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Showing posts from April, 2020

A POEM A DAY - DREAMING

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While we can see a square of sky we can lose ourselves in drifting clouds and dream. 

A POEM A DAY - GORSE

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This photograph from early May last year reminds me that the hillside is greening, flowers blooming and the whiff of coconut blowing on the breeze from the yellow fuzz of gorse. The unexpected scent always makes me think of summer beach time and the pervasive smell of coconut oil in sun care products. Another week and I may be able to get out to see the countryside, if not the hills. 

A POEM A DAY - DOOR TO THE IMAGINATION

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Back today to Irish woods, to Cnoc Meadha in County Galway where nature, myth and magic combined. I love this forest walk through ancient trees, jewelled with emerald moss, lit with filtering sunlight,  residence of  Finnbheara, King of the Connacht fairies, burial place of home to Finnbheara and Queen Maeb.

A POEM A DAY - THE REAL OUTSIDE

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Our children have been managing with varying degrees of patience and frustration with 6 weeks of being shut indoors due to the Covid 19 virus controls in Spain. Yesterday they were allowed out with a parent. My grandson was able to take his bike into the campo and spent his hour pedalling in the sunshine. I spoke to him on the phone, he was so excited, telling me he was outside, not just on his pocket patio, but 'the real outside'. Our changing reality is a challenge for families and it is good to see them reacting with such responsibility and creativity. 

A POEM A DAY - THE PATH BECKONS

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Today is a big day in Spain, children are allowed outside for the first time in 6 weeks, my grandson is on his bike and the baby feeling the sunshine for his first outing since birth. I am counting down the days, the Government plan is for people to be allowed out for exercise and walks from May 2nd if all goes well this week. The strict lockdown has worked and the out of control rise in virus cases is now reducing. However we will need caution in the days and weeks ahead, things will change and we are changing already in our expectations. Today is just for rejoicing that our children have the freedom to run again. 

A POEM A DAY - WILD HONEYSUCKLE

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It has now been over six weeks since I have left my house. I am missing walking on the hills, only 1 km from my home but still inaccessible. I look out at them everyday and wonder how the spring flowers are growing after weeks of rain and intermittent sun. This is a photograph of creeping honeysuckle growing in amongst the shrubs under the pine trees. I thought honeysuckle was a garden plant and remember it growing up the brick garage wall when I was a child, bashed by our bouncing balls. I was surprised to see it growing wild. 

A POEM A DAY - FLIGHT

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I am flying away from life today, over the hills, over lakes and valleys, silvered by light. 

A POEM A DAY - SANT JORDI

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Sant Jordi is celebrated on April 23rd in Catalunya where legend states the rose grew from a drop of dragon`s blood. The tradition is for a rose to be exchanged for a book and book fairs and sales fill the centre of Barcelona and other towns and florists do a roaring trade in roses. I love the idea of a large fiesta encouraging the gift of words. The photograph is from a rose in the rose garden of St Feliu de LLobregat where this year Sant Jordi will be celebrated in homes with virtual flowers and books from the shelf. 

A POEM A DAY - CRACKLEY WOODS

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Today is Earth Day, an annual event celebrated throughout the world since 1970 to show support for environmental protection of our Earth, its habitat, flora and animals. The news, internet and areas not under lockdown are full of messages and events calling for more resources and action to be taken to protect our world. The corona virus crisis and the slowdown in economic activity and travel has reminded us how polluted our normal lifestyle is for the planet and how quickly change can be affected. Whilst we hope that lessons can be learned as the dreadful pandemic hits countries across the world, in one small wood in Warwickshire nothing has changed. Under Government instruction, taking advantage of the lockdown and lack of news coverage, HS2 contractors are continuing to fell trees and destroy ancient woodlands during the nesting season. They appear to not even be following the agreed environmental protection for soil recovery and bird and wildlife preservation and there is growing e…

A POEM A DAY - BLOWING WISHES

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This is a strange birthday. I am not one for big celebrations but 60 is 60 and I had planned to be with loved friends and my wonderful family. Today we are together only on screens and I can not share hugs and cake. Still, I am grateful. Grateful for another day, for my health, for the love I feel from those who sustain me, for all those keeping me safe, for all those working daily to keep us all safe. I look forward to celebrating with you all when we can and until then thank you for your love. 

A POEM A DAY - STONE BIRDS

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Looking back to a January day at Altea. The pebbled shore line was strung with seagulls. Unmoving and camouflaged, they faded into the grey stones until my approaching steps startled them and they rose as one, in a clapping, flapping cloud of white wings. 

A POEM A DAY - KNIGHT PROTECTOR

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This is a photograph of one my most treasured gifts. I suspect the image is of the Valencian King, Sant Jaume made in the style of Valencian ceramics,  but in my mind she is feminine, my Knight, my namesake, the protector of my home. 

A POEM A DAY - WITH THANKS

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Today was the first time since last July that I felt unable to write and post my daily photo poem. It has not been an easy day but just as I was closing tired eyes for sleep, these words came to me. Tomorrow is another day. With thanks to all our healthcare workers. 

