Monday, 21 December 2015

Winter Solstice

A winter's Solstice walk:
At dusk in the gathering gloam of the longest night of the year
Although no crisp cold to celebrate the season
And the unseasonable mild is mildly disturbing.

I follow badgers' well-worn ways around the hill
But my unclawed feet slip and slide in the soft muddy slopes
Until near the summit I glance up at the misty moon, fat but not yet full,
Appearing between the pines darkly silhouetted against the night sky.
At the top of the hill the air is fresh, cool if not cold,
And the sounds of twinkling town are drowned
By the chattering of a clattering of jackdaws, unseen in the darkness.

Down the hill into an ancient holloway,
Old even when England was young,
It's fern-lined banks cast furtive shadows,
Twisting and turning in the torchlight,
Evoking ghosts of travellers past,
Until I spill out into the orange sodium glow of the present.

Turning left, against the flow of time,
Saluting silent sentinels of churchyard yews
To an old chapel; a stone sanctuary.
Sitting in stillness
Delighting in darkness
Imagining the coldness of winter -
Savouring the solstice.
Before hurrying home to light a fire
And toast the re-cycling of the seasons.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

The trees are cloaked
In a kaleidoscope of colours;
A scarlet leaf catches my eye.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Dark Words

Dark mornings, and dark thoughts accumulate like layers of fallen leaves;
Bright spirits so recently sparked by September sun are now dimmed and distant,
And my emotions have mulched into a mush of melancholy and self-doubt.

Well-being has become a Well Being; slumped into a dark pool of stagnant water
Where the hard seed-coating of confidence is rotting away to reveal a soft-centred inner ego.
Unprotected. Vulnerable. Easily squashed.
Maybe there is meaning in this decomposition of disposition;
A biologically necessary strategy to fall back,
To reshape into fragile forms,
Like fungal fruits quivering on the decaying forest floor:
Easily eaten; delicate to damage from passing foot or paw.
But necessary, maybe, for future fertility.

Camping by the edge of the river
I awoke to a world of water:
The air around me thick with mist;
The ground beneath me seeping with moisture.
Above me the steady patter of drops dripping,
But inversely - perversely  -
Only from underneath the canopy trees,
Where leaves filter the water-laden air
And recycle it into tree-rain.

Autumn turns things around.
What was once green and growing, surgent with sap,
Is now yellowing, limp and lifeless.
All that we once had and held within
Is sucked out of us.
But in the dark mornings, amidst the dark thoughts,
Something is festering, fermenting, fulminating...

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Auguries of Autumn


Beech leaves: copper-coloured
Sycamore leaves: black-spotted; curling edges
Ash keys: hundreds; hanging heavy
Elder leaves: yellow - limp and lifeless
Elderberries: glistening - dark and luxurious
Blackberries: finger-staining
Spindle berries: shocking (pink)
Sloes: gin
Apples (in the orchard): wind-fallen
Apples (in the shops): English
Hazelnuts: rattling in their shells
Haws: full-blooded red
Conkers: strung
Swallow: solitary
Swifts: gone
Grasses: gone to seed
Ivy: flowering
Mushrooms: mushrooming
Cobwebs: visible in morning moisture
September: sunny
Evenings: chilly
Fields: empty; stubble-strewn
River: swelling

Monday, 14 September 2015

Autumn Falling

I felt the first falling
Of autumn this morning.
The air's still mild,
But the wind's become wild
And capricious - stirring the trees
Into roaring seas;
Overwhelming waves of foliage.

The edges of sycamore leaves
Are fringed with mellow yellow rust;
Haws, like drops of spilt blood,
Have reached their deepest wounded red;
And sloes have matured to the colour of old bruises.
Spindle berries, shockingly pink,
Look lurid and licentious in the mild-mannered hedgerow -
Waiting to reveal their outrageous orange innards.

One solitary swallow, now,
Skims low over the grassland -
Trying to unmake a summer?
Late-leaver, last-chancer,
Looking lost in the vacant pasture,
Whilst an empty white bucket
Rolls around the field in circles
Like a plastic sheepdog
Without a flock
Driven by the incessant whistling of its master –
The wind.

I shelter by the broken stones of an old barn:
There amongst the rural ruins
Is the perfect place
To imagine summer slowly seeping away
And listen to the blowing-in of autumn.

Friday, 11 September 2015

The World Tree

Imagine a tree…
… a tall and shapely tree, green and graceful, with deeply delving roots, strong, sturdy trunk of fissured bark and bending branches spreading high and wide into the sky, crowned with green, lanceolate leaves. It’s an ash tree. But this ash is bigger than any other.

The tree is called Yggdrasil – the world tree, the axis of the earth, the framework of creation. In the upper branches of the tree, light and airy, is Asgard - the dwelling place of the gods: wise Odin, mighty Thor, beautiful Freya, and dangerous Loki. The lower branches and the trunk of the tree holds Middle-Earth - the dwelling place of men and women, birds and beasts. And amongst the thick roots of the tree, deep, dark and dank, is the underworld – the land of the dead.

Tripping neatly amongst the leafy canopy of the tree, feeding on its foliage, is a herd of hairy goats; nimbling along branches and nibbling on leaves. Their udders swell with sweet sustaining nectar, which the gods of Asgard drink daily, keeping themselves vital and virile. At the tip top of the tree, is a great eagle with curved beak and talons tightly clenched. Whilst down below at the base of the tree, is a great grey dragon, with scales of steel, tail coiled around its trunk. And in between is a scampering, scurrilous squirrel – leaping and bounding from branch to branch, spreading salacious slander and malicious gossip between the lofty eagle and the grounded dragon, until those two great creatures are whipped up into a frenzy of fury. The giant eagles beats its wide wings, tearing at the tree’s branches; the great dragon gnashes and gnaws its jaws, biting the tree’s roots. And so each day Yggdrasil, the World Tree, is ravaged and ripped, almost pulled apart. 

Until, at night, with gentle moonlight filtering through broken branches, then there comes three old crones, the three Norns, who between them weave the fabric of fate. They bring cool, clear water, from the well of life, which they pour onto the injured roots of the tree. And so Yggdrasil, the great ash, is refreshed, and replenished and renewed. And so our world continues…

Thursday, 2 July 2015


I like the feels of these fields
The shape of the shore
And little riffles in the river
I like the thrill of the hills
The dingle in the dell
And the ceaselessness of the sea.

I like the cleft in the cliff
The gleam of the stream
And standing under eaves of leaves.

I like the heat on the heath
The shelter of shadows
And midnight moonlight.

I like stormy mornings
Afternoon laughter
And homing in the gloaming.