Category Archives: Wonderings

The only constant

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After a whole weekend of self-induced domesticity I stepped outside,  into the air of a pre-work morning to scrape the last gooings of the porridge pot into the compost.   The magical bin where food goes in and soil comes out sits snuggled into the hedgerow not far from the front door, wormery and the other members of it’s waste repository family.

The tangled thickety mass of hawthorn that embraces the bin yesterday had looked much the same as it had done last Wednesday, ..and the Thursday lunchtime before that, …or whenever it was I last  paid it any attention.

But today it was pink.

Not just the warm, soft blush pink of a sun barely risen.  No, this was a siren-searing cerise.

“Hey there hedge, you’re lookin’ gooooood today! When did you get so pretty?”

“Oh, it’s a look I’ve been working on for a while.  I’m glad you noticed.  It’s taken you a while.”

“Taken me a while???!!!”    I stopped and looked at the collection of brown twigs that my fella calls  forsythia.

Long, pendulous butter-yellow buds dripped from it’s stems.

The horse chestnut, like a child’s fingers fresh from the sweetshop, thrust it’s fat, sticky tips towards the sky.

Suddenly, Spring had happened.

Only it hadn’t.

This had been going on for months.  Reverently, solemnly, each plant had been preparing itself for another jazz-hands display of razzle-dazzle.  Barely drawing breath from last season, they have been quietly inching-out roots and swelling tiny, deep-set nubs.

And that’s the thing with nature, and the nature of things; nothing ever stands still.

Mountains, sand dunes, attacking swarms and thundering, raging storm clouds… they all move, (just some much more slowly than others.)

Change is constant, which can be a comfort if times are tough.  Rough patches don’t last forever, they may get better, they may get an awful lot worse, but today will pass like water under a bridge.

Equally, when times are heart-stoppingly exquisit, to have the clarity of mind to pause and feel the bliss on your lips and tuck it away in your cinema-heart is a wonderous thing.

Because that’s the thing with nature and the nature of things …..

 

Not a kerfuffle over nothing.

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I am a fairly calm soul.

I do not get whipped up into the frenetic dizzyness over the latest musthave.

Hype around anything generally makes me sceptical because it causes me wonder who’s benefiting from all that shouting.

The sensationalism created by the Daily ffffflipping Mail two weeks ago truly made my bones boil.  Apparently, four horsemen had been seen stalking the south-eastern corner of our Isle.  Had they the Apocalypse with them in their evil rucksack?  No, a fear far greater rode with them, a terror so immense it’s name could only be whispered in darkened, underground corridors.  That name?…

snow.

Oooooooooohhhhhh it was coming, it was heading this way, it was going to be the most terrible of  terrors,  the entire  nation would cease to function and Waitrose would surely run out of brie. How would we possibly survive?

I gave the clouded night sky a cursory  glance as I pulled the curtains tight against Saturday evening.  “You’re not going to give us any snow are you?  Fuss over nothing as usual.”

Then Sunday arrived…

There WAS snow, it was real, it really was real snow and it was HERE!!!!

I honestly felt like a five year old on Christmas morning.

Moog and Noggin were less excited.

For a Norwegian Forest cat, Moog got quite upset at the snow.

So I tucked them up inside with warm radiators and blankets and resigned myself with not going anywhere for two days.  The only thing I could do was immerse myself in the deep joy of this already beautiful world suddenly made more wonderous.

Billions of flakes, each and every one different to it’s neighbour, made the mundane shine.

I’ve never photographed a postbox before, but this is beautiful isn’t it?

A daydream along the road and I stumbled across the scariest shack I’ve ever witnessed. Neither Spring, Summer or Autumn had pointed this out to me.  Had Winter placed it here for just this very moment?

I imagined I was in a film and surveyed the peeling shack through a tangle of scratchy branches while a piano plinked sparsely in the background.

At this point in the film you’d be telling the lone girl to turn back but secretly willing her on.

Your curiosity is mine too.

I moved closer.

Surely no-one could live here could they?  I peered through the eeriest window that ever there was.

No, just stacked chairs, papers, pots of crayons, children’s pictures pinned to the wall and books,… books

Bibles and the tattered remains of The Ladybird Book of Prayers Through the Year,…. ahhh this was the church’s Sunday School Hut.  A place for children.

I left before I was seen and made my way to the river where Leaf had proposed to me, to wash the shiver from my spine.

