The Grain does not know . . .

The Grain does not know that the Harvest is coming.

This message came to me over a month ago and settled into my awareness and went silent for a while. Several days ago it came back, chanting and pushing and insistent – a Lammas warning, perhaps.

The Grain does not know that the Harvest is coming.

I heard this originally pertaining to a certain dream series I had several months ago that were about an personal matter. But, it has wider meanings this time of the year.

As I walk out into the countryside, the delicate scent of camomile wafts from the field boundaries and on the path flies are zizzing all around me through the stinging nettles.

Camomile 1      Flies

Along the way I saw the one of the wheat fields had been harvested, and another had not.
Wheat cut            Wheat uncut

The grass is rolled for storage.

Grass baled

The maize tassels are turning russet brown in the bright sun.

Maize

The walnuts and conkers are ripening on their respective trees high above my head.

Walnuts             Conkers

I have not yet seen acorns, but not visited the tree who might bear them in a few weeks. The hazelnuts are already being harvested though shells are white and their covers are still downy green and soft, not yet nut brown and dry.

Early hazel harvest   Hazel cluster

The elderberries are still green and compact, though sparse.

Elderberries

However, some rowan berries are red ripe.

Rowan berries

I saw one ripe yew berry, the victim of hedge trimming, but most are still green.

Yew berry on the floor    Yew berries

The haws are turning on some trees and a few blackberries are making an attempt to ripen, but the dry spell, even after all our rains may bring a meagre harvest for the creatures to forage the hedgerows, and for the latter I include me.

Haws      Blackberries

The apples are blushing in the sunshine.

Blushing apples           Blush apple

The mangel wurzles are bursting from the ground; tatties are still flowering, though some are prepared to be taken from the earth.

Mangle Wurzles    Flowering tatties

Field tatties green    Tatties of havest

The Grain does not know that the Harvest is coming.

These photos are idyllic, pastoral, speak of the way of the seasons. The natural order of being. Yet, the words still haunt me. They make me squirm. They make me think deeply about every day in the bright, hot summer.

I find it difficult in part because summer has never been my best season, beyond the mosquito bites to which I am allergic and the absence of school when I was younger. I know that the light emanates from sun and shoots out into the bleakness of space. Some of it radiates this planet we call home in the precise amounts to allow us to live, unless we mess it up and lose the ozone layer and cover ourselves in too thick a blanket of CO2.

All that science acknowledged and intellectually understood, the part of me that deals with and senses and feels the energies of all that surrounds me tells me that the plants and the animals invoke the light and call down the heat at this time of year. This is the oppressiveness that I feel nearly every summer, except when their calls go unheeded and it is damp and chilly and mostly overcast. In the height of summer even the shade can feel too heavy as the leaves pull in the sun’s energy and they turn a dark green, and often crackle in the wind.

The Grain does not know that the Harvest is coming.

The summer is not passed. The harvest is beginning. The days are gradually contracting, but it is still hard to notice. The sun feels brighter and hotter, though we are slowly tilting away from its strength.
The wheat and maize are standing tall and stiff until they are taken down. The winds glide in graceful patterns over the barley fields. The oats shake and nod in the breeze. None of the individual stocks or stems knows their fate. None of them realise they work for us. None of them know we humans will in due course take their lives away. And we and the other creatures do so to sustain and maintain our lives in the great food chain by and in which we are all, as living beings, bound.

Sobering thoughts. Serious contemplations. In the wider understanding of consumerism, we may not giveth, but we surely have the power to taketh away – take away the life of any other creature or plant that is in our way, that we can exploit for gain, that we can create a demand for. And in so doing we destroy a little more of ourselves. We continue to reap what we cannot sow. In many cases what can never be sown again.

The Grain may not know that the Harvest is coming, but we do.

Swifts

Swifts tilting with the clouds
soaring swooping singing
sharing locations
perhaps
to avoid collisions
as the best rehearsed
aerobatic teams.

Parents seeking sustenance
for the young.
waiting hungry
nestlings straining
reaching out to be
first in line
when food arrives
of a sudden feathered swirl
unannounced,
mouth opened
straining,
eager to be grown
and ready
too soon going forth,
their epic journey
making for parts
they know for never
having been.

