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Showing posts from March, 2020

A POEM A DAY - WADERS

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I took this photograph in February at the Marjal near Pego. The rice paddies were flooded and birds dotted the waters in a feeding frenzy. I imagine the rice growing will go ahead as it as an essential food resource however the walkers, dog walkers, bird watchers and nature lovers will not be there to see the weekly change in the habitat as the wild flowers cover the canal banks and the rice plants start to green the paddies.            



© 2020 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.



A POEM A DAY - SEEKING LIGHT

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This Echeveria plant was found rather forlorn and forgotten on an upstairs balcony whose swollen doors had stayed shut for some months. The plant is a survivor, able to withstand long periods of drought or neglect. It is now being cared for on the patio where its snaking stems headed with flowerlets show how the plant grew through the iron balcony bars towards the sunlight. © 2020 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved. 

A POEM A DAY - PATCH OF SKY

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The sun is out today and I am sitting on my small patio with a cup of tea. Looking skywards past the tall walls a passing cloud is framed by the fiesta flags still hanging since my son held a party on the patio at the end of last summer. It is a reminder of those carefree days and a hope of fiesta time to come. 

A POEM A DAY - PINK TRUMPETS

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I am missing my walks on the hills, thankful I can still see the trees from my roof terrace window. When the sun shines after the recent rains the flowers will burst out and I remember last year how each week the colour of the different flowers would change. One day I counted 8 different yellow, gold flowers, another week the trail would be covered in blue or pink flowers. This is a photograph from this time last year, I can only imagine these beautiful flowers covering the woods. 


© 2020 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.



A POEM A DAY - MOTHER OAK

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This is one of my favourite trees,  a short walk from my home,  in the fields outside the village. It is one of the largest holm oaks in the area, they grow very slowly and many stay stunted as shrubs where they are shaded by the faster growing pine. This tree is native to our area, the hills overlooking the village are part of the 'Sierra Carrascal', named after the 'carrasca' , the holm oak tree. I hope I will soon be able to sit again under these branches, looking at blue sky through the leaves, playing with acorns and fallen leaves on the earthen floor. 
© 2020 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - DIAMOND DROPS

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As I can not get out into nature to take my normal photographs I am having to look closer to home. Today the sun broke through after 11 days of cloud hiding the hills and dropping much needed rain on the campo. We all went outside to the patio to see some welcome blue sky and I spotted the light shining on the Echeveria plant. The raindrops nestling in the leaves shone like diamonds, the succulent still showing marks from the hail which fell a few weeks ago. This plant is a survivor, it can withstand long periods without water, it reproduces and grows rapidly as leaves fall and are replaced. They are a common balcony plant in the village where they hang down through the iron bars from curly, gnarled stems. 

© 2020 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - TOWARDS THE HORIZON

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Today I woke to a tenth day of isolation and low cloud shrouding the village. The unusually long spell of rain and cloud is now feeling oppressive. It is one of the factors that always aggravates my breathing but now I am questioning any normal tightening of my lungs, every wheeze and cough. It took sometime to feel motivated to write a poem for today until I found this photograph of the estuary and bay at Aberdovey. I walked on these sands a few days after the death of my father, the wind blew away my tears and the sun glinting silver on the horizon lightened my soul. It remains a special place, where I can go to in my mind for a little calming peace, where I am also reminded of the healing company of the best of friends. 
© 2020 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - GENERATIONS

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It feels like a long time since I was in the campo taking this photograph. In reality I have often spent weeks at home due to ill health but the idea I can not go out makes this time seem different to my general winter self isolation. 
The hills around the village are striped with terraces, many now abandoned with ancient olive and carob trees wilding amongst pine and holm oak. Others are still worked, cars now replacing the donkeys and men climbing the steep paths on foot to their land. These walls were raised by hand from the stones picked from this rough land to make the terrace strips capable of growing essential crops. Olive oil is still made in our area from the olives grown in the valley and its hillsides. 
I find the continuity of this way of life reassuring. This land has lived through war, drought, hunger, enforced exodus and poverty but the oil, honey, wine and crops grown here have nurtured life, flavoured food, cured ills as families found love and fun together despite hard…

A POEM A DAY - KIDS

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On my last walk before being stuck indoors 10 days ago I came across an enclosure of goats and kids on a terrace in the 'campo'. They had grazed the ground inside bare and it must have been close to feeding time as they all scampered to the fence to see us, clattering up the wire, poking their heads out as far as possible. The kids were able to get there head and neck out enough to graze the remaining green shoots outside the fence. Some years ago herds of goats and sheep were more commonplace in the countryside, shepherded from field to field and goats milk and cheese was made locally.  I was surprised to see a herd a few weeks ago, spreading out under olive and almond trees, eating the shrubby new growth. 