Here I took his hand as he gave me his heart.

Sadly, economy dictates that my love travels to where the money is.  His time at this time was being spent in Birmingham.  And it was his birthday too.  Rubbish!

So with his smile in my head, I fashioned him a snowman, a peaceful snowman on the bench by our house.

“What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.”

Indeed.

It was raining, so I went out anyway…

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There’s a maxim amongst hardy-optimistic-outdoor types that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.  I suspect it hales from Scandinavia or somewhere the elements are very sure of their identity.

We are blessed with a temperate climate here in the UK which spoils us with a whole wealth of atmospheric conditions; from sudden, thunderous summer showers to silent, misty, dew-dappled mornings.  Each of them with their own merits.   It then astounds me that the majority of people I speak with during my working day will make a negative comment about the weather if it is anything other than 18 degrees and sunny.

In chatting with one lady I reminisced that last winter, some roads were impassible, schools closed, buses cancelled (my poor husband had to take the remaining 10 miles of his journey home by foot) and there was mild panic-buying of bread and milk all because of the snow.  By comparison this January has been positively tropical.

“Still, we might get some of the white fluffy stuff in February”  I cheerfully added.

“Oh don’t say that.”

“It’s lovely to look at though, through a  window, with a warm hug of hot chocolate on the go isn’t it?”

“Oh no.  I don’t even like to look at it. I hate the thought that I might have to go out in it and fall over.”

“…..”

What do you say, to someone that’s become so disconnected from the natural world that they can’t even bring themselves to observe it?  You don’t say “There’s no such thing as bad weather…”

I didn’t, but the words were battering on the inside of my teeth, hammering to be let out.  I swallowed them and resolved to go exploring on my next day off.

Today was Explorday and it bore exciting weather; rain frantically racing across the fields in sheets, the wind whipping the wind chimes against the guttering.  The only thing stood between me and adventure was appropriate clothing.  Over the years I’ve learned that it’s easier to cool down when outside than warm up, (it’s all to do with Newton’s second law of thermodynamics for all you physics and Professor Brian Cox fans) so I often tend to over-egg the pudding when it comes to layers.  Firstly base layer.  Thermals are seldom sexy but mighty effective at keeping you warm without adding bulk.  Next waterproof trousers and old skate t-shirt, one pair of thickish socks then jacket and boots.  My boots are possibly my most treasured piece of kit.  After years of searching and being told that no boots exist that will keep your feet super warm AND dry, I found a pair of North Face snow boots.  I adore them.

I then grabbed a map, a flask of tea and some nibbles and headed over to Wandlebury Country Park

In it sits Wandlebury Ring, the remains of an Iron Age Hill Fort.  I’ve never really explored this area although it ticks all my boxes .  The whole site sits within the The Gog Magog Hills or the Magog Downs,  a series of chalk hills that rise to the southwest of Cambridge.

Gog and Magog are said to be  two giants, the protectors of London (who sometimes take part in the Lord Mayor’s Show, here they are with their makers who are not your average basket weavers.)

The hills are said to be the metamorphosis of the giants after they were rejected by the nymph Granta (the river Cam which runs through Cambridge) Utterly fascinating.

Completely beautiful…

Sadly not much remains of the fort except a truly enormous circular ditch and bank, easily 10ft deep in some places, where ancient yews and beeches cling to the chalky inclines.

Slow fingers grip the earth deep…

It has to be said that the most exciting of the weather occurred whilst I was still at home.  Here the air was busy going about it’s daily chores; rustling leaves, dispersing seeds, gently nudging clouds along, but it wasn’t … well it was safe enough to have a rootle around underneath some very tall, very old trees.

There was just enough mizzley dankness to justify the waterproofs though.  Hurrah!

Some of the trees were spectacular, but I had a strange sense of not being alone…

Ancient tracks worn smooth by noctural paws.  The badger paths follow the curves of the land, adding to the the beauty of the place.  There is a Roman road nearby, it is straight, functional and less pleasing to the eye. Hmmmm

Then from around the corner, a tiny, wonky grain store.  It sits on brick pillars to deter rats and mice, but it reminded me of Baba Yaga’s hut.  Her dwelling sits atop a pair of chicken legs in the woodland of Russian folk tales… more of her and her child-eating ways another time.

One day my hands will be this deeply furrowed, my cheeks this weather ravaged, my bones this fragile, my heart this full of quiet tales.

One day..