Safe and sound in the Bluebells

It's quiet here and in spite of the proximity to the road, it remains wild. Darker than usual, fresh leaves block the sky. At dusk the light filters through at a rakish angle making long shadows and spotlighting the little blue flowers I have come to see. 

To get to the woods I have to hop a few walls and climb down a steep hill of rocks and young trees. Every time it's worth it. Changes take place over these few weeks, and yet fundamentally everything remains the same over so many years.....

It can be spooky in the woods. It's isolated and I feel vulnerable in these lonely places. But a camera is a companion, and although I am a bit rushed by my caution, time passes and I soon forget the rest of the world.

To be safe and sound, is what we each crave.


The mother shaped Hen Blackbird

It's been a busy time for myself and the birds around here. There are a number of nesting families very close by and I am watching their progress from my desk.

There's a nest of Blue Tits just above the window, a pair of Great Tits under the granite bird bath, and a number of Blackbirds living in the willows. Out of the corner of my eye I catch them swooping back and forth; without really studying them, I know everything about their movements.

One flight path takes the Blackbirds perilously close to the window pane as they angle in to round the corner of the house. Sadly a Hen Blackbird went head first into the window this morning and landed in the gravel below.

When I placed her little warm body on the paper, her wounds were obvious and there was a tiny droplet of blood coming from her spectacular beak. I studied her in detail, her feathers, structure and colour. The hens are brown, and are the most beautiful mother shaped birds.

These are the facts; we are born, we live and then sooner or later, one day, we meet our end. I'm watching the other Blackbirds now to identify her mate. One sat for ages just above the spot, singing in the rain and grooming ferociously. I'm not sure if they grieve? I'm not sure about anything much when it comes to these mysteries..... 

The Hen Blackbird album is here


Wabi-sabi and the beauty of imperfection

Every year at least once I remember the lines of this poem. Usually it's during Autumn in the dazzling russets of dying leaves. This year it was while walking in Mount Congreve during Magnolia time. Magnolias were flowering on dark branches and there are some ancient specimens there, but it was the dying petals strewn underfoot that brought the poem to mind again. 

I wish I understood the beauty 
in leaves falling.
To whom are we beautiful 
as we go? 

~David Ignatow

If there is such a thing as a Wabi-sabi poem, maybe this is it. Wabi-sabi is a Japanese way of seeing which honours the beauty of transience, imperfection and the incomplete. Think about your favourite old chair, a cracked cup you have stuck back together, an old silk scarf? I saw it in my elderly Grandmother, the most beautiful wrinkly woman, oozing love and elegance. I find it now in ragged hedgerows and vilified dandelions, and here in trampled petals. 

How freeing it can be to strive for imperfection! Being 60 now I hope it includes ageing gracefully, fading softly, avoiding at all costs the lethal stuff on offer from the botox pushers and their like? Do you have a place in your heart for Wabi-sabi? 


A black cat, another road trip and a resounding YES!

Farmyard black cat in the ditch is a sign of luck

Around here these border collies are all known as Shep

The Cat Shepherd's apprentice says hello

Time to fly away for the Chaffinch too

One of these days we will be leaving this sleepy patch for a bit of a road trip so I'm taking this black cat as a sign of good luck.....

Myself and himself will be heading for France with no agenda and only half an inkling of where we are going. We have always camped out since we hitch hiked from Dublin as far as Greece and Turkey. We pitched our tent on a Mediterranean beach, were fed by local people and didn't even have Google to warn us about scorpions......

We once drove a vintage VW around Germany and Scandinavia busking and creating street art along the way. Later we piled the three kids, a dog, a cat, a budgie and a box of gerbils into a Fiat Ducato and headed off around Ireland. After a few years wet Irish summers, we ended up returning year after year to Carnac in Brittany.  Last time we slept under the stars in a balmy St. Malo. We had intended to drive to the south but ended up spending 3 weeks in the same spot so beautiful was that town on the sea.

Leaving Ireland by ferry  you realise what a tiny island far off the edge of Europe we live on. This time we will be in another VW van taking the ferry from Rosslare to Cherbourg and watching the South East corner of Ireland disappear over the horizon once more....

The resident artist who lives upstairs will feed the birds while we are gone. Until then we are both campaigning for a YES vote in the upcoming Marriage Equality ReferendumSeasoned campers, campaigners and now in our 40th year of it, at this stage we have fingers and toes crossed that we are going to hear a big resounding YES echoing across the Irish Sea in our wake........

PS I've just made my photography portfolio "mobile friendly" check out the Rural Life Gallery here should be easy peasy even on your phone!