Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The Return of the White Shadows

Setting out in the late afternoon I find myself in a realm of colour, the red of the hawthorn berries against the yellow greens of the turning trees in the hedgerows and all against a backdrop of sky blue. The young rabbits are ever present at the edge of the long grass taking their chance to dash across the county lanes while flocks of sparrows flit along the edge of the fields taking their fill and making the best of the hedgerows cover from the threat of the sparrowhawks who seem to melt from sight in the taller trees until a careless bird strays too far from the safety of the flock and foliage.

As time passes and the sun lowers, the horizon takes it crimson hue, throwing long shadows as the air begins to cool. Fluttering wings of the kestrel portray a mastery of controlled flight, holding position over the ditches and field edge. Dipping and repositioning further down the lane after the land has been scoured by the piercing eyes of the little falcon. Across the field the vixen takes her turn to run, this rural predator shows no desire to raid close to the village before the cover of darkness.

Night draws in with soft steps and quiet miles, the breeze and gentle rustling of leaves fills the senses of hearing and touch as the blue fades to the horizon and the depths of space are revealed overhead. As my eyes adjust to the silvers, grey and black of the nightscape I am treated to the rising white form from the ditch further down the lane. The Barn Owl floats and drops on silent wings, they have been a rare and distant sight in the past summer but the cloudless evening and the harvesting of the small creatures has summoned them from their roosts to grace the darkness like white shadows.

Within the quiet of the land, the cycles of time, nature and light are turning in harmony.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Moon Drenched

Clouds anointed by the moons silver light passed slowly and silently overhead set against the stretching blackness of the night sky. We stopped on a timber bridge to drink in the sight of the mill pond before us, such a calm body of water under the full moon forms a spectacular pattern on the earth as if reflecting the entire cosmos and  laying it at our feet. A moving shadow and a gentle ripple declared the presence of a water bird, the ripples moved across the reflected face of the moon animating the reflection and serving as a reminder of the movement of life within the shadows and moonlight.

Leaning on the timber handrail for a moment I glanced into the darkness beneath the bridge. Within such blackness it seemed time itself had chosen to rest and a small portion of the world descended into an elemental stillness so rarely seen on this crowded isle. The timber bridges and the mill pond have been a sanctuary for us for many years, the turmoil of the day with the frictions of living close to many indifferent people always seem to melt away. I have often listened to people refer to the curtain of night and have found it a strange saying. Here the curtain seems to have been drawn back, before us in the sky and in the reflection is distance, space & time. Filling the senses and showing a depth of existence way beyond the blue skies of summer and the direct warming light of the sun. Where the sun brings light and life to wonderful aspects and landscapes, the darkness gently shows the true depths of the realm we live in.

Friday, 9 September 2011

The Uneasy Watchers

My recent wanders seem to have shown a different side to the woodlands from my usual peaceful meanderings after twilight. Arrangements and appointments have left me walking in the early morning and early evenings during daylight hours, with the light I decided to reacquaint myself with area of the wood I normally steer clear of. It would appear little has changed in the areas accessible by vehicles. A usual array of closely parked clandestine vehicles with shady sorts talking in hushed voices positioned themselves just off the car park road under cover of the tree canopy and foliage. Heads turned and conversations stopped as I passed by. One of the trees was adorned with the the word "weed" painted in red paint across its trunk and patches of fast food litter lay about where I suspect they had been cast from parked car windows.

Once away from the vehicles and road the serenity of the woods returned. The clatter of the wood pigeons wings was the only sound to raise itself above the gentle breeze in the trees, the shafts of sunlight seemed to shift and move in time with the movement of air. Many of the smaller paths had become choked with undergrowth leaving only the main paths clear and easily passible. I headed for a place where an old watch tower once stood but was disappointed to find only the rotten remains of its main structure ripped to the ground and scattered among the trees. On finally finding a clear small path I decided to change course and found myself treading carefully around deep tire ruts from heavy machinery which had long since passed by. At the paths end I appeared at a small car park deep within the woods. One vehicle positioned itself at the head of the car park, its owner gawping at me out of an open window with his head resonating with the battering of drum and base from a stereo possibly more powerful than the engine. I returned to the smaller tracks and made my way round and back in the direction of home.

Again the serenity of the woods returned to me like a welcome shroud, I found myself stepping over small fallen branches and ducking beneath the low canopy. One of my dog pack stopped to scoff a few blackberries from a trail side bramble, I have had the company of many dogs over the years but he has been the first to show me such a skill and never a cut mouth from the thorns close by the fruit. With the walk approaching an end I found the trail passing through a ditch. The summer had left the bottom of the ditch quite dry but the presence and arrangement of planks showed the footholds to avoid topping out a boot in the winter months. To the side a makeshift fence or handrail had been dug into the sides of the ditch. Standing in the bottom of the ditch it seemed the world was a silent place barely touched by the wind overhead, after enjoying the peace for a moment I carried on, back towards the car park area where stares and uneasy sideways glances would await my passing intrusion on in the world of the secretive and unwelcoming watchers.