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…

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…

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.

What's the Point of Wasps?

You quite often hear things like “what’s the point of…” followed by some despised form of wildlife – wasps and slugs are contenders for top of this list.
You might as well ask ‘what’s the point of humans’ – I don’t think other species should be viewed solely as things that serve our purposes – they didn’t evolved ‘for us’ – they simply evolved – and like everything else they fit into an ecological ‘niche’.
None of us would be here if it weren’t for say - wasps.
Imagine a world with an alternative history in which wasps didn’t evolve. The effects would cascade up through the millennia to a present which would be different (to an extent we can only guess at) – humans would probably exist in some form, but I’d suggest that given individuals wouldn’t.
Insects aren’t very popular with a lot of people but without insects our ecosystems would collapse – life is interconnected and interdependent.
The tabloid press fuels a view of nature as the enemy – with lurid headlines linking wildlife wi…

Word Magic

"I know each lane, and every valley green. Dingle, or bushy dell, of this wildwood" - Milton
Arranweb Spider's Web; Lancashire Dialect Bleb An air bubble in ice; perhaps a variant of 'blob' Carr Damp woodland with alder or willow; Middle English

I been inspired recently by two wonderful books, Rober Mcfarlanes’s  “Landmarks
and Dominick Tyler’s “Uncommon Ground: a word-lover's guide to the British landscape”.  Both books explore the potency our nature language – the words that describe the places, hills, waters, weather, paths, fields and wildlife of our countryside.
I have compiled an A-Z of the patch, with terms that home in on a specific detail. These kinds of precise words help us to notice things, that might otherwise be overlooked, they root us in the landscape, give us a sense of place, they perform a kind of word-magic.
Delf Something that has been dug, such as a ditch, pit, mine, or grave; Old English Eawl-Leet (Owl-Light) The first l…