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Showing posts from August, 2019

A POEM A DAY - OAK PARASOL

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I always love looking up at the sky through trees. This is as rewarding in summer with the cool shade of leaves as in winter when the tree bones are like sculptures in the sky. These oak trees are in a small grove overlooked by fast growing pine, fighting for their own light. 


© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.


A POEM A DAY - COAL TIT

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The sun is shining today but I feel like the clouds are gathering. What better than this lovely photograph by my brother Chris Knight to take me back to our family garden, where any ills would be eased by a little pocket of urban nature. 



© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - FREEDOM KIT BAGS

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Today's poem is in support of the charity 'Freedomkitbags', an important campaign bringing dignity, work, education and real change to society in Nepal. Please consider giving a donation to this charity and help the women of Nepal. I have copied below the information about the campaign from my previous post with links to two poems about the women of Nepal.
Freedom kit bags is a charity providing sanitary wear to women in rural villages and poor communities in Nepal who do not have access to even the most basic provision. We take for granted the pack of pads or tampons thrown in the shopping trolley while these women make do with rags or even grass. In some cases, women are even forced to leave their homes to stay in out buildings whilst they menstruate in the outlawed practice known as Chhaupadi.  Freedom Kit Bags provide all women need to hygienically manage their period, giving women and girls back their dignity and freedom. They are made and sourced in Nepal helping with…

A POEM A DAY - FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT

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Denied a vote in the Referendum and General Elections in the UK, I have no vote or voice in the developing crisis. I am distressed by the situation of the 3 million EU citizens living, working and contributing in the UK and am equally affected by uncertainty over the future of my family and British friends living in Spain and throughout the EU. All I can say is that thanks to the Freedom of Movement rights granted by membership of the European Union I had a second chance at life. Thanks to the warmth and welcome of my Spanish neighbours and friends it has been a good life, my family have been made welcome, worked, been educated and contributed to our local community. I regret deeply that British citizens' right to Freedom of Movement is to end. 


© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - 'LA FONT DE LA FOIA'

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This mountain spring  surrounded by trees runs all year on the hillside overlooking the village and has been used for generations for drinking water . In summer the flow slows to a trickle until autumn rains filter through.  People come from miles away to fill water bottles here, the water is reputed to be good for the health, although warnings are always given that it is not tested. It is a tranquil spot with beautiful views over the valley and village in the distance. 



© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - MOON MARBLE

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This large lump of stone sitting by the path must have fallen from the dry stone wall or been left in its making. Normally lost in the grass the sun striking it transformed the dull rock into a shining, white orb that looked like it had fallen from the moon. 








© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - TREE BREATH OF LIFE

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Yesterday I felt the familiar know of fear when I heard the throbbing of sound of helicopters flying overhead. Somewhere near must be burning. Looking out from our roof terrace I could neither see or smell smoke and it turned out that the activity overhead was probably due to the passing of the Tour'of Spain cycle race through the village and over the 'Carrascal' mountain. Rain is forecast for the next few days which I hope will reduce the fire risk. However trees are burning all over the world, some in natural wildfires, many provoked to clear land for building or agriculture, often with the connivance of governments who look to short term profit over longer term necessity for the earth and humankind. It is good to see people finally reacting to this ongoing threat but it is late already, a massive effort needs to be made to stop and reverse the decline in tree cover in the world. We overlook at our peril our knowledge that the Earth's trees compensate for our filling…

A POEM A DAY - 'ALBUFERENCS'

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The Albufera is a fresh water lagoon in a natural park on the outskirts of Valencia. It is in an area of rice paddies where the rice for Valencian paella is grown and the lake is surrounded by canals and marshland. Bird spotters love the variety of birds breeding throughout the year and there is a visitor centre and hides to watch ducks, herons, egrets, avocets and even flamingos in season. During the day the area buzzes with visitors, especially in Summer months, with the adjacent coast and wooded trails to enjoy. The traditional 'Albuferenc' boats take people out onto the lake and the town of 'El Palmar' at the end of the lagoon fills with people eating as the smell of paella drifts out across the water. 
© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - BUTTERFLY EYES

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There is a hundred metre stretch of path on the hillside where the butterflies play. I have not noticed any particular plant or flower that attracts them but every time I walk there the butterflies appear as I pass the door of pine trunks. Now in late summer they seem slower, a little ragged round their wings, ready to stop awhile on a leaf to let me catch their beauty before they fly away. 





© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - OAK OWL

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On a day our minds are overwhelmed with the reality of the Amazon burning, I look out over our trees. The holm oak trunks were moist yesterday after the recent rain but looking up at the canopy, the leaves looked dry and stressed. Enough rain fell to dampen down the pine needles and reach the earth but the hillside is still suffering after the long, hot summer. I hope the Autumn rains come early to help reduce the constant risk of wild fire.  This oak is one of my favourite trees. A lost branch has left the owl face looking out over the countryside while overhead the pigeons fly. 


© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - RED VEINED DARTER

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The banks of the river in the Pego marshes were dazzled with flitting dragonflies, flashes of brilliant turquoise blue and scarlet crossing our path. This one obliged by landing for a second, just time to snap its beauty before the whirr of wings as it buzzed away. 


© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - 'EL COLL DE RATES'

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Ten minutes drive from my house, the hair pinned road winds us up to 'El Coll de Rates', the mountain pass linking the two valleys. On a clear day you can see the coast line from Gandia to Altea and the island of Ibiza. It feels like the top of the world and looking down to our tiny village, my house in the warren of streets surrounding the church, puts life and my problems in perspective.




© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - TWILIGHT

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This was the view from my roof terrace last night as the sun set. The fierce heat of the last few weeks has cooled slightly but with increased humidity the air is muggy and still . It feels like a storm is brewing. 




© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - SANTA LUCÍA

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This is a detail from the 15th Century painting of Santa Lucía by Maestro de Perea from the collection in the Fine Arts Museum of Valencia. One among many stunning gothic works, this is painted in oils on wood and the brush strokes, gold detail and vibrant colours light up the painting. Santa Lucía is shown holding a plate with two staring eyes. Medieval stories refer to her losing her eyes, either at her own hand or by torture which were then miraculously restored after her martyr's death. Other accounts state the eyes are due to her name, 'luz' meaning light and some northern traditions celebrate her as the bearer of light in the darkness of winter.  Whatever the truth of her life and death she is venerated as the Patron Saint of the blind, of those suffering from eye problems, authors, sadlers, cutlers, glass workers and peasants. 




© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - JARDÍ DEL TÚRIA

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I love city parks, the green lungs of urban areas where people can rest and breathe amongst trees. This park in Valencia is a ribbon of peace running through the city, in the dried river bed of the River Turia. The river was diverted after deadly flooding in 1957 killed 81 people and a plan was formed to protect the city from the risk of future flooding. The people of Valencia campaigned to turn the river bed into an urban park, with the campaign slogan ‘el riu és nostre i el volem verd’, ‘the river is ours and we want it green’. The people won and the park was completed in 1986. It runs for 7 kilometres and is the largest urban park in Spain. It is spanned by more than 20 bridges, many centuries old. It is a space for quiet walking, exercise, jogging, biking, concerts and events, welcoming residents and visitors and loved by all. 

© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - CORREFOC

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'Correfoc' means run with fire and it is a traditional event at Fiestas in this area of Spain. All kind of fireworks are loved here, the traditional displays have been less popular in recent years due to the risk of fire on the hills. The 'mascleta' is a 10 minute long session of rhythmically planned fire crackers, with the bangs increasingly loud and explosive. Our village holds an event called the 'corda' where a rope of rockets is hung down the middle of the dark street at 3 am. Wrapped and protected people enter the caged area, pulling down the rockets, firing them into the air or whizzing them down the street. I hear the noise from the safety of the house and even the screeches of the people, hiss of the rocket and thump of feet is a little scary. I am always glad to hear the injuries are minor.
The 'Correfoc' is perhaps the favourite event in our village, enjoyed by young and old.  Sadly I have to stay shut indoors due to the smoke so have only exp…

A POEM A DAY - LEAPING HARE

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I spotted this detail of a leaping hare or 14th Century stonework displayed in the Museum of Fine arts in Valencia. It is a wonderful museum, worth visiting. I liked the incongruous mix of movement in stone and am always moved by the thought of the artist's hand, so long ago. 






© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - TREEBEARD

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This giant Ficus tree is in the Royal Gardens in Valencia but these trees can be found in parks in cities all across this area of Spain. They are majestic trees, with spreading canopies of rubber tree leaves, massive bone roots above ground and long trailing beards of dropping roots. 





© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - PATH THROUGH THE TREES

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I am grateful to my brother Chris Knight for returning to the woods close to the anniversary of our mother's death and taking this lovely photograph. I would love to be there. This was one of her favourite places, she shared her love of these woods with her children and grandchildren and we are drawn to go back and feel both of my parent's spirits at peace among the trees. 





© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - THE DIVINE AURORA

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On the 12th August Parcent celebrates the Fiesta day in honour of the Divine Aurora. The village band play the 'Aurora' at dawn around the village streets, stopping to serenade the women named after the dawn. After a solemn mass in her honour, a procession takes place, accompanied by the band who once more perform the 'Aurora' in front of the gathered village. It is always an emotional event, where many remember loved ones. Our family will always remember Lilian at this time, as she sighed her last breath whilst her grandchildren played the Aurora. 
With thanks to Lesley Howe for the photograph. 


© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - LILIAN

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I always cautioned my Dad not to get obsessed with dates, birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries. I was trying to protect him but now I think it is perhaps necessary to remember those dates. We miss those we love every day but I think we need the outlet of the special day to be quiet with them, remember and feel their love. My mum died on this day 9 years ago, it is the fiesta day of the Divine Aurora in our village and she died as my children in the band were playing the 'Aurora' in the village square, surrounded by people gathered for the procession. I remembered that night in this poem. https://blog.healingwordspoetry.com/2018/08/the-divine-aurora-in-memory-of-lilian.html

A POEM A DAY - 'ALMUERZO' IN PEGO

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After an early walk in the Marjal marshes we were revived by strong black coffee and 'tostadas' with olive oil, tomato and fresh cheese. The plane trees on the Paseo in Pego offered welcome shade. 



© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - GRANADA

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I was surprised to see this pomegranate tree hanging over the river by the Marjal marshes. It is laden with ripening fruit and soon the glistening, juicy pips will be ready for eating. Maybe it grew from the discarded fruit of a visitor to the marshes. I wonder it the roaming boar whose tracks and snuffling are seen everywhere in this area will like them when they fall to the ground. 











© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - GIANT ALMOND

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Yesterday we visited Gata de Gorgos, a small town near the coast. It is famous for its cane baskets and ceramics which are displayed in shops lining the main road through the town. We spent some time looking for the archaeological museum which was in the Town Hall building, opened by the interesting tourist office employee who showed us the exhibition. I was fascinated to see the number of finds from around the Marina Alta and am motivated to find out more about what remains of the area's past. We also explored the walk along the Gorge, too hot at midday to go far, a walk to enjoy in cooler weather.  High up on the grey slabs of rocks we spotted some large stone sculptures, almonds, a giant walnut and leaves of cactus. They looked like part of the rock landscape, as if a giant hand had broken open nuts and scattered them down the hillside. 

A POEM A DAY - CAT'S EYES

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This little alley is another example of metal art in the village, hand crafted by 'Ferrers de Parcent' with hand picked stone. The cat stared me out and stood his ground as he guarded his territory. 

A POEM A DAY - HOPE

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Yesterday I faced the anger and injustice of having my purse stolen with all my important documents in. The total panic mixed with feeling so stupid for allowing it to happen stayed with me all day. I then had a nasty fall on a stony country lane whilst intending to calm down. At the end of my angry, painful day this photograph cropped up unexpectedly, reminding me how seeing these clouds calmed me once before. This time just the memory and the image worked their magic. Today is another day. Here is the link to the poem 
https://blog.healingwordspoetry.com/2018/11/in-clouds.html

A POEM A DAY - GIANT'S PIPE

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The large seed heads waving amongst the rushes reminded me of the pipe cleaners I used to see as a child. I could picture the 'Muntanyeta' giant pacing through the night  marshes as people sleep, squishing boots in the mud, picking a pipe cleaner stick for his pipe, smoke curling into the dawn sky.  

A POEM A DAY - WILD FENNEL

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At this time of year the browning countryside is greened with the tall, spindly stems of wild fennel. I brush the flower heads as I walk by, releasing the smell of liquorice. Like the older Spanish farmers I snap off a stick of the woody stem and chew it as I walk. The taste whirls me back in time to childhood and the pursed lip taste of inky sweets. I am still unsure if I really like it. 


© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - 'El GARROFER'

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In late August the village streets used to smell of the sweet, earthy carob, dried, curled black seed pods, picked and sacked, the fruit of the 'Garrofer'. Carob has been known as 'St John's bread' as it was said to have sustained St John. It is also the root of the word 'carat' as it was used as a measure for weight of gold and gemstones. The countryside around the village is dotted with old carob trees, no longer valuable as animal feed, the seeds fall to the ground and the trees are no longer pruned and are growing wild. The trunks spread wide, branches touch the ground and self seed and the oldest trees seem locked in the landscape. In this example of new leaf and old root, the roots are almost indistinguishable from the rocks out of which the tree grows. 



© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - AFLOAT

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I am the world's worst traveller, all kinds of transport provoke travel sickness but I think being on water is my least favoured option. I have endured many difficult sea crossings and would never volunteer to get on a boat. However this tranquil scene attracted me, reminded me of rowing boats on the River Avon long ago. I could imagine the peace of slowly paddling on a gentle river with bird song and dragonflies to keep me company.


© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - BOMBA RICE

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La Marjal in Pego is an area of wetlands with a nature reserve and rice paddies where the famous 'bomba' rice is grown. This rice is the staple for Valencian paella, a short grain rice perfect for the paella pan. Yesterday I was struck by the vibrancy of the green, stretching for miles to the sea. Swallows swooped over the rice paddies, ducks paddled in the canals and statue still heron flew up into the sky with a crack of their wings.                 


© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - RHUBARB SHERBET

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Everyday I come across some new, amazing example of the natural world. This plant had sprung from nowhere since I last walked in the Marjal (Pego marshes). It looked alien against the swaying rushes, the red stems and spiky fruit forming a shocking contrast to the marsh of green. 



© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.