Life is great!

This a lot of life - where did it come from?
I sometimes find it instructive to look at an area and think what it would like without the living things. In short it would look similar to the dead, rocky surface of the moon.

Life has bestowed upon this, would be, barren surface a green cloak of living organisms. The breathing, growing, reproducing, eating, feeding, singing, scurrying, flying, flowering, beautiful exuberance – that is nature...

…and it all originates in space. Green plants trap the sun’s energy by photosynthesis allowing living things to rearrange atoms on the earth into living structures. These atoms ultimately originated in “The Belly of a Star” - almost every element on Earth was formed at the heart of a star.

I put a video explaining this process in a previous post Wren Song an Echo of the big bang

How were these numbers arrived at?

I know the numbers of birds on the patch more accurately than any other group as I’ve counted them! So I can say with a reasonable…

Parallax : Mindfulness

I think that to be mindful when walking, especially in nature - is a good thing to be.

That's to say, quietening the chattering brain - so often the source of anguish - baseless worries about the future, mental to-to's, fretting about a past that can't be changed. And instead being fully engaged in the present - fully experiencing everything the senses have to offer.

It can, however be frustratingly difficult to quell the nagging and needy "think me!" of thoughts.

I've found that a very good thing to focus on is the parallax effect - at least as a gateway to mindfulness. For me it can almost be like a switch - as soon as I key into it - I arrive - in the moment.

Everyone will be familiar with it. You see it on a car or train journey - the way the foreground seems to come towards you then whizz by, the middle distance seems to be stationary while things in the distance - hills, clouds move along with you. It can be like the whole scene is on a huge rotating disc.


The News

the news broke around six o'clock
robins heard it first plucked colours from their breasts
then sang it to the dark that coloured the tiny parts exposed
by dawn's needle
etching clouds chinese whispered the light
held on to it for a while
then passed it on leaking ochre rumours
bleeding into flame the hills heard the word lifted the veil
but slowly sun burst the horizon
flooded a piece of it fireworked the fields
crackerjacked through trees fireflied the mist
even glow wormed webs the news broke around six o'clock
everyone knew by seven


You scan the horizon, your view an expanse of hill, field and sky, then you focus in on a detail, maybe a bird or a tree. Does your perceptual world contract to a shrunken fragment?  No, it stays the same size or maybe even expands.  As your attention homes in, so there is a mental blossoming – what was coarse-grained becomes finescale.  Uniform  Mondrian blocks show their true nature as a filigree of delicate tracery.

Like a baby in a pram, whose universe consists of its mother and perhaps some toys, it seems limited,  but this is the canvas upon which the everything plays out – all the sights smells and sounds to feed the baby’s developing brain.

And this is what I’ve found when I’ve concentrated on a ‘patch' - my mind is focussed  - I've gone microcosmic!

My first incarnation as a patch watcher was enforced.  A decade long stretch of chairbound  illness largely confined me to a living room.  My patch was the view through the window.  I had swapped the people, job, relations…

Haiku of the patch

I've created four haikus of the patch - one for each season.

Although I've adhered to the structure of  5-7-5 syllables, I'm not entirely sure they'd pass muster for the strict haiku purist.

Typically a haiku is an observation involving a fleeting moment in nature. These certainly concern nature, but are more attempts to evoke something about a detail - as depicted in the photo - than just the one moment.

Maybe I should  describe them as short poems with the structure of a haiku.

My favourite kind of nature photo are those that home into to a small detail. I think there's a certain 'haiku-ness' to this kind of photo.

After completing these it occurred to me that there are some pleasing parallels between a haiku and this blog itself.

The haiku writer is limited by structure of the poem. Similarly,  in concentrating on a small area of countryside - the patch  - the mind is concentrated in the same way.

This is the video I made earlier in the year - taking a …

Everyday magic

Gleaming lances of shivelight pierce the canopy - dawn’s first rays threading their way through the outstretched arms of a lone ash tree. Just before starlight meets the ground it illuminates a patch of morning mist. Solar spotlights pick out an ever changing fragment of the new day with a shimmering band - shot through with essence of firefly.
This is a scene I’ve witnessed on many occasions during my morning visits to my patch. It’s an entirely accessible slice of every day magic.
So can we find - awe in the ordinary - wonder in the workaday?
My answer would be a resounding yes! If you don't see it look closer, or from another angle...or with a different mindset. You can look at something with a jaded ‘seen it all before attitude’ or you can choose to shift your gaze and look anew, donning kaleidoscope-tinted spectacles – the ones that infuse everything with wonder.
I think my experience of patch watching has been such an exercise in finding the 'everyday sublime'. It's…

Things that look like stained glass windows

Last year I wrote a blog piece entitled "why do things look like other things". Well things are continuing to look like other things!!

I'm going to post a series of what I would call "picture essays" if I were very pretentious. As I'm only moderately pretentious I'm calling them "essays in pictures" (that might actually be more pretentious - ed).

A stained glass window is undoubtedly one of those things that it's seen as good to resemble (unlike, say squashed chewing gum or a dog turd). It's a simile that denotes beauty - of a specific kind.

The quality that appeals is the mosaic of translucent sections or panels. Every now and then I think to myself - 'that looks like a stained glass window'
....and I like it.