Monday, 30 November 2020

The travellers of the field

 



As the month of November closes, I am reminded of Autumn, Keats and the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’.   

Thoughts of recent walks during this season prompted a few lines today.  

Normally at this time of the year the fieldfares (travellers of the field) have returned from Scandinavia to the UK, for the winter.  Their acrobatic flights across the open fields can be mesmerising, stopping walkers in their tracks! 



A misty morning morphs into a sunny day,

Unfurling leaves of red, green, yellow.

Travelling the fields, a flight of fieldfares

Unploughed countryside awaits the new season,

Muddy boots, woolly hats, walkers in conversation,

Nests and hawthorn berries ready for cooler days.






Friday, 2 October 2020

To Write or Not to Write?





Procrastination Monster whispers in my ear, 

 ‘Check your emails first. Make a cup of tea before you settle down. Remember to write your shopping list. What’s for dinner? Music before you start? You can always write tomorrow, can’t you?’

True, I could but …  

In the other ear, Writing Muse, advises assertively,

‘Write, write, write!  Ignore him.  He’s such a distraction.  You know he loves when you abandon writing time.  Don’t listen to him.  He’ll boast with pride knowing that he has persuaded you to stop.

And she’s right.  Like me, she knows the master of procrastination only too well.  

Usually when we reach this point of inner conflict, she directs my attention to one of the many notebooks on my desk, a travel journal, a book of quotes, a poetry book, the latest writers’ magazine. 

‘Choose a page.  Any page,’ she shouts.

Her invitation is welcome. Writing Muse has a gentleness with her persuasive powers. 

His expertise excels in the dark act of distraction.  Not helpful for a writer.

‘A biscuit, a chocolate biscuit and a cup of tea?, he taunts. ‘Have an another break, just a minute or two before you start. Relax. ’ 

I’ve fallen for his charm in the past and the lure of chocolate is enough to distract any writer.

Her look. My hesitation. His snigger.  We’re getting nowhere fast.

‘Writing time.  Focus. Choose a notebook,’ she insists.

And I do.  My notebook of quotes.  A random page falls opens.

She giggles, as do I.

‘What’s so funny?’ he grumps.

‘Go on, read it aloud, share your writing prompt for today.’

With a little clearing of the throat, I enunciate in finest voice.

‘Procrastination is the natural assassin of opportunity’.
 
He is not amused.  He slithers off in disgust, muttering as he goes. 
  
‘Okay, let’s get started’, she says. 

I write … and write ...  relishing the opportunity to write some more. 


Friday, 4 September 2020

Fancy a walk?


 


Avebury, Wiltshire 


Surrounded by books, notebooks, pens and the new all singing, all dancing MacBook, I'm ready to write.  Emm ... but what about?  News? Events? Photos? Picture prompts? Some days the creative juices flow well, other days not! Today, It’s a wild and wet day so I contemplate transporting myself to somewhere else … 

 

‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ … so I grab my mobile phone in search of inspiring pictures and sunnier days of rambling in the countryside.  There are pictures of garden visits, walks walked, family weddings and events attended over the years.  Unfortunately, fewer family gatherings this year as we continue to abide by Covid pandemic rules and restrictions.

 

The picture that speaks to me today is one of a series of photos taken when The Man and I visited Avebury henge and stone circles, in Wiltshire several weeks ago.  Despite a relatively busy car park, there was ample space to walk at our leisure, exploring these magnificent neolithic stone structures. Records indicate that the henge and stone circles were built between 2850 BC and 2200 BC.  The site, henge and stone circles are currently managed by the National Trust on behalf of English Heritage. It’s remarkable walking around and admiring these huge structures.  How were they built?  What was the significance of these formations?  Who was responsible?  Who commissioned henge architecture?  Did they know such pieces would continue to be viewed many years later?  What was life like back in those Neolithic days?  How were the various stones moved from place to place?

 

'The chronology of Avebury's construction is unclear.  It was not designed as a single monument but was the result of various projects undertaken at different times during late prehistory.  Experts date the construction of the central cove to 3,000 BCE, the inner stone circle to 2,900BCE, the outer circle and henge to 2,600 BCE, and the avenues to 2,400 BCE.  The construction of Avebury and Stonehenge indicate that a stable agrarian economy had developed in this region of England by 4000 to 3500 BCE'.