On a summer’s morning
a future unimagined
overcome only
by their hunger,
as through the sky
reaching closer each pass
towards the clouds
parent birds
seasoned swifts swirling
singing staccato squawking
ceaseless motion barely
pausing even to the nest,
delivering nourishment
building for the future
strengthening their kind
for more tomorrows.

Swift flyers       Two Swiftlets 1  Two Swiftlets 2  Swift feed Swiftlet reaching out

 

Experience transmutes to Memory

Yesterday morning I took a walk. I did not have an intended destination, I seldom do. As it was a lovely, sunny, breezy summer morning so I set off at 8am camera in hand, notebook and pen in my waist pack, phone and keys in their places.

I noticed the patterns of the clouds and vapour trails in the pale blue sky. I tried to decipher the messages in the sky oghams.

I caught sight of a magpie wheeling off of a branch in time to see and record it.

Magpie fleeing

Did not meet any of the dog walkers I know by dog’s name, Archie or Henry or Ben or Mink or Poppy, if not by the theirs. It was an amble. I headed down the street I usually do to leave the village. Turned down the lane I often use and after crossing the bridge over the stream turned left. I had taken only a few photos, by this time.

A damselfly danced before me, landing close enough . . .

Damsel fly

I’d not walked far, looking over the stream and across the nearest field when I caught some movement. I used my camera’s zoom to see what it was and this is what I saw.

1st Deer 1                           

I watched for quite some time, taking photos and then saw this as well

2 Deer 1                          

I continued to watch transfixed and then the two youngest walked into the field.

                         

More watching, more photos.

Another Bambi Shot                            Fawn Spots

Some dog walkers I didn’t know were coming down the path yammering away and I signaled for quiet. They obliged and I indicated the two young deer. They whispered there were a lot about but had not seen any this young. For a moment they shared the wonder, then went right back to their walk though speaking more quietly than when they approached.

I continued to watch as the two deer moved closer to me and the stream, unaware of my presence.

Heading this way                            Heading off

I stopped taking photos and in a few moments they vanished. I waited and then walked on down the path. They did not appear in the adjacent field . . .

I was amazed at the speed that a severely cut back old willow had regenerated in only a few months. the gyrating dance of the poplar leaves transfixed me . . .

Poplars

Leaving the path at its end I crossed two small bridges and entered a turnip field. I turned right off the usual pathway and where there were not crops I made my way to sit for time engaging the ash and oak across the field from me . . .

Gazing up through the leaves of the oak in whose shade I sat . . .

Looking up

Then my phone rang, believe me a rare occurrence. It was a friend asking if I’d like some raspberry pavlova left from a party she’d had the night before. Oh, yes please! As she was going out within the hour I got up, thanked the tree for the shade and asking if I could come back. Yes, you may. I walked a good deal more quickly back into the village. I walked along the stream and through the field and back on to the street.

The magic of the encounters had transmuted from experience to memory. What was a now became a then. Life and wonder, awe and sadness, because unpleasant things move that way, too. For the wondrous and delightful things it enables us to hold them to look back on with wistful fondness. For the unpleasant and painful it gives us the distance to let go when we are ready.

I got to my friends and she sent me off with the pavlova . . .

Eating it was another kind of wonderful experience, and different quality of memory. Raspberries, from her garden, cream and the crunch of meringue, delicate tastes of an English summer.

All that before elevenses. . . I wasn’t sure I could have topped it for the rest of the day. I didn’t even try. But, I was and remain attentive and open to what experiences and memories may yet await.

It’s the small things

As is quite usual for me, it’s the small things that seem most to mark my days. Yes, I am aware of larger patterns and shapings, but they are not so immediate until they are. The little things though, well they are there and not always for long.

They catch my attention,

draw my eye,

Wee toadstool

change my whole plan and framing of a day.

It happened several times this week, I paused to look carefully. I spent the time to look very closely to see if I could take some photos I’ve been trying unsuccessfully for days that feel like weeks due to my frustration. But in the last week I got the photos.

            

Doing so was an exercise in patience and perseverance, in gentle negotiation with my subject, battling the wind and rain, and plain dogged determination to succeed if I could. To prove something to myself. About myself, maybe. About my place in the greater scheme of things, perhaps. And, just possibly none of these.