© 2020 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - ETERNAL LOVE

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Today is Mothering Sunday in the UK. My wonderful mother never liked 'special' days, she would prefer a flower on any old Sunday or a kiss and a hug when we felt like giving one. In her later years she was garlanded with flowers, my Dad bringing in daily roses and blossom from the garden, my brother rarely calling without an orchid or a perfumed bunch of colour. I remember her with love every single day, she lives with me forever. I know she would be so proud and full of love for her children and grandchildren and full of joy as I am to see her grandaughters become mothers to their own as our family grows.
© 2020 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - JOY OF LIFE

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In troubled tears where it is easy to become overwhelmed with fear or suffer the strains of change and isolation, I am reminded that the light always returns. Today I am celebrating the birth of my two grandchildren and giving thanks for my family who bring me joy and support me always. 


© 2020 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - PATH TO NATURE

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This is where I love to walk, a path through the trees on the hillside near my village. When restrictions were first placed on our movement I imagined we would still be able to go out for a walk and not being able to is difficult to deal with. I do understand that what seems safe for us in a country village would not be so in the towns and cities and if families living in blocks of flats are not allowed to walk in the park we also have to suffer this restriction. I am fortunate.  I can still see the trees from my roof terrace and bedroom window and can walk there in my mind. Meanwhile, the path will return to nature, left only to the wild animals. 


© 2020 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - PRAYERS AND INCANTATIONS

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A week has passed since I have been out the door, a week since I have seen my family, held my newborn grandson, played with his brother. The sadness of isolation is tempered by the knowledge we are keeping each other safe. 
As I write this the sound of Parcent band members is echoing over the village as they play together with Valencian musicians all over the Communitat in honour of San Jose. It is a fiesta here today, the celebration of fallas, a day when families get together. Today we do what we can to keep cheerful. 
We also do what we can to protect our loved ones. As in times gone by when people suffered without hospitals, medicines and modern care we add a prayer and a wish to our daily routines, appealing to our Gods and Goddesses or just the healing power of love and nature. If it doesn't help it can not harm and at least we feel like we are involved and somehow less powerless.
In my house we light candles, in memory of my parents who lit candles for us, to concentrate our l…

A POEM A DAY - FRAGILE STRENGTH

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This fragile, empty bird shell struck me as both an example of strength and continuity. Whole, it nurtured life as the bird grew and left its shell. Then it became a source of nutrients for scavenging ants feeding off the remains. As we worry about our own fragility nature reminds us life survives and continues, new life born from the most delicate of habitats. 
© 2020 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - UNOBSERVED

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Today the mountain is shrouded with cloud as a week of rain descends on the valley. It heightens the feeling of confinement which even after a few days is starting to affect those used to their freedom. We are already thinking of how in the weeks ahead we will need to develop resilience and help each other through the emotional roller coaster of fear, isolation and boredom. The rain is gentle, unlike the torrential Spring rains that can torment this land, striping the hills, damaging rural roads and leaking into village houses. I am reminded that this is good rain, good for the trees, the plants, the land, the creatures. While I remain inside, the trees and flowers are drinking, leaves greening, blooming for the bees and the butterflies to feed and pollinate. 


© 2020 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - PINE BALLERINAS

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Second day of isolation at home and I am looking out over my roof terrace to the mountains. It is a chill, grey day, clouds hanging over the hills. I have the windows open to let fresh air flow through the house. The air is full of birdsong, I can hear a chain saw but no cars. My son is practising his saxophone, I can not remember the last time he picked up his instrument but he has already thought of things to fill his time. It feels strange, like our little corner of the world is suspended from normal life. We are thinking of what we eat, making sure we do not waste any food, planning ahead. 
I like many have complained about the negative impact of social media but in this situation it is an amazing tool. As long as I do not obsess on the news but use it for connecting with my children and grandchildren, sharing a virtual cup of tea, keeping up with my friends, sharing poetry and uplifting posts of flowers and trees. I am enjoying you tube videos of story telling and seeing the best …

A POEM A DAY - ORANGE BLOSSOM

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Day 1 of our imposed isolation in Spain, although in reality we have been self isolating and manically bleaching now for over a week. I am one of the at risk groups and have been aware since cases in Italy started to rise of the risks to my own health and my families. It was a strange feeling yesterday, empty streets, bars shut, supermarkets rammed with desperate shoppers who had left it late to shop. In the afternoon I arrived back from my last country walk to hear the Town Hall giving instructions by 'bando' the megaphone Town Crier system still used in our village. The reality of the situation and my gratitude to our new young Councillors bearing such a sombre responsibility struck me and I stood to listen with tears in my eyes. 
The isolation is already strange, we are either laughing or crying, panicking or maintaining a strange calm. I am trying to keep calm, worry does not help and I need to support my children and their families. My grandson can not understand why nana …

A POEM A DAY - STARLIGHT

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I am posting a poem today as this is what I do every day and I am trying to keep up a semblance of normality. Wishing you all well. 

