Is creativity just about putting one foot in front of the other?

These are just some of my favourite photographic memories from 2011. All of these photographs were taken just 5 minutes from my back door where I observed nature on Foxglove Lane continuing to express itself in ordinary ways. Some times I went out with my camera in a happy mood as the sun was shining or the flowers and bees were plentiful.  Other times I expected nothing and pounded the lane in the grey mist...just hoping to come across a friendly mouse or an interesting insect. On these days little surprises would capture me.....leaves turning golden, seed heads blowing in the wind, ice on dandelion petals and I would come back with a bouncier spring in my step. It was about just doing it.

2011 was a year of bereavement in my own life and I have no doubt that the whole blogging experience and the kindness of strangers mitigated the sadness in different ways. While I was losing someone I was also gaining someone, I found some other part of myself again. An inner world, a more fearless creativity, a sense of seizing the day with more urgency. Recovering from a bereavement seems to be a similar process, it's about getting up in the morning and putting one foot in front of another.

So for 2012 I will continue as before, putting one creative foot in front of the other, not thinking too much about all those ifs and buts, living life for each ordinary and extra-ordinary day as it comes. Is that what creativity is really all about?

Happy New Year dear friends!


December dusk from my window


When it is over, I don't want to wonder 
if I have made of my life something particular, and real. 
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened, 
or full of argument. 

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world. 
-Mary Oliver

Dusk light with the reflections of the still twinkling lights of the Christmas tree..........I am beginning to re-emerge from hibernation.....Thank you all for your true support and kindness....


Winter Solstice the longest night of the year

As the sun sets this evening, the sky both darkens and colours. Gradually an average grey day turns into a mysterious and magical evening. While our ancestors calculated fairly accurately that this, December 21st, would be the longest night, I imagine they that were overwhelmed by questions as to why, just as I am tonight.

After a dark winter event in my life I am wandering around in the end of nowhere, doing very little except observing this transformation. The sun is setting in the farthest corner of the southwest. From tomorrow everything will change again as the earth turns back towards the sun and the light will return little by little each day.


Mythical winter swan on the lake

As an anti-dote to the economic wars endlessly rehearsed on the airwaves I took to the water last night and just observed the peaceful world of this swan. Whenever I see a swan it brings me back to the story of the Children of Lir which we all learned in school as small children.

Lir and his wife Aobh had four children called, Aodh, Fionghuala, Fiachra and Conn. When Lir's wife died in childbirth he remarried but his new wife Aoife was jealous of the children and their loving relationship with their father. One day in a jealous rage she put the children under a spell and they were turned into four white swans. They remained in that form for 400 years, living lives of horrendous hardship and loneliness wandering the world. I can almost feel the cold that they experienced living on icy waters through endless winters whenever I think of them.

In the end the spell was finally broken and they were returned to human form as withered old people. They were eventually baptised, died peacefully and were buried together. 

This legend is very much part of our Irish national psyche as is being able to absorb all sorts of stories and myths in our youth. So many beautiful Irish works of art have drawn on the powerful image of the four children as swans, or the amazing transformation from child to bird or from swan to human again. 

I still relish tales of the bitter sweet sort, of trapped beauty, of ice cold worlds, and above all of human survival and love........


In winter

Winter has set in here in Foxglove Lane. How beautiful, how sad. A time to reflect, pause and hibernate. Out there, the pace is slowing down. Inside, the candles are lit and the wood is in. All is quiet. Sometimes it is hard to imagine that there is anything left to snap out there in a bleak grey December. I give up, I retreat. Then one day I wake up, to life, to the light, and to a new sparkly winter's day.

This chilly, dreamy slideshow was inspired by the haunting music of artist Kate Glavey. I don't know a lot about how her new album came to be. I just know that Kate is a committed and creative individual who is constantly developing her work. I found her beautiful album to be surprisingly raw and emotionally charged. It immediately hooked me.

In winter, by Burrows can be accessed on www.burrowsinwinter.bandcamp.com. Take a dander over there to sample more, I came away with a couple of special Christmas gifts.


Everything is dripping wet for the first day of Advent

Last night as I was sleeping 
I dreamt -marvellous error-
that there was a fiery sun here in my heart
It was fiery because it gave warmth as if from a hearth, 
and it was sun because it gave light, 
and brought tears 
to my eyes.
-Antonio Machado

While the garden sleeps a soft winter is bringing buckets of rain. After one exciting frosty morning, now mild Atlantic weather systems have taken over and instead of winter wonderland we should 
have a wet and windy Christmas.

We need to keep a warm flame in our hearts at this time of the year, a memory of heat and light, 
to see us through until the spring. Time to get the 4 candles of Advent lighting and to retreat indoors.