A POEM A DAY - TIGH NEACHTAIN

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It is indeed a strange time when bars in Spain and pubs in Ireland are closed. They are the hub of the community, popular with locals and visitors. I miss my evening drink with friends in our local Cooperativa bar, or morning coffee in Siremar. This photograph is from a pub in Galway where we stopped for a Guinness and a rest from a morning's wandering the town. It was welcoming to us as strangers but also had a familiar, local atmosphere with people in for lunch and a lively chat. The food looked as good as the Guinness.  It is a popular venue for arts and music and I hope to go back one day, when Ireland and Spain's bars and pubs are buzzing with life, noise and chatter again. 
Here is a link to Tigh Neachtain for if you ever find yourself in Galway.  https://www.tighneachtain.com/


© 2020 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - BREAKING WAVES

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As I can not go out to take new photographs of the changing seasons, I am going back over a few years of photographs of the natural world around me in Spain and from last year's visit to Ireland, England and Wales. Today I have chosen to go to the sea, let the waves wash over me, their rhythm soothing, repetition slowly relaxing the tension, worries breaking on the sand. 

© 2020 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - WORLD TURNED UPSIDE DOWN

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This strange topsy turvey tree stump seemed rooted into the ground in an olive grove near my home. It now seems a good illustration of the confusing times we are living through where everything we took for granted is in question. What is certain is the land will continue to green without us, the olives will grow and ripen in time for their Autumn collection. Hopefully by then I will be able to walk among them. 



© 2020 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.


A POEM A DAY - TARA THORN

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Today I have been looking through the last year's photographs, images of the countryside around my Spanish village and from my Autumn visit to Ireland, England and Wales. This photograph leapt out at me. It was taken at the Hill of Tara in County Meath in Ireland where the boundaries of the ancient site are guarded by battered hawthorn trees, bent double by the wind. The branches of some of the hawthorn trees were covered with tied rags, rosaries and gifts in prayers to the old Gods and Goddesses. There is a real worry that the increase in such offerings can damage the trees and visitors to sacred sites in Ireland and the UK are asked to respect the trees. This hawthorn had a number of grass stalks tied to the branches, some already fallen to the ground, which seemed a much safer way to respect the tree and the magical air blowing around the Hill of Tara.  I loosely tied a blade of grass with a knot on a low branch and made my own wish, one which now I am thankful and happy to say…

A POEM A DAY - DREAM WRITING

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I am posting this odd haiku today as I am fascinated by the process by which it came into my mind. I am often awake in the night, affected by insomnia but also woken by my breathing and then kept awake by the stimulant effect of asthma medication. During these semi awake hours my mind plays with poetry, sometimes I remember the lines in the morning or more often they are lost. This morning I woke with this haiku already written, I am not aware of thinking of the subject, playing with the words, counting syllables, it arrived in my mind fully formed. I am fascinated by this process, how our brain works during sleep, what creative thought we are capable of whilst sleeping. 
Bats are common in my area, they flit around my roof terrace at dusk and around the campo in Summer. I have even had a bat fly into my house, down the stairs, around the living room and back up the stairs again where my smallest daughter shooed it out. However I don't think I need a therapist to imagine the meanin…

A POEM A DAY - EASTER

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Easter is a busy time in my village as houses fill with people coming back to their family homes. The church is full on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and at Midnight Mass and Sunday morning Resurrection Mass. The band accompanies the village on the Good Friday solemn procession and again at dawn on Sunday morning with the staging of the 'Encuentro'. I have been involved in the 'Encuentro since my eldest daughter first played in the band and more so since we moved to our home in the centre of the village. The band assembles before first light, youngsters bleary eyed from nights without sleep at their Easter camps. The streets are silent as a column of men process with the statue of a prone Jesus passing my house, whilst the village women walk behind the statue of Mary cloaked in mourning black. The two meet as the sun rises in the bakers street where a young 'Festera', her hair dressed with a black mantilla, removes the cloak to reveal Mary in her golden glory, in cele…

A POEM A DAY - SORROW IN THE WOODS

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Whilst I try to stay positive about the strange situation we are living through my calm has been broken by news from England. The HS2 rail works are going ahead despite the lock down and trees are being felled in Warwickshire woods. One of these woods is especially important to me and my family and I am both enraged and heartbroken at the loss of ancient oaks and other trees in these and other woods. The protesters who have been working for months to protect these woods have been dispersed under the emergency rules, some arrested and others still trying to drum up press coverage of the continued work whilst it seems the contractors are taking advantage of the quiet to go ahead with the controversial tree felling. I hope it is not too late for all the trees threatened by this work but for some, it is already too late. 

