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Microcosmic!

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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…

The News

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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 a star 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

Life is great!

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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?


Birds
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…

Biodiversi-tastic!

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I set myself the very enjoyable challenge of trying to photograph and, where possible, identify all the species of insects I found along a short stretch of path on my patch – in the space of a couple of hours.

There were a lot!

Once you get your eye in it’s amazing how much diversity there is – everything you look at seems to be something new.

And you can do this almost anywhere – a flower bed in the garden is perfect.

These are just the ones I managed to photograph, the actual number of insect species that make this plot their home will be several times this.

And these are just the insects, if you broadened it to the spiders, worms, molluscs, plants, higher animals etc, etc - and even the microbes - there will be way, way more.

Then think about individuals, not just species – astronomical numbers in this tiny fragment of planet Earth.

We hear a lot these days about wildlife numbers being depleted, this is true and very concerning.

However numbers are often compared to a supposed gol…

Gleaming lances of shivelight pierce the canopy

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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... Many thanks to the sun, mist, trees and grass for the morning display they put on!

Nature waits on us hand and foot.

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I had a bit of a slump last week so I wasn't able to do my usual morning patch walk. Instead I sat in the garden for about an hour.

This took me right back to what it is was like during my 10 year stint in a wheelchair. 

In a good way.

It reminded me of an insight, seemingly obvious, but nonetheless striking. If you can't go out into the world, the world comes to you.

As I sat and let the dawn chorus wash over me - song thrush, Blackbird, goldcrest, skylark, yellow hammer, birdsong drip dripped via ear drums, into my brain - delivered right to me...

...and sensed the golden touch of the first rays of the morning sun. It felt like nature was bringing me gifts - laying them at my feet. I was being waited on hand and foot.

I would never claim that being unable to walk is even remotely a good thing - that would be patently absurd (not to mention insulting to many people).

However there are consolations.

Part of it is lowering your sights...or more like altering your sights, seeing things …

A song sings the morning into being

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a song sings the morning into being
bootstraps the world from dark nothing

notes flow out and tumble down the slope
heading over heels
bouncing off rocks, changing direction

eddying into backwaters, spinning a while
then petering out to a coda of afterthought

amber music drips onto rich brown music
even the splashes are music

the song sings new leaves onto birches
and paints the grass a deeper green

more colours incant the parts that were missing
filling them in
because the song has made its own light now

the song sings a bird to the top of tree
then stops

as the blackbird flies into the morning
the morning it has made

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There are several highlights for me that mark moments in the year – in nature. Many concern signs of spring – the first hazel catkins, the first Chiffchaff song ...

Hearing the first blackbird song is one of these highlights - usually in January or February and usually just before dawn. I heard the fi…

A Hazel in January

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rounding winter's grey corner
I'm sprayed in the face with paint
yellow points splatter my retinas

and then drip 

drops trailing vertical paths
like a thousand star speckled
wagtails bursting out of the sun

so impossibly bright tassels
rind of lime as tinsel
a burning hazel bush that
sears everything around it

its catkins strung
between earthed dull gravity
and a skyfull of living things
wanting to live

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It may well sound like I'm going way over the top about this catkin festooned hazel.

But it stopped me in my tracks. This gets me every year - but miraculously more so every year.

I doubt that I'd have been more moved by seeing the Mona Lisa. I'll even admit to welling up a bit. It just seemed to have every spring I've ever seen encapsulated in those early January catkins.

Just spring coming round again, nature doing its thing, without fuss of fanfare (except from me!), and life wanting to live.






Word Magic

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"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…