haibun for this month’s Poetry Challenge, and asked us to take ‘door’ in its widest sense as our subject, I thought I knew what I’d explore.

But what’s a haibun? I hear you ask. This: ‘Contemporary practice of haibun composition in English is continually evolving. Generally, a haibun consists of one or more paragraphs of prose written in a concise, imagistic haikai style, and one or more haiku.’ Wikipedia

The sea, the sea

A susurration of waves: oscillating, softly slapping and surging across crushed seashells on the sandy shingle: soothing; sibilant. Sucking, settling, restoring.  Saluting the shoreline in a ceaseless cycle.  A portal to distant islands and continents beyond the horizon.

Waves advance

greet the sandy shingled shore

Quite unceasingly.

I’m going to be quite cheeky here. Sammi, over at Sammi Scribbles, has a fun weekend challenge in which she invites us to write 28 words – neither more nor fewer – prompted by the word sibilance. So let’s pinch part of what I wrote for Rebecca:

A susurration of waves: oscillating, softly slapping and surging across crushed seashells on the sandy shingle: soothing; sibilant. Sucking, settling, restoring.  Saluting the shoreline in a ceaseless cycle.‘  

The Longest Day – One Month Gone ..

Poetry, Weather

For the last month, I’ve sometimes been a bit grumpy in the evening. It’s the same every year. The longest day comes … and then goes. And inexorably, the days get shorter and I’m reminded that winter’s on its way. I enjoy the season: the gaunt skeletal outlines of trees, the chill in the air. But I really don’t like the short days and the endlessly long nights that come with winter.

So when this week’s #Tanka Tuesday issued the challenge to write a syllabic poem entitled The Longest Day, I knew exactly what to write about, and chose to use the nonet form: a nine-line poem, that goes from 9 syllables in the first line, down to one in the last line.

The Longest Day

The longest day is one month past and

each day is shorter than the last, 

as now the nights grow longer

and winter edges in.

It’s dismal knowing

summer’s going.

Sunny days

almost …

gone.

For Debbie’s Six Word Saturday, and

Colleen’s Word Craft Poetry.

St. Pancras Station: where England and Europe meet

England, London, Poetry

My favourite station in the UK is Saint Pancras International. It’s a masterpiece of Victorian Gothic architecture and must be England’s most elegant place from which to start a journey. It was opened in 1862, and one of its glories is its immense single span iron roof , designed by William Barlow. That wonderful facade, which includes the Midland Hotel, was designed by Gilbert Scott, and this is what you’ll see as you approach, and then wander among all the fairly up-market shops which line the concourse these days. It’s such a treat just to wander round admiring the structure, listening to travellers chatting in French as they accustom themselves to their English surroundings. Here’s a little gallery to give you as taste of the handsome brickwork, the charming attention to detail.

What a shock, then, to find yourself suddenly facing this statue, The Meeting Place. some 9 metres high. Designed by Paul Day and unveiled in 2007, it’s intended to encapsulate the romance of travel.

This weekend’s Tanka Tuesday Poetry Challenge invites us to use a photo of this work as a prompt for a piece of Ekphrastic Poetry (if this is a new one on you, as it was to me, you’ll find out what it is if if you follow the link). For the challenge, it has to be in syllabic form, so I chose Prime Verse. And I think my feelings about this work may be clear…

Saint Pancras and the lovers.

A magnificent

Victorian masterpiece.

Elegant springboard of a thousand journeys –

Saint Pancras Station.

What greets you here?

A schmaltzy piece of kitsch:

a statue of two lovers who embrace

as they meet once more.

A crude mawkish piece, whose presence I abhor.

The featured image is by Daniela Paola Alchapar via Unsplash.

Galloping Years

Blogging challenges, Poetry

Blame Peter. He’s the one who drew my attention to Sammi Cox and her writing prompts. And when his own post, prompted by Sammi, dropped into my in box, I thought I should have a go too. This is the prompt:

Why 46 words? Just to make life difficult I suppose. But here we go …

The Galloping Years

You’d think each year was just a year

Each one lasting twelve whole months.

And yet as I get old and grey, those weeks and months

Revolve, gain speed and pass before me faster than before.

Slow down! Don’t hurry me through my last remaining years.

Wipe them on the mat shoes?

photography, Poetry

When my children were small, this poem by Frida Wolfe was a favourite:

Choosing Shoes

New shoes, new shoes,
Red and pink and blue shoes.
Tell me, what would you choose,
If they’d let us buy?

Buckle shoes, bow shoes,
Pretty pointy-toe shoes,
Strappy, cappy low shoes;
Let’s have some to try.

Bright shoes, white shoes,
Dandy-dance-by-night shoes,
Perhaps-a-little-tight shoes,
Like some? So would I.

BUT
Flat shoes, fat shoes,
Stump-along-like-that shoes,
Wipe-them-on-the-mat shoes,
That’s the sort they’ll buy.

Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge this week invites us to look for shoes, boots and slippers. I wonder if I can find anything?

It turns out I can find shoes, boots … but no slippers. Will sandals do instead?

There’s always Zoë …

… and …

Watching the Tour de Yorkshire pass by
Happy hikers

For Cee’s CBWC Shoes, boots and slippers

And for Debbie’s Six Word Saturday

Daytime brings forth March Flowers

Blogging challenges, Poetry

Most months, I like to join in Rebecca of Flake Flamenco’s Poetry Challenge. I’m not much of a poet and don’t I know it? – but any chance to get the grey matter’s muscles toned has to be taken once you get to my advanced years.

This month, she’s asked us to write a Shadorma – a non-rhyming six line poem with a specific syllable count of  3/5/3/3/7/5. It’s alleged to have its origins in Spain, though not a soul can offer any evidence for this theory. No matter. We’ll have a go anyway. Rebecca’s asked us to focus on light and darkness. Light into darkness is the way the world is going just now, so I’m going from darkness to light.

Midwinter

days have gone at last.

Here is Spring.

Buds unfurl,

reach upwards to the sun’s rays

and lingering light.

This provides me with the perfect excuse to have a few springtime pictures of flowers doing just that – stretching their petals upwards and eagerly towards the sun. It’s probably a bit late for you to join Rebecca this month with your own poems – closing day is today. But she’ll be challenging us again next month – and if you join in, she’ll translate your poem into Spanish. This is why I do this: she translates all our words into pure poetry. I love it.

A January Haiga

Poetry, Walking

This year, no route march.

Instead I’ll wander, breathe, gaze …

Enjoy the moment.

I should explain. For some time now, I’ve joined in Rebecca of Fake Flamenco’s monthly poetry challenge. It’s a challenge indeed, especially for strict amateurs like me, because every month she invites us to try a different poetic form on the announced theme. This month, it’s a haiga. It’s new to me, and perhaps to you. Here’s what Aha Poetry says: ‘Haiga is a Japanese concept for simple pictures combined with poetry, usually meaning haiku‘.

So what you see above is my first effort, on Rebecca’s chosen theme of time, personal development and change. Many of you know that last year I challenged myself to walk every day, and get the miles in – 1500 miles to be exact. It was fun, and helped keep me fit. This year though, I don’t want to do it again. I still want to walk every day (said she, looking out at a grey and rain-sodden garden). But instead of getting my head down and pounding the tracks and pathways, I want to slow my pace and savour the moment: take pleasure in discovering the new in views that have perhaps become over-familiar in these all-but lockdown days.