Eight years ago, none of us knew that five years later, our local tracks – the only ones permitted to us during our Lockdown Daily Exercise – would become almost as familiar to us as our own garden path. This is a post I wrote about a nearby walk on January 27th 2015, when I thought that I’d seen all there was to be seen locally. I was wrong as it happened, and later realised how very much more there was to discover when Lockdown provided the incentive. For Fandango’s Flashback Friday.
The days are short
The sun a spark
Hung thin between
The dark and dark.
John Updike, 'January', A Child’s Calendar
A bright winter’s afternoon. Just time, before the evening cold sets in, to get out for a couple of hours of brisk walking: 5 miles or so along familiar paths. So familiar that this time, I focus on the sky: changeable, unpredictable.
Sometimes it’s moody, sometimes cheerful, sometimes simply rather grey and colourless: at other times dramatic, particularly towards sunset. Come and walk with me to watch the clouds.
Yesterday was foggy. All day. Yesterday, when I took a photo – the header photo – at Fountains Abbey, it was so murky I thought it could pass for a sepia image. I’m going to chance calling it monochrome anyway. And since we could barely see ahead of us, we focussed on the ground below. And were rewarded. This is rather a fine tree trunk, I think.
And these Giant Funnel Fungi are rather fine too. Regular readers know that I am keen on foraged food, but I’m glad I didn’t bring these home. Here’s what the website Wild Food says: ‘A large chunky mushroom which can be found in fairly large numbers and is edible to most but can cause gastric upsets in some. This doesn’t really matter as the mushrooms are usually infested with maggots, even when young, making them more maggot than flesh. Not so appetising then … but look how huge they are! That’s a bit of my boot at the bottom of the frame.
This is the last day of November, a month in which Becky has been encouraging us to get out walking, whatever the weather. I’m glad I’ve joined her, and everyone who’s participated in Walking Squares. Thank you!
For her Walking Squares challenge, Becky is encouraging us to walk whatever the weather. On Thursday, I had no choice: I was on duty at Fountains Abbey. The rain was so vertical, so clamorously unrelenting that getting out camera or phone would have been foolish. Once I’d faced the fact that that I’d drawn the shortest of short straws, I quite enjoyed the ceaseless drumming of the water, dodging the puddles as they became rivers, and watching the water birds demonstrating by their surly inactivity that even they thought it was all A Bit Much.
Unexpectedly, a quarter of an hour before it was time to go, the rain stopped. The sky lightened, the puddles offered up reflections, and – thank goodness – I turned round, in time to see this rainbow. Probably just past its best, but at least I saw it.
Look out of the window any day this week, but particularly yesterday, and you’d have seen a scene in glorious monochrome. Leaden skies, rain tumbling from the skies, hour after hour. As the header picture shows. Monday hadn’t been as rainy. Instead we had fog. Monochrome fog.
Some of the pictures were taken as I spent time at Fountains Abbey out in said rain – and against expectations, enjoying every soggy moment of it.
These though are taken at various locations in North Yorkshire, and in fog rather than rain:
And here are three more, for Becky’s Walking Squares:
I couldn’t resist a few more (sodden) tree roots from Fountains, but the water shot, and the desiccated cow parsley come from walks – who knows where?
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 -
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.
Here comes the sun. That’s the theme for the Lens-Artists Challenge, hosted this week by Amy. As I browsed through my collection of sunrises and sunsets, I decided to focus on the rich variety of colours and mood displayed at either end of the day. It’s not always easy to tell which are morning, and which evening. It’s not always easy to decide which images to choose. I’ve gone for a bargain basement pick-and-mix selection, from England, Europe and beyond. Because we all share the same sun, the same sky.
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.
This was the last photo I took yesterday, as I was safely indoors. It was 3.00 p.m., and I thought daughter-who-lives-in-Spain would like to see what she was missing as sleet careered past the window. She didn’t appear to feel awfully jealous. .
Every culture throughout the world has its myths about how the earth, and everything that inhabits the earth, came into being. Here in the UK, historically part of the Judeo-Christian tradition, we’re most familiar with the creation story told in The Book of Genesis.
Day 1 – God created light and separated the light from the darkness, calling light ‘day’ and darkness ‘night’. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
Day 2 – God created an expanse of sky to separate the waters. Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters.
Day 3 – God created the dry ground and gathered the waters, calling the dry ground ‘land’, and the gathered waters ‘seas’. Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
On day three, God also created plant life. Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
Day 4 – God created the sun, moon, and the stars to give light to the earth and to govern and separate the day and the night. These would also serve as signs to mark seasons, days, and years. Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years.
Day 5 – God created every living creature of the seas and every winged bird, blessing them to multiply and fill the waters and the sky with life. Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven… Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.
Day 6 – God created man and woman in his own image. He gave them every creature and the whole earth to rule over, care for, and cultivate. Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. Which is perhaps where it all started to go wrong …
PS. Thanks to your ‘likes’ on this recent post, I’ve been able to donate £28.00 on your behalf to World Central Kitchens, as they feed the dispossessed fleeing from war in Ukraine and other humanitarian catastrophes.
I’m a fan of fog. Not the yellowish throat-catching, grimy sooty pall that that I remember from a 1950s London childhood, which dirtied our clothing and made us cough while we waited in vain for buses, delayed by their headlights’ inability to pierce the gloom with their faint orange glow. Sometimes the conductor, carrying a torch, had to walk in front, picking out a path through the murk. No, now I enjoy peeking through the windows at a landscape softened in a mantle of greyish white. Or walking in the Dales, barely able to distinguish the path ahead, as sheep suddenly loom before us, concealed behind frozen grassy clumps.
These are all from the Yorkshire Dales, in Wharfedale near Burnsall. Here are just a few more – three taken near our house, and one, like the header photo, at Fountains Abbey.