Classic Patch!

After a couple of weeks of setting off on my patch walks in the dark – often getting back in the dark, often in the rain and not bothering to remove my lens cap, this morning was all the more welcome.

A beautiful, bright, crisp morning – a classic! It’s a good job no one was in earshot as every few steps I’d let out a ‘wow!’ or an ‘oh!’.

Then when I got to the top of the ridge and saw one of the best ‘sea of mist’ effects ever – a “no way!”.

Top marks to the sun, sky, mist, fact nature, for a great show this morning - Classic Patch!

The Lightning Tree

On my walks around the old golf course, on my patch, I always pay my respects to my favourite tree – probably in the world. I doff a mental cap to the Lightning Tree. I honour its plucky underdog-edness, its tenacity, its will to live.

With innards hollowed out so that only a shell of oak remains, it was almost certainly struck by lightning. When lightning hits a tree it can have a variety of effects, some get off lightly – but not this one. The strike may well have raised the core temperature so much that the sap boiled, some trees explode, this one is burnt out.

I can stand inside and survey the damage. What are now the walls of this trunk cubicle are charred to black, with a texture like the skin of a dark snake, greened in places by algae. I can look up and see the sky through a portal of burnt wood. I’m standing in the place heartwood should be – the place that fire has voided.

This winter’s morning it looks to be in a sorry state. The lightning tree appears to be on its last legs. …

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 …

The Soul of beneath - Fungi

Everywhere on the patch there is an extruding and issuing. Toadstools are emerging from nooks, crannies and crevices. Agarics are bursting from the soil. Brackets are banding tree trunks.  Crusts, smuts and mildews are coating branches and leaves. Tripe, jelly, ears and brains are erupting their bizzare shapes from rotting wood.

Fashioned, as if from the very stuff of underworld, from the soul of beneath.

Fungi are brilliant!'s why...

They are mysterious.
Aristotle puzzled over the nature fungi, coming to the conclusion that they were an odd kind of plant. On the other hand,  a lot of his less scientific contemporaries believed them to be earthly manifestations of a magical realm. It's easy to see why. Their sudden appearance overnight, has something of the conjuring trick about it.

Even plants move around, and rustle in the wind. Fungi just stand there - silent and still – mysterious sentinels keeping their fungal secret knowledge to themselves.

There is indeed someth…

a crack must have opened

a crack must have opened
to let the barn owl in slipped
white side down
ghost side up mothborne from another world flashes like bonfire night
in very slow motion
unleaded the clouds tiny nativities put
day fragments in glow scattered at first then melding
to an aleluia of skylight The owl made a vortex
of itself spiral tightened down by the pull
of the volewise grass then as it dipped back
it changed shape to air snipping scissoring shears maybe it passed on
a baton of morning to the kestrel

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.


Autumn Dance - Bird music track

Autumn has been officially inaugurated. It has for me at least. A skein, 110 strong, flew over the patch last Saturday - a fluxating chevron of south-bound Pink-footed Geese.

By way of celebrating  I produced this track made just from samples (raw or processed) of the patch's autumn birds. The bird species are identified in the comments on the time line.

The percussive sounds are made from a Robin 'tick' and a Fieldfare 'chack'. The fluity 'melody', such as it is, is Whooper Swan. I've taken a bit of a liberty calling the Whooper swan a 'patch' birds as I saw 4 flying on one occasion! Brambling, Fieldfare, Redwing, Siskin, Chaffinch, Meadow Pipit, Pied and Grey Wagtails provide flight calls of the kind you might hear on an Autumn morning when migration is taking place.

I used a similar idea earlier in the year with Spring / Summer birds.  Autumn bird sound consists mainly of calls -  as opposed to spring version when there is a lot more song