The one incident that stands out, however has to do with a moth. I was walking down one of the streets I take frequently to get away from the village far enough to have a long view of the countryside and not hear the roar of traffic. I came upon a moth in the middle, smack dab in the center of the road. I did not feel I should leave it there, since it did not stir as I approached I knew something was amiss.


I gathered it up gently and began a relationship that lasted nearly an hour, which I imagine for a moth is a very long time.

I could tell it was letting go of its life, having sustained an injury. So I spent some time trying to listen for what it wanted me to do. If it had any last wishes. I tried a few times to put it on a sturdy branch or a wall, but it would have none of it. We went to one of my favourite looking out places and I leaned on a fence and held it to see the wide sky and the fields, it wanted to do that again.

I walked slowly, for though I had errands to do, this was suddenly much, much more important. It did not mind me taking photographs of it in my hand, which was not easy given the shape of my camera, even though it’s one I can comfortable hold in my hand. The shutter, well they used to be called shutters anyway, was on the wrong side. With a bit of hand gymnastics I was successful.

We visited the Hazel and Rowan trees I commune with and one of the Willows. We walked down a sheltered lane with the hedges grown full and high — the cleavers and cow parsley taller than me. The bees were at work in the vetch. The sun was not shining and it kept threatening rain, but I walked on with my companion. Eventually, it became clear that it wanted to go to an Elder tree. I went past several, but I knew the one it wanted. We made our way there, and I plucked a red clover on the last bit of the walk. I knew we were about to say good-bye.

All the time we were together I could feel its clingy, delicate feet on my finger and palm of my hand. I looked carefully at its markings, at its face. It was so downy. I wondered how it managed to fly and land. I wondered how it perceived its reality. As an animist I knew it had its own wisdom and sentience, and more importantly it had a soul and ineffable spirit, somehow and some way.

When we got to the end of our shared journey, I placed it on the top of a tall wooden gate post that reached into the particular Elder tree to which we had been bound to make our way together. I placed it carefully on the post, and put the clover with it. The moth seemed contented. I thanked it for its company and sharing a small portion of its life journey with me. I did not look back. I spoke an intention/prayer that its onward journey be as it was meant to be, but painless and swift as might be.

The way back to the road where we met was a lonely walk. Such a small being took up so much space in my heart for about three quarters of an hour, but it could have been eons for all I was aware at the time. Only when we parted did I re-enter the flow of regular, mundane time. And I have no issues with mundane time. But to have those moments of extra-ordinary time are precious. If all our time was spent there we would not have the same appreciation of those instances of exceptional rarity and wonder.

The rest of that day before and after my encounter with the moth were filled with frustration, taking far longer than it should have, with far more bother to achieve the two main tasks of the day. Those tasks were supposed to be the really important ones — I know now they were not.

The Embrace

Friday was a revelation . . .

I was walking to the weekly Coffee Morning at the local Methodist. I left early and walked the ‘back way’, that is on the footpath beside the fields. It was sunny and not too warm yet.

The birds were singing,

bumblebees humming,

and the scent of May flower

Mayflower 1                Mayflower 2

and the first gentle wafts of elderflower floated on the air.

Elderflower

All of a sudden I was swept up in the glorious feeling of joy and elation at being, at being alive, at being able to walk this path, at being able to see the beauty, at being aware of so much that I could not see, or smell but could perceive going on around me and beneath my feet.

I smiled. I nearly wept, as I am as I recall that experience — my eyes mist and misted over with tears.

Delight. Wonder. Enchantment. Love . . . yes love. Not the mushy kind we often feel for each other. But a deeper and more profound love, that of the Awen, the Source, the Knowers, the Patterners reaching out to embrace me. To hold me in their familiar and yet utterly different, I hesitate to say alien, embrace. Not the embrace of desire as we normally understand it, but desire nonetheless — the desire that I should know and feel the presence of that which flows through and enables all life and living, everywhere and everywhen. The desire that I should experience this in a new way, that I was ready to know and feel this, that I was strong enough, open enough, willing enough to take it on, take it in and be taken on, taken in by it.