A POEM A DAY - BREATHE WITH THE TREES

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The corona virus is becoming a worrying challenge for many of us. Even the young and strong face the fear of infecting their more vulnerable family and friends while anyone with a health condition, pregnant or over an age where we are now labelled 'elderly' have real fears for our own and others safety. This fear can become overwhelming adding stress and the effect of the bodies chemical response racing through our minds and bodies. I am hoping today to get out into nature, I am lucky the woods are only 5 minutes away and visible from my third floor window. When I can not walk far or need to stay indoors I can always close my eyes and in seconds be there, with the breeze whispering through the branches, birds singing their presence, the sun warming my face as my fears melt and the tightness aching my body starts to ease. 
I wish everyone peace and good health. That we find the strength to support each other, stay as safe as possible and face our fears and reality with calming g…

A POEM A DAY - INSPIRATION

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The influence of nature on architecture is evident throughout Barcelona with the work of Antoni Gaudi. The inspiration of the natural world on his buildings is expressed in its most beautiful form at the Sagrada Familia where the flooding light through stained glass makes the Cathedral Space feel like being immersed in nature. 
This simple bridge in the Parc de Torreblanca en Sant Just was a pleasing surprise. Banked by trees, I imagined the bridge to be made of wood. It was actually a concrete construction which blended perfectly with the trees, both reflecting in the water below. 

© 2020 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - CHALK PAVEMENTS

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This flowering bush brightened a scrubby bank overlooking a pavement where fallen petals mixed with the scattered remnants of a recent car accident. I love the way nature softens the urban environment, how weeds and flowers sneak through pavements and trees bring green and shade to our streets. I am dismayed by constant reports of the cutting down of city trees and struggle to see the justification for many of the tree felling. It is good to see so many people protesting and working hard to save our vital city green environments. 



© 2020 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - NANA'S SYRUP

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These rose hips drying on the thorny branches in the rose garden in St Feliu de Llobregat reminded me of the sweet, fruity syrup we were fed as children. Rose hip syrup was one of the three bottles in my nana's pantry. First we had a disgusting spoon of cod liver oil, washed down by sticky, dark malt and sweetened with the fruity, red, rose hip syrup. I found out a few years ago that as well as being a rich source of vitamin C, rose hips also have anti inflammatory properties that are recommended for arthritis. 

© 2020 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - DUCK RHYMES

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As my mind is on the arrival of two grandchildren I am reminded of my own childrens' childhoods. They always loved watching the ducks, at ponds in parks, on the river or in the garden of our neighbour in the village. It won't be long before my daughters will be walking their own children around the park to see the ducks.



© 2020 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - HUELGA

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Today is International Women's Day and I am reposting a poem I wrote in 2018 when women all over Spain withdrew their labour in support of our rights. In the village we showed our support for the day of action by tying aprons to our balconies. Sadly there remains much to be done in the fight for equality and we need to remember everyday that women across the world still suffer discrimination in the home, at work, with pay and in society. Today we also honour all those who have given their time and energy to campaign for our rights.

A POEM A DAY - BLESSED

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On difficult days, when worries are halved or at the best of times, when joy is multiplied,  I am blessed with my friends. My greatest fear when leaving my home over 30 years ago was losing my friends. Not only have they stayed there for me, as certain as the rising sun, but along the way I have made many more who enrich my life. I am grateful for you all. 



© 2020 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - 'ROSES DEL LLOBREGAT'

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The town of St Feliu de Llobregat is known for its roses. It holds a rose festival every year in May and this lovely flower was still blooming in February in the Rose Garden. This garden was planted in 1999 in honour of the local rose growing families 'Dot' and 'Camprubi'. There are over 20,000 roses with 40 varieties in the garden.  The towns people become known as 'Roses del Llobregat' during the civil war when towns with religious names were renamed. 






© 2020 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - ELECTRIFIED

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These grass seeds reminded me of the childhood game of rubbing a balloon on your clothes and touching your head to see your hair rising with the static electricity. It made me think of the power of nature, the sun, our source evident all around us. 




© 2020 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - CASTLE OF INDUSTRY

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In the haze of late afternoon this abandoned cement works on the hills above St Feliu de Llobregat looked like one of the many castle ruins topping hills in the Comunidad Valenciana. I like the idea of how our industrial buildings are monuments to our past in the same way the stone fortresses tell the history of previous cultures and populations. 

© 2020 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - WILD WIND

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Another windy night in the village as the tail of Storm Jorge whips along the Levante coast. Sleepless nights are a small price as boardings are blown down, trees uprooted and people hurt by falling walls and city damage. More wind is forecast today after which the storm should blow out, until the next weather event. 



© 2020 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - TRANQUIL WATER

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When so many people need some calm in their lives there is nothing better than finding peace in nature. 
© 2020 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - CAST IN IRON

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This manhole cover was one of a number topping hidden water pipes in the campo near the river bed. Each cast iron cover had different patterns, part of a rich history of decoration visible on municipal iron elements around the village. This one reminded me of people at prayer. In a region blighted by drought and flood it is as well to pray to the water Gods. 

© 2020 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.