Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Saving the Best for Last

I adore this photograph, maybe expecially because it's such an unprepossessing subject (and not very well photographed!) Again, it's the sun that works the magic. Who would have thought that a humble nettle could have such beautiful form, such gorgeous colour. Look at the subtle yellow-green of the flowers, hanging down like bunches of grapes. And the spider's threads glistening between the leaves. I love it.

Unexpected Beauty no. 2

Okay - this isn't quite an unexpected place - a tree is a beautiful thing - but I loved the way the sun backlit these larch branches and I also love the quiet subtlety of the grey-brown bark behind.

Beauty in Unlikely Places

To cheer us all up at the end of winter and to inspire us that beauty can be found in the most mundane and unpromising of places I thought I'd post three of my recent photos taken around my two and a half acres:

I came across this seed head of some wild umbellifer in my garden last week. My photo doesn't do it justice but the subtlety of the colours in the plant and the variety of shapes had me spellbound.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Pleasures of the Fireside

The latest instalment from Wendy Wood's From a Highland Croft has me wishing my wood-burning stove was fixed. I really must get it sorted...
"I had intended to visit friends today but the log fire with its leaping flames was too good to leave, and I have volumes to move into a new bookcase made this morning. It is not a decorative affair, but it is sturdy, and I should be prouder of the job is I had not hammered my thumb with emphasis. It is where a bookcase should be, beside the fire, where I can stretch out a hand for a favourite book or a reference. I say "where a bookcase should be" but in this cottage, bookshelves, mostly over-loaded, are all over the place. Time to read and time to think - isn't that a real luxury? Here we have lovely places in which to do our thinking according to our moods: beside the couthy fire or out on the rough shore by the length of the loch and under the height of the sky; in the silence of the small room or by the noisy waves in singing wind. One minute I am out to get water at the well with the tang of winter on my face, the hills showing purple and deep blue in the fading light and the holly leaves silhouetted in detail against the evening sky, and the next minute I am inside at the fire and busy with the big bellows and amusing myself making long sighs or wee puffs, that make the flames and the sparks we used to call faeries go leaping up the chimney; with the smell of toast, the tinkle of a spoon in a saucer, all one's senses are satisfied."

That's just how I feel about living in this place. It's lonely and maddening at times - the threat of being cut off in the winter and those damn ticks and midges in the summer - but I too feel that overwhelming luxury of choosing where to do my thinking. I can wander up to the back of the woodland and pretend I am alone in the world. I can walk down to the pond and connect with the newts - those links to a far older world. I can sit by the window and look out enigmatically at the ridiculously beautiful view. Or I can snuggle up in a chair with my dog by a radiator (the stove being broken) and write or read a book from one of my many overloaded bookcases. Life doesn't feel so bad today...

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Frost in Spring?

At last! Into February and I have found the first signs of life in the garden. Fellow blogger, Jenny B., posted a lovely photo of crocuses in full bloom in her Oxfordshire garden and I'm trying not to cry with envy. Nevertheless, I am thrilled to have found these tight little snowdrop buds - a couple of weeks and they will be nodding in the sunshine...maybe.

I know they are bulbs, not strictly seeds, but their sturdy defiance of the cold reminds me of the lines from the Robert Frost poem:

The sturdy seedling with arched body comes
Shouldering its way and shedding the earth crumbs.

That's what February is all about in my part of the world - sturdiness and hope. Whisper it - Spring is coming!