It was a moment, broad and protacted, out of time. I still feel it in remembering. It is the most profound such experience I have ever had. And my response was gratitude. It reinforced my understanding that living the Druid path for me is in part about reverence and gratitude and humility. I was awed by what my senses picked up. The smallest thing had the greatest meaning. There was no insignificance anywhere. It spread out from me, the awareness. It was living through Aslan calling all being from himself at the creation of Narnia, standing beside him as life came to be. It is a passage I have always loved, and in some miniscule way lived with him in an instant. I was suffused in grace and bathed in wonder. Everything around me pulsed with life, I could almost see, and certainly sensed, felt the threads of the Awen weaving us all together — one being, one life, One.

The experience changed me forever. It renewed and refreshed and remade me. I do not have words, though I have tried to find some for this sharing. I was given this gift without nearly dying first, and I am also grateful for that.  I take nothing for granted, offer only gratitude.

The White Spider

First of all I want to aplogise to any of my readers or followers who suffer from arachnophobia — of course if that were the case I doubt you would be reading on in any event. I take the risk of lowering my look in stats as well! But, it’s only just this once, really, and the photos are at the end, if that makes any difference. Ah, no . . . well,  then I hope you will read the next post.

Since I will be busy the next several days and may not have time to do another post before the end of the weekend, and I wanted to share my reflections about this amazing creature who has been living in one of my columbines, right outside my front door, for most of the week — well, I just noticed ‘her’ this week.

Don’t get me wrong I am not an arachnophile, I am pretty much arachnid neutral. If there is one in the house I catch it and re-home it outside. I do not court their presence. And, unless of course they are of the gianormous wolf-spider variety when do get a bit twitchy, will calmly do what needs to be done for all of us to live happily ever after. If it is a great big one I grit my teeth and get on with it. I never kill one.

For the record I found Shelob and Aragog to be completely revolting to look at, so for the most part I didn’t after acknowledging briefly the skills of the CG artists who created them.

I find this particular specimen to be quite compelling. I have seen lots of brown spiders. I have even once seen a black widow, its red hourglass marking reminding that should it bite your time is up.

To be honest I did not even see her until I was taking a photograph of the flower she was living in/on and picked her up in macro mode. I was instantly taken by her.  Her beauty. Her delicacy. Her sense of presence. I felt some sort of connection to her, with her. I have always felt good about having a Guard Spider, as I call them, spinning a web near my front door. It feels like there is a watcher there. I have not seen any sign of her web. I don’t know what kind of spider she is, what her proper scientific name is, and it doesn’t matter. She is White Spider to me and that seems to be fine with her when I speak to her each time I’ve left and returned home this week.

I am concerned as her flower is beginning to fade and pull back into the next part of its journey. It has been rainy today and I admit I have not looked to see if she is still there, though I will when I finish writing this.

What she has caused me to do is to think about how we let fear rule us. Fear can be justified as a rational response to a particular situation and totally irrational at the same time. That paradox doesn’t make the fear any less real, nor the often visceral response to the trigger an easier to overcome or assess. Fear can be a warning not to do something or go into a certain situation — it is well to listen to those. I have experienced that kind of fear and had my own fears of the other sort. I know whereof I speak.

Whilst I’m not afraid of White Spider, there are those I know who would be, people I love and care about who would not even engage the notion that she could be possessed of a beauty because her very form is found to be revolting, dredges up terrible childhood memories or just is something unidentifiable about her that is squeamish making.  It occurs to me as I write this that fear in some ways is not unlike prejudice, in fact the former often feeds the latter. Both fear and prejudice diminish our opportunities for engaging with the world around us and those with whom we share it – spiders . . . immigrants. . . .

I guess I say some of these things to remind myself as much as anyone else that fear is limiting.  I am/have been struggling with certain things that I have been afraid of and the journey to overcome them has not been easy. But, as I move away from the place in myself of fear into the not-fear place I can say the journey has been and continues to be worth the effort, the pain and the struggle. It isn’t just one time thing. I know I will have to remain vigilant. However, the rewards of the new way of being me and perceiving my reality are so amazing I know I can’t return to the fearful me. I missed so much. There so much more I won’t have to miss in the future.

Here are some photos of her, and you can see why I might have missed her without the camera lens:

White Spider 1 White Spider 2 White Spider 3 White Spider 4