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Showing posts from 2020

A POEM A DAY - FLYING FREE

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I started this 'A POEM A DAY' project on July 4th 2019 with the intention of continuing until the November anniversary of this blog. Somehow I continued, through ill health, busy days, quiet times and lockdown. Writing three simple lines each day became part of my routine, bringing unexpected benefits. I doubt that many more people read my longer poems on this blog but I was touched by the number of people who expressed their pleasure in reading them. It also helped motivate me to get out into nature, to look more carefully at my environment, to slow down and enjoy the smallest petal or insect, the movement of clouds, the patterns in waves and sand. 
I feel it is time to move on before I run out of inspiration and try something new. I intend to finish the memoir of an intense period of my life in Spain when our village worked together to protect our environment. With trees still be destroyed all over the world in the name of progress and with my appreciation of the role of our …

A POEM A DAY - DANCING LIGHT

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In a few more days these threads of delicate light will be floating free over the countryside, seeding a new beginning for the thistle. 

A POEM A DAY - TANGLE

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The first month of our Spring lockdown passed in a mist of cloud and gentle rain. Day after day we looked out over a mountain shrouded in grey and wondered when the sun would ever shine again. At the time it had the useful effect of making staying indoors less arduous whilst the longing for sunshine grew day by day. Now I am thankful for that rain, the campo and countryside is still green as July ticks by, a time when normally everything is looking parched and brown. The hills are still dotted by myriad colours as flowers survive the summer heat. 

A POEM A DAY - STAR DANCER

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On my wall I have a print of a Cambodian dancer by Rodin. This constellation of scattered flowers reminds me of the energy of a Rodin dancer lighting up the dry, stony land. 

A POEM A DAY - WILD CARROT

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This striking plant covers the hills and fields here in July, the flowers slowly drying and folding inwards to form a husked cage. Today I watched a flitting bird land on the flower which whipped back and forth like a circus act as it flew off me reminding me of spinning plates on spindly sticks. 

A POEM A DAY - PEACE

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The beauty of a quiet evening by the sea, night falling as a rosy glow spreads across the sky bringing a moment of tranquility. 

A POEM A DAY - OLIVE ROOTS

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This is a good example of the slow degrading of the terraces in this area. If the dry stone walls are not maintained the action of wind, rain and roaming jabali break down the walls, letting the earth wash away, in this case exposing the roots of the olive tree. What is amazing is the length of these roots, spreading farther than the height of the tree itself in search of water. The hillsides are covered with abandoned terraces, stone walls still standing in many places but the trees olive trees grown wild, the terraces filled in with slow growing holm oak overshadowed by the faster growing pine. 

A POEM A DAY - CONSTELLATIONS

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These beautiful pink flowers appear in small clusters scattered over the banks and paths through the wooded areas on our hillsides. Their vibrant colour lights up the dull earth and fallen pine needles as if they have been scattered like seeds sown from a farmer's apron. 

A POEM A DAY - COOL WATER

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This little spring is known as the 'Font de Pascualet' and is just off the road winding up to the Penya Blanca near Benichembla. The water trickles out from a crack in the rock to gather in a small stone pool, still decorated with verdant green despite the July heat. 

A POEM A DAY - FAIRY WIND

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Coming into July the Summer heat has finally arrived after a pleasant June. For the first few days of intense heat and humidity we are all flaking, low blood pressure dropping lower, water, coffee, salt and wine the medicine. Last night the humidity reached 100%, it felt like breathing soup. I came downstairs to the patio to slightly cooler air, sat with my early morning tea and was instantly refreshed when a wind rose from nowhere, tinkling my Dad's chimes as they did in our Warwickshire garden where the fae always found a home.  Here is my terracotta wind Goddess, blowing over my patio. 

A POEM A DAY - FISHING

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As dusk fell over the sea the fisherman waded into the waves, throwing their nets by hand over the water. I didn't see the catch, leaving the beach before darkness. 

A POEM A DAY - DAPPLING

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It rained for weeks this Spring during the early lockdown,  gentle, good rain, not the torrential downpours which strip the land and damage the roads. It has resulted in a glorious greening of the campo, grass is growing under trees, shrubs and herbs are verdant and glowing. The heat has suddenly struck and within days we will see the grass wilting and browning but for a little while longer the campo is a verdant and beautiful as I have ever seen it. 

