In solitude we are never really alone

Of the many cycles in nature and in life, there is time for engagement and a time for solitude. But for me in this cycle of my life, when I can get away from the day job, solitude is pure enchantment. 

On my walks I am usually accompanied by intermittent silence, birds singing, distant cattle noises, a tractor somewhere. I pause and visualise the other worker, also out in the fields, listen to his thoughts. 

A lakeside woodland grotto draws me in, a dark bird rustles in the reeds. 

My neighbour Dots has her sheep and her 4 dogs. I have my camera and my reverie. A few moments of solitude in a giant soup of activity, a great porridge of being, this world that I am just a teeny weeny part of. 

But alone? No, I am learning that we are never really alone.


The dance of the Oystercatchers

All my life I have seen Oystercatchers dabbling around in the shallows along Benvoy or one of the other beaches of my childhood. They have a simple routine.

A flock flies in, lands, and then, all together now, dainty little steps into the water and then, suddenly, about face and quick steps out again, and again. After a while a quick foxtrot up or down the beach followed by a swooping fast flight and they are gone again.

Through the lens, I could see that they were having fun, enjoying the larking about, and perfectly present in their world. I was just an observer, a flightless blob on the rock, unable to keep up, I watched them disappear around the headland and on to their next adventure.

I am a slow one these days in comparison. When I try to speed up I remind myself that I am observing details of life very carefully and I must stand still to really see what is around me. This seems to be just as true of work as of play!

And when I take it slowly the mystery and the magic continues......."in a dark time, the eye begins to see" -Theodore Roethke


A blanket of green moss soothes the brain

These familiar walls on the lane border my regular walks. They are old walls, built by hard labour when fields were cleared for tillage or grazing and in this area small bogs were reclaimed and drained. In places the stones are blanketed in generations of moss and creeping greenery which thrive in the exposed damp winter.

When there is little else to feast the eyes on, these mosses and grasses are layers of greens on other greens and feed the insatiable need for comfort and beauty. The nooks and crannies created by the neat stone drains are ideal for frogs and newts. These walls support a whole world of life and growth that has taken so many years.......

This week the headier issues of work and problem solving befuddled my poor brain. Thanks to the soothing beds of moss I perched on a customary old softish spot and chatted to a couple of bullocks.  I already have hundreds of photos of mosses and green stuff......but these stones are photogenic specimens, not to be ignored on any given day. No, these shots just seeped into my camera unbeknownst to me!

Green is the perfect antidote to brain weariness, and harmony is restored in the old and the very familiar fabric of the landscape.......


Unremembered wings

On February 20th 2011, I wrote in my notebook that I would have to take inspiration from Edisson and explore 1,000 ways of how not to make an image before I would know how to do it!  I didn't really know what blogging was, I hadn't used a Digital SLR before, I switched from PC to Mac overnight, I didn't know what twitter was, and I hadn't a clue what to write about!

Julia Cameron describes blocked creatives, as artists who have sublimated their true path and creative lives to pursue other work, often meeting the desires and needs of others. She says that creativity as a commodity is absorbed and exploited in every possible way, and that the creatives at the heart of this are often unaware of it, feeling guilty anytime their own creative urges arise.

The on-line open journaling process, that is blogging, has reminded me again of my "unremembered wings" and over that year I have felt the soaring pleasure of it. This poem to me is such a perfect capture in words of what happens in the pursuit of the creative path.

I didn't know what to say, my mouth
could not speak,
my eyes could not see
and something ignited in my soul,
fever or unremembered wings
and I went my own way,
deciphering the burning fire
and I wrote the first bare line,
bare, without substance, pure
pure wisdom
of one who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw
the heavens
unfastened and open.

Pablo Neruda translated by David Whyte

If you are beginning blogging or any creative endeavour, a good place to start is not knowing. As Neruda says there is a pure foolishness and pure wisdom in one who knows nothing. The excitement is in "deciphering the burning fire."

And just in case there is any confusion, the liberation of "not knowing" mercifully continues almost a year later!


Ireland is a greyish greenish mauve in winter

It's another greyish greenish mauvey morning. Ireland in the winter is challenging for a light loving snapper. Everything today is the texture and colour of tweed. From dawn to dusk it has been drizzling with a soft, wet rain. (Persisting all day, it made my photos a bit more tweedy than intended! )

As it is still quite cold the Tits, Robins and assorted Finches are really enjoying the feeders and while it is impossible to do much outside I observe their antics from the window.

As usual the Robin stole the show and I have started to notice just how territorial he can be, even pipping at me when I strayed too close to re-stock. A small bird in the scheme of things I get a great kick out of his upstart poses and cleverness.

The Tits are like exotic little budgies and always seem to move in groups creating flashes of colour in the willows. They will nest soon in the nearby gorse. The Chaffinches usually come in pairs and while he strikes a proud pose on the birdbath she pecks around on the ground a softer toned but equal partner in the setting up of their new home.

Like me the birds are waking up and getting busy for the new season, I can hear the enthusiasm in their happy tweets........