Source: Lumen Learning 

https://courses.lumenlearning.com/boundless-arthistory/chapter/the-neolithic-period/

 

Avebury, my amateur snapshot speaks words of relaxation, history, awe, amazement, time travel, incredible structures.


 Walking boots and a picnic complete the perfect day ... far from the madding crowd.

 



Sunday, 26 July 2020

How is the ‘new normal’ for you?




The field of unknowing


On a recent Zoom call with friends the lockdown conversation continued.  How has it affected you?  Your work? Your lack of work? What do you miss most / least?  What do you appreciate?  What do you find most challenging?  How has it made a difference to how you do things? How do you feel about the ‘new normal’? How do you plan for an unknown and uncertain future? How is the ‘new normal’ for you? How are you ‘being’ in the ‘new normal’?

We shared our thoughts and insights generously and left the call with food for thought.  I’ve been sitting with some of those thoughts over the last few days … note the word ‘sitting’.  Those of you who know me well, know that I don’t do much sitting nor sit around doing nothing for long!  I admit, I’m more of a human ‘doing’ than a human ‘being’.  There’s nothing I enjoy more than participating and engaging in work and community projects, meeting people, making plans and celebrating creative connections. I really enjoy the whole business of social interaction even though at times it can be stressful and painful too. I’ve really missed doing many of the things I’ve done before lockdown. The easing of lockdown means that there is opportunity for a little interaction via ‘social bubbles’ and it’s different in the ‘new normal’ environment. I appreciate and understand the need for face coverings, social distancing and non engagement with shielded people (no hugs just yet!). I’m ‘being’ okay with that.  For me, it’s important, it’s being responsible, it’s being safe.

I’ve noted how our schools are ‘transitioning’ our children with their new classes and different teachers. Taking time to ‘transition’ is really important as many children have missed out on education, learning and seeing friends. With that comes many feelings and emotions.  In many schools, teachers and support staff have really worked hard during lockdown.  I admire their patience, tenacity and resilience with ever changing government guidelines.  There’s been a lot of work in schools preparing our children for  ‘different ways’ and how school will be when they return in September. 

Like the children returning to school, we too need to ‘transition’ to new ways of doing and being. I’m learning to use this time ‘to be’, to re-assess, to think about what’s really important and savour the stillness of the quieter days.  It's tough!  Contemplative walks in nature, I can highly recommend.  For now, there’s time and time enough ‘to be’ in the moment and listen for the ‘what elses’ that are being whispered quietly to me. As a busy ‘do-er’, I’ve often missed these whispers.  In the meantime, I sit patiently in the ‘field of unknowing’ contemplating my transition to the ‘new normal’. 

Saturday, 13 June 2020

What makes you stop and wonder?

Walking on the Pastures of Wonder

Sometimes it takes time for inspiration to nudge my writing pen and me. I confess I’ve sat at my desk often, looking out the window, watching the fluffy white clouds move in slow motion across a bright blue sky, observing the sweeping and soaring of Red Kites and simply wonder. 

Today, I see how well the purple Everlasting Sweet Pea in my garden has stretched and grown from the straggly little stem it once was. It’s a particularly cherished flower, a parting gift from staff and children at a school where I once worked.  The extending branches and tendrils remind me how it has grown over the years and makes me wonder about those children and staff with whom I once worked.  Where are they now? Do they continue to grow and develop?  I loved being part of that growth and development. I continue to do so today albeit in a different place.  I wonder where those staff and children are now?  I wonder how their lives are the same or different?  I wonder how I have grown, developed and changed over the years?  No answers required …merely rhetorical questions at this stage!  However, I wonder if there will be a stage when these questions will be asked and shared again? Perhaps in a favourite space over a cool glass of white wine but not right now …maybe later when Covid-19 has become a distant memory?

During the ‘lockdown’, I have found comfort and solace in reading and writing.  I have particularly enjoyed one of my favourite authors, John O’Donohue. He was recognised by many (myself included) as an inspirational writer. He was a native Irish speaker, born in County Clare, Ireland and wrote several best sellers and poetry collections too, Anam Cara, Eternal Echoes and Divine Beauty.  His last work, Benedictus, was published in 2007.  Sadly John O’Donohue died at the age of fifty-two on 4 January 2008.

