Ephemeral Beauty

Showering petals of hawthorn and apple,
laburnum and wisteria confetti,
white lavender yellow swirling,
dashed down upon pavements
covering the way with destruction
in remnants of flowers,
ephemeral beauty left to waste away.

Today the chilly air
rippling puddled water,
surging unimpeded,
ambushing at corners,
sneaking through hedges,
tossing cow parsley
snatching at buttercups
battering forget-me-nots
each into submission.

Bow down before me
I am the wind —
the reaper the shaper the taker,
a force of nature,
fierce storm buffeting
gentle breeze caressing,
turning one to the other
unannounced be prepared —
a power whom you dare never ignore.

Showering petals of hawthorn and apple,
laburnum and horse chestnut confetti,
white yellow cream swirling,
dashed down upon pavements
covering the way with destruction
in remnants of flowers,
ephemeral beauty left to waste away.

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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.

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

Welcome message to a Small One

Dear Small One,

You are only eighteen days old now. You do not know me. I know you because your daddy is the vicar here in the village where we live. I was introduced to you on the street by your mum, as she was trying out your new pram, when you were a week old. You were small and beautiful and contentedly asleep. And, it was evident to me, you are surrounded and protected by the love of your family.

I do not know if you are an ‘old soul’ or a newcomer. I have not held you, nor have you touched my hand, which is how I usually sense such things. As I am not family member nor close friend of your family there is no reason I should have had the opportunity to engage you in such a way.

But, having met you I feel there are some things I wish to share with you as you start out on your life journey.

1. Always be open to wonder. Never allow anyone to explain, or try to explain away, all the mystery of life. There really are things we do not need to understand. There are those that a best left to our faith or imagination.

2. Look up at the clouds. Allow yourself to see the great creatures and remarkable skyscapes created by the Cloud People.

3. Walk through the fog. Enjoy that the Mist Folk are giving you a multi-sensory hug.

4. Don’t be afraid to get wet on a rainy day. Lift your head to the sky and let the rain splash down on your face. Be refreshed and cleansed.

5. Take the time, especially when you are an adult to stretch out in the grass under a tree on sunny summer’s morning  and let the leaves dapple the sunlight across your face. Or do the same on an autumn afternoon, letting the leaves drift the first and only time they will dance free of the tree that held them and for which they worked all their lives.

6. Make friends with trees and the hedgerows, old ones and young ones, for they are wise, forgiving and comforting presences.

7. Listen to and be nourished by the stories of your religious tradition, but also find out the stories of other faiths. What separates us is mostly how we understand and express that which is most important from a spiritual perspective. I do not any longer share the faith in which you will be raised, although I was raised in it as you will be. Please remember that religion is not inherently good, any more than religious people. Institutions and people are not perfect, though some more than others claim to strive for perfection or proclaim they possess it and hold the truth.

8. You will find, sooner or later, that life presents you with good times and ones that are not so good. You will experience, because we all do, moments of inexpressible joy and seemingly unendurable grief. These are to be lived through and with. They offer us lessons and opportunities to grow.

9. You will learn that many horrible things can and do happen in the world. Life is as perilous as it is wondrous. There are going to be floods, droughts, avalanches, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and wars.  The first three are not infrequently the result of shortsighted human action or blatant inaction; the last is caused only by the ignorance, greed or stupidity of humans beings.

10. Do not give into despair though. For nature also gives solace and joy, in the beauty of birdsong and dragonfly dances; puppies and kittens to cuddle; okapis and elephants and frogs, among countless others, to at which to marvel. You will also come to experience directly the wisdom, generosity and intelligence of human beings and share them with others.

11. Live your life with honourably and with integrity. Know what you believe and value. Be able to express those not only in words, but in works. The doing of your belief and acting from your values will be by far more powerful than just speaking them.

12. Know that you are never, ever truly alone, you have Guardians watching over and traveling at your side. You may not see them, and as you get older you may not sense them in the same way, but they are there. When you feel something has brushed up against you and there is no one around and the air is still, it will be one of them reaching out and reminding you.

13. Always, always say thank you. Thank you for life and for being alive, everyday. Be grateful for small things, that seem almost too insignificant to notice. But do notice and respond with gratitude. And do this not to be noticed, but because you are aware of yourself and the world in which you are blessed to share in.

14. Know and come to experience that you are related to every single creature that lives or ever lived on this fragile and amazing planet. The physicists and chemists are right when they say we are made of stardust and thus enkinned to all the animals and plants, the soil beneath our feet and the clouds floating above our heads. But our ancestors knew this before there were any scientists. They knew because they sensed it and felt it.  So, allow yourself to sense and feel it,too. This is knowing that is far deeper and more reliable than the knowledge written in the textbooks  you will study as you go to school.

Finally, and perhaps most important of all, know and remember that first and foremost, you belong to yourself. Your essential being belongs to you. Your body is yours alone. You belong to yourself before you belong to your family or your God. You have the freedom, the right and the responsibility, to share yourself only when, where and with whom you choose. Share without coercion. Share without fear. Share from love. Share only from love.

So small one. . .

May your journey through life be one filled with experiences of wonder, serendipity, challenge, companionship and love.

Rejoicing in the hope a new life brings to all of us, I offer you my blessing as you go forth to make your way in the world.