A POEM A DAY - BEACH SUNSET

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A wonderful evening with all our family together at the beach. Once six, we are now twelve.  It felt very safe, everyone was carefully distanced, walkers apart, fisherman in the sea. Families enjoying the cooling evening, swimming, eating picnic cenas, children splashing in the waves. We are fortunate to live near to both mountains and sea, able to enjoy the refreshing beauty of nature. 

A POEM A DAY - THE MADONNA

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We came across this Madonna in a small cave off the side of a country road near Uña in the province of Cuenca. The cave was easy to miss, small steps led up the hillside, marked by a discreet, wooden side. Inside the grotto was adorned with rosaries and statuettes and the Madonna herself draped in rosaries. There was a feeling of serene peace in a place where the faithful of years had deposited their prayers and thanks. 

A POEM A DAY - REFLECTIONS

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Stopping for a picnic on the road from Loughcrew to Galway, mesmerised by the slow drifting of clouds. 

A POEM A DAY - PATH OF DREAMS

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Forest bathing is now prescribed as a treatment for stress and anxiety and general good health. I find walking a path through trees has a meditative quality that brings me peace. Problems are paced out step by step and calm restored. 

A POEM A DAY - DREAMTIME

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I was enchanted by this beautiful field of wild chamomile. It has been a good year this year with the golden plants thriving, their scent filling the air. 

A POEM A DAY - UNDER THE OAK

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I reminded today of my lovely Dad and his fairy stories, told to me when I was a child and repeated to his grandchildren. I miss him today and everyday and the garden where he and my mother created a wildlife haven and where we sat together with the birds and the fae. 

A POEM A DAY - ENTICING

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The colours of mountain flowers this year seem more vibrant than ever. Maybe it is the result of being locked away for two months and coming back into a natural world livened by spring rains, lack of contamination and peace. I am sure the bees and wildlife have enjoyed this quiet time. 

A POEM A DAY - DRY WALL

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Here is another example of the tenacity of nature. This plant clings to a dry stone wall with no earth to root in and no visible source of water. Not only does it survive but seems to thrive, flushing the sandstone pink. 

A POEM A DAY - MILLIPEDE

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One of the pleasures of this year long daily photo poem project has been learning to really look when I am out in nature. I used to enjoy walking when I was able and always loved being out in woods, by the sea, on country lanes, but I didn't appreciate the detailed beauty of what was around me. Now I spot tiny insects, lichen on rocks, flowers, petals, the bark on the trees, the movement of clouds and waves.  

A POEM A DAY - SOLSTICE EVE

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This year the Summer Solstice falls on the 20th June, today is the longest day before our hours of sunlight slowly reduce. This is a view of the Penyal D'Ifach in Calp, also known as the Peñon. Night falls quickly in Spain, this was taken at dusk as the sun left the sky. I the previous half hour the sky was alive with swooping swifts, flying at great speed towards the cliffs, skimming the rocks before entering their roosts in the crumbling cracks.  

POEM A DAY - FELICIDADES

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Congratulations to my son, with love and pride for his achievements and best wishes for his future. 

A POEM A DAY - RAIN DROPS

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Our pocket patio is looking at its best in mid June. The geraniums are blooming all shades from crimson to pink, the green is yet to fade in the heat of Summer and the flowering herbs are attracting the bees. This photo was taken after a sudden downpour of rain washed the plants clean. 

A POEM A DAY - SAINT BRIGID

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This statue of Saint Brigid stands in the middle of a circular garden to the side of the Holy Well at Liscannor in County Clare, Ireland. It is a beautiful place, at the foot of a peaceful graveyard, looking out towards the Atlantic Ocean. Both the garden and the shrine of the Holy Well are a place of pilgrimage for people looking for the intercession of Saint Brigid, with a collective memory of the pagan Goddess who shared her name.  We were there alone in the afternoon sunshine and felt the ripple of the generations of prayer and hope gathered in the humble offerings and natural beauty. 

A POEM A DAY - SEA HEALING

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Standing in the waves at the water's edge, lulled by the ebb and flow, the slow trickle as worries wash away into the salt sea. 

A POEM A DAY - SWALLOWS

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The swallow population is at its peak now with the fledglings all now gaining strength and joining their flock. At dusk and zone our house seems to be at the centre of a vortex of birds as they fly over the roof, skimming the terrace, whizzing past the front windows. There is a flock of maybe 50 or more birds and they swoop in formations of up to 10, missing windows and walls by mere inches. It is an incredible sight with the added benefit of clearing up the mosquitos before they bite! I have spent hours trying to capture them in a photograph, arms up until it makes me dizzy but the birds are too fast. I am left with a trace of their amazing flight as I gasp at the speed and agility. 