I highly recommend his writing.  He writes in a beautiful, lyrical style.  His words encourage thought about many things.  I particularly enjoy his rhythmical writing style and how his words and sentences weave beautifully on the page.  For me, he inspires and permits time for contemplation particularly now in the less busy times … like ‘lockdown’. I am currently reading ‘Walking in the Pastures of Wonder’ and enjoying his conversations on wonder, landscape and balance. This particular book is a collection of radio conversations between John O’Donohue and his close friend and former RTE broadcaster, John Quinn.

I think it’s good to slow down and wonder …

What are you wondering about today?

Monday, 18 May 2020

Who needs a hug?


  

Rainbow hugs by a talented friend



‘The Times they are a changin …’ sang poet and songwriter Bob Dylan in 1964.  And how appropriate are those lyrics for our world today.  How has Covid-19 changed and continues to change our times?  True, it changes how we act, how we react and at times how we refrain from taking any action at all! 

However, it has also provided some of us with an opportunity to take stock of where we are at and what is happening in our respective worlds.  It has highlighted who and what is important.  It has acknowledged the talent within our caring professions and the resilience of keyworkers who ensure essential services operate during these strange and surreal times.  It has changed the ways we meet and greet each other.  Gone (for now) are the face-to-face gatherings where we often greet each other with a big welcoming hug. We continue to respect the social distancing rule of two metres apart. Our connections with family and friends have moved online and whilst this is wonderful for those of us who engage with the technology, it’s not quite the same as a ‘real time’ meet and greet with a hug, is it? 

On a recent online call with friends, the question was asked, ‘What do you miss most in these times?’ The replies included ‘meeting with family and friends’, ‘seeing children’, ‘cuddling grand children’ and 'having a BIG hug'.  Sadly, in times of grief and despair, we would have liked to comfort family and friends.  In these times, hugs are essential and people often need a hug. A hug provides comfort when words are unable to articulate that sense of loss.  I’m a believer that a hug given with love and good intention can make a difference.

During a conversation with a talented, sewing friend, we agreed to create some ‘hugs to share’.  We had both received a little fun gift in the post that made us smile.  A little gift sent with love and it inspired an idea.  We created  ‘a rainbow hug’ for these times, to raise a little smile and as a reminder that hugs have not been forgotten.   So, if you know someone in need of a hug today, do get in touch. 

The ‘times they are a changin …’ and we change too, from real time to virtual time and from virtual hugs to real hugs.  We look forward to a happier time when we can all be together to hug family and friends and the term ‘social distancing’ becomes a redundant word in our vocabulary.


Wednesday, 8 April 2020

What are you grateful for today?


 'Rainbow of hope' by local artists 

As I write today, I’m grateful for many things, firstly my health and wellbeing particularly when so many people are adversely affected by the Coronavirus. I’m thankful and appreciative of our amazing NHS staff, support teams and keyworkers too.

I’m happy that I can do ‘essential shopping’ and take a walk as exercise; some people are unable to do so. I’m also appreciative of the kindness offered in my neighbourhood.  I’ve made several new friends as a result of these connections and all within the mandatory ‘social distancing’ levels!

I’ve been pleasantly surprised by our venture into connections with family and friends through online meeting rooms, video calls and other social media options, once only the right of the busy business folk. There has been much laughter in our family with trial and error video escapades. Who needs to watch television for comedy?  For me, the once reluctant ‘social media engager’, well I’m beginning to grasp the intricacies of newer communication methods. There may be those of you reading who will smile knowingly and say ‘about time!’ 

However, as an ardent fan of ‘talk-talk’ and ‘write-write’, I continue to embrace and enjoy the old fashioned ways of communication. I enjoy a chatty phone call with friends and I love writing and receiving letters.  In fact, I’ve been able to pursue both these fine arts during this strange and surreal Coronavirus time. I’m also a big admirer of the beautiful artwork created by our children in these times.  Have you noticed the colourful ‘rainbows of hope’ on pavements, walls and windows?

On a bright sunny morning last week, I took delivery of a beautiful rainbow from a little family known to me.  This ‘rainbow of hope’ is proudly displayed in my window. So for those of you who live outside my neighbourhood, I share my rainbow with you via this blog post.  I’m grateful to the children who took time to create and colour this striking work of art.  

What are you grateful for today?

Stay safe and well everyone.