A POEM A DAY - UNDER GREEN LEAF

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There are days when I am overcome with an overwhelming wish to walk out my door, out of the village and into the trees. For now, I can only dream and be thankful the majority are keeping me and others safe by staying home. 
© 2020 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - THE GREENING

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These brilliant green leaves illuminated with the low afternoon sun brightened the dried fennel stalks lining the terraces. This photograph was taken a day before the Spanish lock down. I wonder after nearly four weeks how the hills and fields are greening, as Spring rains and warmth will be firing growth and painting the landscape. 



© 2020 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - MOON CHILD

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Last night's beautiful full moon brought me sweet pangs of sadness as I opened the front door to an empty street and saw the moon, hidden by cloud above the roof tops.  Month after month I have stood at the door with my grandson, pointing up at the full moon or wandered the village streets to catch sight of it around corners. He has always loved the moon, it was one of his first words as I held him him to see an August full moon rising over the hillside. He spent his early years spotting all kind of moon shapes, from crescent to full moons on pictures, packaging and clothes. To see the moon without him was a reminder of our love which only grows with the passing of each month. 


© 2020 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - SKY DANCE

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I have never been able to photograph a swallow in flight, despite trying for hours as they swoop over my roof terrace or through the narrow village streets. My brother Chris Knight took this image when he stayed in the village and the birds kept him awake from dawn each morning, flocking in the plaza from their mud spit nests under house eaves. This morning they were back again, high in the sky, chasing insects, greeting the day. 

© 2020 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - SWALLOWS RETURN

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The moon woke me this morning as it shone in my bedroom window. Looking over the roof terrace towards the mountains I watched it track over the mountain, before slipping over the horizon as dawn broke spreading light from the rising sun. My eye was caught by a sudden dart of black across the terrace. Another one became clearer, at first I thought it was a bat but the movement was swifter. As night turned into day I watched the familiar flocks of wood pigeons as they flew from the hills to the village. Then I saw them, swooping over the roof tops, darting in front of my window, flashing up into the sky. The swallows had returned. There must always be a day when the migrating birds arrive from their winter in Africa but this year I was awake and able to spot their first morning. In these difficult times when looking ahead seems impossible the return of the swallows brings me much needed hope. 
© 2020 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM OF DAY - ORANGE BLOSSOM

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This was one of the last photographs I took before being isolated at home as the Spanish government ordered the population to stay in their homes. Unlike other countries we are not allowed out for walks or exercise and with an existing health condition I have not been out of my front door for over three weeks. The orange blossom will be fading now but at its peak the exquisite, sweet perfume from the fields of orange trees wafts over the whole village. I like the idea of people isolated in their homes being united by the scent of blossom as it permeates the village in a reminder that growth, nature, life continues outside our doors. 

© 2020 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

A POEM A DAY - WANDERING CATERPILLARS

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I took this photograph in late February, just before the virus news started to shock Spain. The processionary caterpillars drop down from their nest in the pine trees and start to march. They are well camouflaged on the gravel paths and we nearly stepped over three different columns. They are extremely dangerous to humans and animals. A touch of their hair can cause blisters on the skin or affect the breathing if inhaled. I watched them move, nose to tail and wondered if they knew where they were going, at what point would they separate and start eating before continuing their life cycle. This year that process is happening unseen as people are kept indoors.

A POEM A DAY - PROMISE

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This winter I planted a number of acorns I picked up in the woods where they littered the ground around the holm oak trees. I followed instructions and put them in a moist bag in the fridge for a few weeks, then with my grandsons help, planted them in the long pot where my mint grows. Months past and we were delighted to see tiny oak plants spouting, with the familiar spiked holly leaves of the holm oak. Some weeks later I decided to transplant them to their own pots and was amazed to find that the inch high oak had a root at least 10 times as long, wrapping around the planter. I worried that moving such a long root would damage the plant but so far they are still alive and hopefully getting used to their new pots. 
In the wild where the earth is often baked hard and dry, it takes rain and the passing of an animal to squelch an acorn into the soil. Baby oaks grow very slowly, shadowed out by the faster growing, invasive pine. I hope one day to take my little oak plants and find a good …

A POEM A DAY - DEW OF THE SEA

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Rosemary grows wild in this area of the Mediterranean. The latin name means 'rocio del mar', or dew of the sea and when it is sprinkled with blue flowers, it takes on the colour of the Mediterrean sea.  It is not a small patio herb but grows as large, woody bushes that cover the hills, complementing pine and holm oak. The herb is thrown on barbecues or on the flames beneath a paella pan and its aromatic scent reminds me of the woods. Dried rosemary is a protective herb and is said to be kept by the front door or under the bed to keep you safe in your sleep.  

A POEM A DAY - STILLNESS

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I have used a similar image of the Riu Bullent running through the Marjal near Pego for another poem, however on seeing it again different words came to me. During this crisis between the new routine of another day in this strange, isolated life and the trembling fear of ill health I am fortunate at times to find moments of stillness. The peace of being lost in writing, rediscovering music, reading poetry, listening to Shakespeare's sonnets, looking out over the hills when the clouds lift all bring me calm. I hope you can find a place of peace where for a time our minds can rest.