A POEM A DAY - DRAGON

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This is the discarded root from the tree chopped into logs on the hillside. It was one that was leaning dangerously from the crumbling bank and I guess it was no longer safe for people using the track but it still hurt to see the roots discarded. 

A POEM A DAY - HALF MOON

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How wonderful to see the sea today as the wind whipped up the waves, the sun sparkled and the white half moon hung in the sky above the waving palm trees.

A POEM A DAY - WHIMSY

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Today I was reminded by a poetry prompt of fairy stories with my Dad when I was a tiny child. He continued to tell us fairy adventures based in our garden or the countryside all through my childhood and with my own children. Now I still see the fairy hand in a breeze of dandelion clocks, autumn toadstools rings, mossy tree stumps and wooded areas that have that special feel. 

A POEM A DAY - FLUTTER

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This seed head stood high above the low shrubs, waving in the breeze, the seeds looking like the yellow butterflies fluttering around the campo. 

A POEM A DAY - ANT LIFE

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In the few minutes I watched this hole in an earthen bank a long trail of ants scrambled in, all moving around the larger insect in the entrance. I was left imagining the whole community of perhaps thousands of ants organising their colony, fetching food, rearing young, living a complete ant life that we are mostly totally unaware of. 

A POEM A DAY - FOX GLOVES

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On an uninspired, tired day I was delighted to receive this lovely photograph of a foxglove flower from my brother Chris Knight on his visit to Kinver woods near Stourbridge in England. The foxglove was one of my favourite flowers when I was a child and I was told many tales about the plant, reflecting its rich history in myth and medicine. The bell like flowers could be slippers for the wily fox to soften his pad in the hen house, or they were homes to tiny flying fairies, hiding from view. They would make a perfect purple hat for a pixie or a silken bed for fairy babies.  The plant itself is seen to sway on its tall, leggy stems even when there is no breeze and another myth suggests it is bowing in respect to the passing Fae. 

I was not allowed to touch the plant, only look as it would upset the fairies. A little older and not such a believer in fairies I learned  that it is highly poisonous, causing stomach upsets and even dangerous heart effects if any part of the plant is ingested…

A POEM A DAY - CHAINSAW

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Sometimes trees need to be felled, they may be diseased or growing in a way that can cause danger. This tree was on a loose bank by a country track used to access agricultural terraces and subsidence on the banks was loosening the tree roots. However many trees are felled which could be saved, such as the hundreds lost in Cities, a practice which is now being challenged or in hedgerows which need not be removed. Currently hundreds of precious trees are being felled in ancient woodlands for the HS2 rail project, even before this project has fully passed all legal hurdles. Once gone they are lost. 

A POEM A DAY - LA PENYA BLANCA

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This magnificent outcrop of rock tops the hills near the village of Benigembla, a short drive from my home. I took the photograph from the hills on the other side of valley, the road winding up both sides of the valley. The slopes below are covered in pine, the afternoon was a perfect combination of warm sun and cool breeze, the dirt track reminding me of walking on trails cut through the woods for power lines in British Columbia many years ago. 

A POEM A DAY - MANZANILLA

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Chamomile grows freely on the hills in this region of Spain, some large clumps growing as big as an armchair. Locals have always picked stems of the flower to boil and drink both for all kinds of digestive problems but also as an aid to sleep. I drink 'manzanilla' for both issues. Along with mint tea, known as menta here, it is a popular choice after a meal, especially if it is too late for a dose of caffeine. Many people will not drink coffee in the evening as it keeps them awake. If I wake in the night and insomnia strikes, after an hour or so of tossing and turning I will make a manzanilla and soon drop back to sleep.  

A POEM A DAY - REFLECTION

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Walking in nature gives me time and space to reflect on life in these turbulent times. We need to build a better world, where equality, justice and respect is the normal way for society to function. We need to learn from the Covid 19 crisis to ensure public health care provision is there for all and is supported by government. We need to act now to protect the planet with robust policies and enactment. All this needs good government and decision making so the first step is to hold our politicians to account, make sure voting rights are enshrined in law and that every person actually votes for the very best people to take the decisions needed for all our futures. 

A POEM A DAY - MAN IN THE MOON

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Today our family remember Jake who we lost 13 years ago. It is hard to believe so many years have passed and a testament to love and survival that we have learned to live without him. In his short life he touched all who knew him and he will live on with us forever. I posted this poem in his memory last year. 


