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Showing posts from November, 2019

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.


A POEM A DAY - THE THREE FAIRIES

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The Three Fairies Dancing sculpture at the Rollright stones is the work of environmental sculptor David Gosling and his son Adam and reflects one of the legends associated with the stones. It is said that fairies live beneath the Kings stone and come out at night to dance around the stone circle. The sculpture is inspired by William Blake's painting 'Oberon, Titania and Puck with fairies dancing' from A Midsummer night's dream. It is a nice thought that Shakespeare may have known the Stones as they lie close to the old Stratford to London road. The dancing fairies have an amazing energy, they seemed semi real on a windy, grey day and were perfectly at home next to the Stone Circle and near the beautiful wood sculptures in the Whispering Knight's wood project a few hundred yards from the stones.  
© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.


A POEM A DAY - APPLE TIME

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I came across another abandoned field of trees in the Vall de Ebo, the ground covered with bright red fruit, the last, worm ridden apples still clinging to the branches. I fell in the deep pitted earth, holes covered with fallen leaves rooted by the wandering boar. 


© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - BEACH SCULPTURE

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Once you start looking there is art and beauty everywhere in the natural world. This combination of a pine cone blown from distant trees and sea washed strands lay together on the beach this week, one of many such interesting formations from the debris on the sands. Thankfully the beach was surprisingly free from human rubbish. I picked up some bits of bleached plastic and blasted glass. 


© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.


A POEM A DAY - SKY CANVAS

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I was reminded of Turner skies when driving from the coast inland to the village. The sky was an ever changing canvas of cloud, sun and incredible colours which only an artist like Turner would have a chance of capturing. The scale of blues was later tinged with rose pinks as the sun set and I was thankful for the beauty that surrounds us. 





© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - OUT OF TIME

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The countryside around my home in Eastern Spain is changing with small, family based agriculture being abandoned as young people give up working the land. This is due to a number of factors, rural depopulation as people find work in towns, the unsustainable costs of production as the financial reward is so low it costs more than is earned to grow crops and a change in the culture. Family grown food is not as valued as it was in times of hardship and tending the land after work and at weekends is not attractive for the younger generation as their parents age and are not able to keep up the physical work. This has led to terraces and fields all over the region growing wild as olives, almonds and oranges are left to nature and the land is waist deep in grasses, fennel and wild shrubs and young trees. It will be interesting to see how this process develops, whether there will be political support for local, small scale agriculture and if it ever becomes profitable again, whether the young…

A POEM A DAY - SAINT BRIGID'S WELL

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This image captures a moment at St Brigid's Well in Liscannor, Country Clare in Ireland. The well is found just off the road, at the foot of a beautiful, wooded cemetery. It is a modest place, a statue of St Brigid looking out towards the Atlantic Coast is enclosed in a glass case, surrounded by flowers in a small circle of stone paving. The grotto leads into the rock, the entrance walls filled with statues of Saints, photographs of loved ones, prayers, rosaries, burning candles and letters of request to Saint Brigid, many for sick or deceased relatives of friends. The fading photos have a deep poignancy and reverence and whatever ones belief it would be hard not to be moved by the faith evidenced here and the simplicity of the worship. The well itself is a small square of water refreshed from a running spring. It is said to have healing powers and this well is just one of many throughout Ireland dedicated to Saint Brigid. She is one of Ireland's most revered Saints and it is …

A POEM A DAY - A NEW DAY

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I read today an article describing the benefits to mind and body of spending time near water, particularly the sea. Coincidentally I had planned to go to the beach after a period of ill health had kept me inside for a few weeks. Even just sitting by the shore, watching the waves breaking with their hypnotic rhythm was calming and I left the beach feeling refreshed and energised. 



© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - REDWOOD CARPET

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As I walked in the redwoods grove in the Leighton woods near Welshpool my eye was drawn to the cathedral of monumental trees. The sense of solemn awe inspired by these trees was magnified by the autumn carpet of fallen leaves, glowing in shades of gold. 
© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - NEOLITHIC ECHOES

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The Whispering Knights project is in the wood next to the Whispering Knights Dolman at the Rollright stones in Oxfordshire. The labyrinth at the heart of the project is called 'Neolithic Echoes' and is part of a project filling the word with artworks made from the brush and wood from the management of the area. I walked the labyrinth on a damp September morning with sun filtering through the trees. After visiting the stones, coming across the woodland art was a beautiful and moving experience. There is more information about the project on the website below, I would recommend a visit. https://www.whisperingknights.org/



© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - BOW OF THORN

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A beautiful November day in the Vall de Ebo. The blue of the sky was a stark contrast with the bare rock and the white stones of the dry river bed. The warm breeze rippled through the poplar trees filling the air with fluttering leaves. 


© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - NOVEMBER ROSE

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This beautiful rose was winding round a cast iron fence in the village 'Vall de Ebo' . The perfume from the late roses and the deep red bloom reminded me of the 'Lili de Marlene' rose my father planted for my mother in my childhood garden. Autumn leaves were falling from poplars along the mostly dried river bed and the midday sun was still strong on the first day of November. 


© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - TODOS LOS SANTOS

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On All Saint's Day in Spain families travel to be together and take flowers to the graves of their loved ones. It is a national holiday and was a festive day long before the tacky side of Halloween overtook the shops here. My hallowed ground is a wood in Warwickshire which is in my mind today as I remember with love those who are no longer with me. 





© 2019 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.