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Showing posts from 2019

A POEM A DAY - WINDS OF TARA

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Standing on the Hill of Tara with the wind blowing through me was one of the most memorable days of my visit to Ireland. It is said you can see half the counties of Ireland from the hill and the view was spectacular. I walked along the hawthorn hedgerows where people had left their tied wishes, mostly stems of grass but some rags, rosaries or even written prayers. As we approach a new year and a new decade I hope the winds carry your wishes and we can welcome a kinder, more equal and just time for all peoples and the earth we share. 
© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - EL CARRASCAL

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The 'El Carrascal' range overlooking the village has its own particular weather system. Clouds can build up on the ridge and tumble over or as it did yesterday, rise swirling from the hills like steam from the rock. The morning was cold and damp but once the sun broke through it was strong enough to strip off layers and warm winter bones. 


© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.


A POEM A DAY - WILD ROSEMARY

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I have been reading about the folklore around the use of rosemary at this time of year. It is a culinary herb flavouring stuffings but is also brought into the house for remembrance or lit to smudge away the negative before the New Year. I am lucky to live near hillsides covered in wild rosemary. They grow into head height woody bushes and even in December are in flower. Today I saw tiny blue butterflies and larger speckled red and black butterflies on the bushes, flitting too fast too capture. 



© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - BAIX LA MAR

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This sculpture is in the Barrio Baix la Mar in Denia where it commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the filming of 'John Paul Jones' in this area. The Barrio was once home to fisherman and is a tangle of low cottage houses gathered around squares within sight of the sea. Now many of the homes are business premises offering meals and drinks to the many tourists but the area has a special charm. I used to sit and read in one of its palm shaded squares with a quiet coffee whilst waiting for my children to finish music at the Denia 'Conservatoire'. 
© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - NEW BEGINNINGS

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This image captured on Christmas Eve when we were picking the green for our house reminded me of the tenacity of nature and the hope of new life and new beginnings. 



© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - LIGHTENING

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This time of year can be difficult for those missing loved ones during a holiday season where we feel almost forced to be of good cheer. It is also the time of the longest night, when despite our hectic lives there is a need for quiet reflection. As the solstice passes and the lighter days return, it is good to remember those we miss, include them in our festivities, enjoy telling their stories. That way being together is more than just a yearly celebration dictated by consumption but a special time for families and friends to reconnect and share their warmth. We should also remember those alone and look into our hearts to open our homes and arms to those in need. 
© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - CHRISTMAS CAT

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Wishing everyone who comes across my poetry in all corners of the world a happy day today. May my Christmas wish for peace on earth and goodwill to all be a breath on the wind of necessary change.

A POEM A DAY - FOREVER

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Today is the 69th anniversary of my parent's wedding, my mother died 4 months before they were able to celebrate their fiftieth year married. They were an inspiration of lasting love, overcoming poverty, hardship, ill health and all the stresses of life to support each other in old age. I miss them and remember them with love and thanks. 


© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - PEGO SUN

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A beautiful day in Pego with unexpected heat after the fierce weekend winds and the warmth of being with my family. 
© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - BLESSINGS

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For the Christmas period I will be posting the Christmas wishes tied to the 'rejas' of my house, sending my best wishes to you all. 
© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - CHRISTMAS MAGIC

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This is my window display for the Christmas decorations competition run by Parcent Town Hall. We are asked to use recycled materials and it is judged on creativity, the use of materials and illumination. My plan to invite people to take a Christmas wish was nearly blown away for the fierce winds battering the village last night. I will be posting a Christmas wish each day for all who would like a little cheer.

A POEM A DAY - SPARKLES IN THE WOODS

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The dew drops on this finger size shoot of new pine reminded me of the hidden world beneath us, where microscopic creatures colonise the soil and bugs and beetles scuttle out of sight. Who knows who might dance around this tiny Christmas tree. 
© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - EXCALIBUR

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The hillside was bright today with warming sun. I walked a little nervously as the evidence of wild boar was everywhere, overturned soil, splattered shrubs and broken down stone walls marking their path. This beautiful leaf sprang out from the plant looking like a discarded sword on the forest floor. 

© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.


A POEM A DAY - HEART OF GOLD

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Even in December there is light and colour and beauty. This little plant was bright against the moss green as the sun lit up its heart leaf. 
© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - BOAR DANGER

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Jabali, or wild boar live in the countryside throughout this area of Eastern Spain. They have no natural predator and are becoming a problem as they come down from the hills into villages and towns. The farmers have long since put up with damage to their crops, my neighbour lost a whole field of watermelon to frolicking boar one summer, however their presence on the road is a danger to the boar and man. This past week my family were returning on the motorway from Alicante at 7 in the evening, just past dusk. A huge male boar came from nowhere, glowing orange in the headlights from the terrecotta clay. It hit the car, was killed and the travellers were very lucky to only damage their car and not themselves. I do not know the answer to the problem, much of the area is not fenced and I do not like fences. I would like to think we can live side by side with our wild neighbours without danger to either. 


© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - GORSE

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It is lovely to see a splash of colour in the winter landscape which on a dull day is a palette of mossy greens and grey. When the sun shines every branch and speck of dust comes to life and this yellow gorse was glowing amongst the low shrub of rosemary and spiky holm oak. The flower has a distinctive smell of coconut, which always reminds me of the coconut oil used in summer skin products which at times can be overwhelming on a busy beach. 

© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - STAG

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Walking on the Carrascal hillsides this vision of a stag reared up at me from the branches of an old Algaroba tree. The ground was littered with the gnarled, black fruit of the carob, a tree once planted for its crop but now left to grow wild on abandoned terraces that have become wooded with fast growing pine and the slower growing bushes of native holm oak. December bites with cold winds whirling down the valley whilst the midday sun still warms.© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - CYCLE OF LIFE

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Back to the healing power of nature today, walking in trees, listening to birdsong, being still, finding beauty in decay as part of the cycle of life. Death leads to rebirth, when all seems lost we can find the strength to reflect, recover and renew as spring follows winter. 
© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - THE LIGHT AHEAD

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Today my words seem pointless, only the trust that light and goodness will shine through from the many who value and care for humanity and our earth keeps me from despair.

A POEM A DAY - LIGHT OF HOPE

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Today, once again, I have no vote in an election that will have a major bearing on my future. My disenfranchisement affects me deeply and the situation facing people can feel despairing. In such times I strive to remember the good in the world, to feel hope in the kindness and care I see daily and to recall that in time, even the dark days see the light of the sun. 

© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.


A POEM A DAY - FLARE

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I am struck often by the transformative effect of light. Here a humble stalk of grass was illuminated by the filtered sun, from one angle it was dry, dusty green but standing in the light it became a golden torch.

A POEM A DAY - STIRRING HOPE

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This year as I stirred the Christmas pudding, my wishes were for more than my family health and prosperity. With a world were suffering is normal for so many with worse to come if nothing is done about climate change my wishes are for humanity. That we may wake from the deep sleep and apathy, open our eyes and hearts to truth and work for justice. 
© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - SPARK OF GREEN

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The patio can look a little sad in winter, the geraniums hibernate, the flowers wait for the warm and without the prompt of summer heat we can forget to water the pots. Slowly the bright green leaches from the leaves until a good watering from a few days rain and a burst of mid day sun is enough to bring life to the winter plants. 




© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - THE SPARROW FLOWN

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This little bird is one of the treasures I bought home to Spain after selling our parents house, our family home. He once lived by the front door, watching over the pocket front garden as children walked past to school, slowing to wobble on the low garden wall. Now the bird seems at home on our patio wall, amongst the geraniums.


© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - PEACE IN THE WOODS

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As it is still too wet for me to walk in the trees near my Spanish home, here is a reminder of the beautiful woods in Ireland This is Cnoc Meadha Wood in County Galway, a peaceful and magical place. 

© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.



A POEM A DAY - SACRED STONES

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White quartz stones and granite pebbles have been found scattered around the Neolithic passage tombs at Knowth and Newgrange in County Meath, Ireland. These stones were traced to areas 60 or so miles north and south of the site so were chosen by Neolithic people to place around their tombs. I saw similar stone in the grass around the passage tomb at Loughcrew and white quartz stones are often found around grave sites int the British Isles up until the 15th century. Whilst we have no idea why ancient people collected and worked these stones and used them at sacred sites, it is easy to imagine they had a ritual significance. It is interesting that even today white stone and granite is used to make gravestones and stone chips are placed around graves. 


© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - THE LONG WALK

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Seeing a lost photograph of my mother's parents the other day has my mind wandering back to Galway and my mother's stories of her life there during the war. I knew the Long Walk before I walked it for the first time this September, I recognised the fiery swell of the river Corrib dashing into the Atlantic, had seen in my mind the mist over Galway Bay, the view over to The Claddagh. My regret now is I didn't question her stories, I listened and took them into my heart without asking more about the family, their histories, the details of her young life. It is only when we can no longer ask those questions that we realise their importance. 


© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - RAIN IN SPAIN

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A reminder that the sky is not always blue in the Mediterranean. This area is at high risk from extremes of weather. We can suffer long periods of drought with its consequent effects on the water supply for human use and agriculture. When it rains in Spring and Autumn it is often in the form of devastating storms that swoop up water from the sea and dump it over the land. This can be very damaging, flooding rivers and low land, stripping the hills of their top soil, damaging roads and infrastructure and in the worst cases taking lives. It is also very targeted, one village can have four days of heavy, insistent rain but little damage where 5 miles away another village can take the main hit and suffer extreme effects. These storms are known locally as 'Gota Fria' or the cold drop or now by the letters 'DANA' which in Spanish stand for upper level isolated depression. 
So far my village has escaped the damage of the coastal towns of Denia and Xabia. I slept little during …

A POEM A DAY - BLESSED RAIN

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If you raise your eyes from street level you can spot the rusting faces adorning drain pipes on old houses in the village. No one I have asked has an explanation for them, other than as decoration but in this land blighted by drought and flooding rain, I like to think she is offering up a prayer for gentle rain. Not rain that washes away roads and strips the hills of topsoil, flooding the plains and coastal towns but rain to nurture the earth, fill the underground rivers, to gush out of the ground in natural springs. 




© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - DOLLY MIXTURE

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On a dull day with the valley covered in cloud these tiny bursts of flower lit the bushes with colour. They reminded me of the sweets I loved as a small child, playing with the shapes and colours, organising them in my hand.  I am glad of gentle rain, the trees are suffering after a long, dry year and the air needs washing clean of wind borne pollens. 
© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - PINE BUTTONS

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On the first day of December the sun is shining, the light playing across the bands of pines snaking across the hillside. On the way to the shortest day I feel the need to make use of every hour of light and look forward to sitting still, listening to the trees. 




© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - DUMPLINGS

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The creamy richness of these mushrooms reminded me of dumplings rising together in a steamy stew. I am impressed by the number of fungi experts and lovers who identify, cook and enjoy the bounty from the woods and meadows. Here the 'seta' is the prized autumn fruit, its location kept secret, the large earthy terracotta gills brushed carefully free of soil, sizzled with a little olive oil and sprinkled with salt. 


© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - ANCIENT BOUNDARIES

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This moss covered tree was part of a hedge marking the boundary between two fields in the hills above Carno in Wales. It had a feeling of deep age and I wondered about the history of the people living here, who had walked along this line or crossed between the trees. 
© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - SEA SCULPTURE

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This is a photograph of the sandstone rocky coast at Xabia on the Costa Blanca. The shore shows the hand of man where years of block cutting of sandstone for building has left rocks like lego bricks. Where the waves hit the shore the action of the sea has shaped the stone into more interesting shapes where the backwash streams through splashing foam on the sandy rock. 



© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - TREE LACE

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The light in Spain is renowned for inspiring artists and at times there is a brilliance in the air that illuminates nature. This winter day was brightened by the sun breaking through a dull sky, blazing light over the scene. 
© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - FAERIE CHAIRS

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These woodland seats are in Crackley Woods in Warwickshire, one of my favourite places. Since childhood I have walked in these woods, holding my mother's hand and then her arm as she aged. My children have run through the trees and perched on the faerie chairs and I hope to take my grandchildren there.  Part of the woods are under threat from HS2 and I hope the campaigners succeed in preventing more damage to this ancient and precious woodland. 
© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - GRIEF

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Today I miss the garden, I would visit every year between September and Christmas, sometimes twice. I loved the winter garden, the branches of trees revealed, the redness of berries, the frosted oak leaves littering the ground. Most of all I loved sitting with my parents, watching the birds and squirrels.  Too infirm to tend their garden, it had grown wild, an urban sanctuary for birds and wildlife. The trees and bushes were full of life, robins, blackbirds, wood pigeons swooping down from the Oak to startle the feeding birds, bushy tailed squirrels raiding the bird table, crows and magpies claiming dominion, flitting sparrows from the shorn beech hedge. A little part of us all stays in the garden. As grief unexpectedly returns, I take hope in my Dad's positivity, his joy in the dawning day, sunshine breaking through cloud. 



© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - RENEWAL

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These trees grow in the Redwood grove at the Royal Forestry Society arboretum near Newtown in Wales. 
This sign describes how the trees grew out of a fallen trunk that stayed rooted. They are an example of the tenacity of nature, not just clinging on to life but blooming wherever possible. It is possible to see tiny shoots and leaves growing out of the rooted trunks ready to grow new trees. 
© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - HAND ON HAND

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This door knocker is on a door  in front of my house and an example of the hidden art in my Spanish village. The old house is used as a storage space and no one lives there. Since my grandson was a tiny baby in arms I have walked the four metres between the two doors and held him up to knock the hand. I love the detail of the ring and the ruffled sleeve and I wonder how many hands have held the cold metal over the generations that lived in the house. 



© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - DEN

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Walking on the Carrascal hillside I am always aware of the unseen. Mainly the wild boar whose presence is evident in the digging and rooted earth they leave behind each night. Sometimes I walk through an area with a strong, pungent smell where boar must be nearby.  Other woodland creatures also live and move beneath the trees, fox, rabbits and small rodents along with snakes and all kinds of insects. At this time of year as leaves fall their dens are move obvious. I resist the temptation to peep inside the hidden holes, beneath ivy, dug into stone walls or the roots of the holm oak.  
© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - WINDOW TO THE SKY

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Leaning on the old oak trunk, warmed by the midday sun, I gazed through the branches. The window to the sky drew my eye as I listened to the humming bees feeding on the rosemary and followed a butterfly flitting around the leaves. My eyes started to close as the blue overwhelmed me and for a few minutes I floated, drowsing, in the sky. 

© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - SHADOW WINGS

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This was one of four different types of butterflies flying around the trail on the hillside. One was a large white butterfly, the rosemary bushes were covered with tiny blue, grey fluttering butterflies too quick to catch on a photograph whilst I spotted a large, lone red and black butterfly in the oak tree. Despite the cold air, the bright sunlight and buzzing of bees made it feel like a Spring day. 
© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - NATTY DRESSER

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I love this tiny plant, peaking out of the undergrowth, the stripes reminding me of a city suit. It reminds me of a childhood fairy story where the good people sewed their clothes from the plants and flowers around them. I can still picture the illustrations but have no idea of the author or illustrator. I would play in the garden with bits of leaves, acorn cups and flowers, fashioning them into tiny hats and clothes. 


© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - SWASH

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The sounds of nature surround us yet we need to stop for a moment and really listen. Standing by the sea recently I let the sound of the sea trickling through the pebbled beach wash over me, whilst the shrill of the seagulls circling overhead added to the soundscape. The effect was as hypnotic as the unending, rhythmic movement of the waves, calming and restoring. 
© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - VINE BUTTERFLIES

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The Vall de Pop is a grape growing area, the grape harvest taken in trailers to the the Cooperativa in Xalo where various wines are produced, the most famous being the sweet dessert wine 'Mistela'.  At this time of year the vines are losing their leaves and yesterday I walked through fields lit by the late afternoon sun, the light shining through the leaves in glorious colour. Soon the leaves will be gone and the vineyards rowed with curling dwarf trunks. 

© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - SEA OLIVES

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I have seen these furry sand coloured balls on Spanish beaches for years and never discovered what they are. One of the pleasures of this photo poem project is noticing nature and finding out about plants, trees and wildlife. These balls are the by product of a sea grass called Posidonia Oceanica that grows in banks of swaying green. It is found throughout the Mediterranean and is a sign of a healthy sea environment as it also absorbs large amounts of carbon dioxide. Biologists are monitoring the plant and it is considered a threatened species needing protection. The balls are formed by plant debris and other sea matter, rolled around by wave action and deposited on the sands. They are known in Italy as 'olives of the sea', whilst the plant itself also bears the delightful common name of Neptune Grass. 

© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - SEAGULLS

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The seagulls lined up on the crest of the pebble beach, so still is was hard to spot them against the grey white spectrum of the stones. As one the flock rose into the sky, their clapping wings flashing. 

© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - ANOTHER WINTER

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Three years have passed since my father died. Three years seems enough to recover from this loss but in this time I have learned that grief has no timetable. What is right for one is not for another and there should be no judgement at how we feel or the length it takes to become accustomed to a new reality. 
In a way I don't think we ever are the same again, we just learn to continue life without our special people in them. When Dad died I also lost the link to my mother, who we talked of every day and kept alive together and my connection with my childhood and sense of place when the family home was sold. Living away certainly intensifies these feelings. 
My best advice for the newly bereaved is the classic cliche of time. Keep them present, don't hide them away, include their memories, stories, opinions in your daily life and in time the sadness of their going eases and their presence in family life becomes natural and easy. 
I can still be overwhelmed with unexpected sadness w…

A POEM A DAY - MARKING THE PATH

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This sapling growing straight as a telegraph pole stands on the path through the trees on the Carrascal hillside. It is garlanded in ivy and reminded me of a Maypole, marking the way. The evergreen pines and the late Autumn sun are still greening the landscape, touches of Autumn showing in the falling cones and acorns and red berries still dotting the shrub. 

© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.