THE MAN IN THE MOON
Sometimes I see  a youth in the street who reminds me of him, fresh face smiling, base ball capped, arms swinging with spirit, full of life, until I remember our lad is stranded in time, the years have not aged him, worries have not tired him, love and children have not graced him; I might not even recognise the man he would become. He lives forever in my mind, the laughing toddler, the skate boarding teen, the man in the moon, the loving boy  we lost too soon.

A POEM A DAY - TENACITY

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Here is an amazing example of nature's incredible capacity for propagating life. It always cheers me to see tiny weeds breaking through concrete, trees hanging on to sheer cliff faces battered by winds.  Here these tiny succulents are colonising bare rock, with only a sprinkling of pine needles softening the hard stone. They looked like a minature grove of trees, their bright green leaves drawing the eye. 

A POEM A DAY - JUSTICE

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I found it impossible today not to reflect the anger and sadness felt throughout the world at the brutal injustice being suffered by so many. I stand with all those protesting to bring about a world where equality is the basis of society, where our leaders make decisions based on compassion and the overriding interest of the good of all and the voice of the oppressed is heard and acted upon. I hold the light of hope that change will come.

A POEM A DAY - HIDDEN GLORY

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This butterfly flitted around me on the hillside path but refused to sit still with its beautiful wings open. I am interested in the contrast between its closed wings, when it was almost perfectly camouflaged and its open winged display. At rest on the path it was hard to spot, thus hard to catch for a predator, whilst its bright red and gold flecked wings are designed to attract a mate.  

A POEM A DAY - CONFETTI

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I sometimes stop and really look at the nature around me, more often I take it for granted. When you actually look it is hard to believe the variety of flora and insect life visible in even a small area of landscape. On the hillsides overlooking the village spring flowers are still blooming after an unusual few months of frequent and gentle rain. It would be hard for an artist to imagine and paint the colours covering the land. 

A POEM A DAY - TOWARDS THE SEA

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This is the view this morning from the hillsides of El Carrascal, over the Vall de Pop towards the Mediterranean. It was a beautiful morning, full of birdsong, gentle sun before the heat built, wild flowers marking the path in shades of gold, purple blues and pinks. An exhilarating walk.

A POEM A DAY - TREE GREENS

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I was struck the other day by the wonderful palette of greens in the small patch of land by the spring at La Rompuda. In one small area there were pines, holm oak shrubs, abandoned olives, bright cherry, a fig tree and a camp corner where green reeds towered over my head like a cane jungle. 

A POEM A DAY - HADAS

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Herbal infusions are popular in Spain, many different kinds are sold in supermarkets and locals still make their own with herbs picked from the countryside. In my local area rosemary, thyme, chamomile and fennel grow wild. Thyme is recommended as an antiseptic and for use with coughs, colds and respiratory infections. It is also said to have a calming effect, bringing serenity and strength. Folklore calls thyme tea 'infusion de las hadas', as it said if you drink this and sleep on a fairy hill or in a fairy wood you will meet with the fairies and goblins or speak to them in your dreams. 

A POEM A DAY - LA ROMPUDA

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The spring of fresh water bursting out of the hillside at 'La Rompuda' has been a source of drinking water for the nearby village for centuries. During long, dry summers it has been known to slow to a trickle but I can not remember a year where it dried up completely. There are a number of Springs on 'El Carrascal' and people come from miles around to fill their car boots with water. 

A POEM A DAY - BEASTIE

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This beetle was scurrying so quickly to get into the shade that I was not able to get a well focused photograph. He looked like a tiny dinosaur, a relic from the past. I watched as the creature disappeared in the undergrowth. 

A POEM A DAY - MAGENTA

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I have been fascinated today reading about the colour magenta. We recognise this shade of pinky purple in nature, mainly in the beauty of numerous flowers but officially there is no such colour. Magenta can not be seen on the visible spectrum of light as it does not actually exist, only as a combination of equal amounts of blue and red light. I admit to finding this concept difficult as I can see it does exist so if you are interested I advise you to read more and meanwhile enjoy the amazing beauty we find in nature.

A POEM A DAY - CAT'S EYES

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This feral cat was so wary of people it was hard to catch her in a photograph. This one shows her defending her territory as we walked on and left her in peace. 

A POEM A DAY - ENCHANTED

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I came across this hidden, little patch of flowered green close to the dried river bed near my home. It looked like a perfect rock garden as if the succulents, grass, herbs and flowers had been planted around the rocks by an unseen hand.