Hallelujah

Today I cried for my childhood and, specifically, for my childhood faith…

I was raised Catholic, and I guess I just accepted that as I grew up and learned what religion (any religion, it seems…) was really about, it was natural to turn my back on the magic and goodness I first learned about in Sunday school. I never felt like I was losing anything; after all, I’m an urbane citizen of the world, cool in my cynicism and secure in my judgement rejecting institutions that didn’t live up to the goodness they promised.

I never thought about what I was losing.

Funny how the Christmas story, when you pare it back, is so relevant to today: a family travelling, unable to find a place to stay, and the kindness of strangers giving a warm bed and gifts. I’d forgotten that in the rush to get the gifts bought, the food planned, and all preparations done on time so I can heave a sigh of relief…

So I want to thank Kaylee Rodgers for reminding me of the purity of childhood holiness, and that there is good at the heart of it that’s worth holding onto. If you haven’t heard it, have a listen to her Christmas version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah and see if, for just a moment, you don’t believe in wonder.

kaylee-rodgersIllumination

layers my naivety

blinding me to joy.

While it’s not sent me back to Catholicism (it’s got a bit too far for that…) her gift did give me a much needed reminder of the beauty within people and, maybe, a tiny bit of faith.

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I am not an anorak

RSPB Sedge WarblerIt’s my third week of #30DaysWild and it’s great to have a focus for my blog (even if it’s not so different from the usual…)

Today I woke up early (6am on a Sunday – why?) and in the mood for a long walk, further south along the river than I usually go, and what a lovely reward – a Sedge Warbler singing in the morning. It’s not that they’re rare, but it’s the first time I got a look at one of these lovely little guys and a poem just popped into my head while a paused for a look.

I’m becoming a bit of a nerd
For noting the type of the bird
I see when I walk
But I don’t stop to gawk!
Me, a twitcher? Now don’t be absurd!

Can I just emphasise the lack of binoculars and stalker-like obsession – you can’t be a twitcher when you just enjoy a lucky peek 🙂 If you do fancy working out what the bird you’re seeing or hearing is, though, try the RSPB, where I got this lovely photo.

To everything, there is a season

This week I’m struggling for ideas, and wondering where all the happiness I normally get from walking outside has got to. I have to be honest, right now nature is annoying me. More specifically, the weather is annoying me.

First there were the lashing winds a couple of weeks ago; I was a bag of nerves worrying about my peonies (all in bud) and spitting tacks because it was, frankly, too horrid for my daily walks. That eased briefly, deceptively, into a few nice days, when I got some walks in (careful, though – go early to avoid sunburn), but now we’re back to sticky heat and thundershowers that make walking a misery.

I’m starting to think I’m lucky I started my walking habit in autumn, because summer might just have stopped it before it started (let’s not mention flying insects and pollen…)

All in all, my temptation is to just fling open the patio doors and sit inside looking at the garden and listening to the fountain. I can count on the birds coming for a bath every afternoon, which is hilarious with the resident bullying blackbird trying to chase everyone else away, and there seems to be something new blooming every day.

Summer, like no other season, seems to me like a time for sitting and dreaming, so maybe I just need to take that gift and enjoy it. Autumn will arrive soon enough.Daisy


Verdant greens caress

Inviting slumberous pause

While the sun sparkles

Walking by the river

Morning WalkI’m still walking by the river most days, mostly in the morning, in time to watch the world wake up. There’s always something new to see: moorhen chicks, goldfinches, and even a wren yesterday.

It seems odd that the year is nearly half gone. So much has changed, mostly for the better, but the changes haven’t been without pain.

This morning I caught up with my swan family today and, for the first time ever, mama hissed defensively. And I noticed – only four babies…

Time passes gently
Or sometimes it tears right by
Red in tooth and claw

Spring morning

I can’t quite believe it’s been two months since my last blog; somehow life seems to be getting in the way these days. Prompted by The Wildlife Trust’s #30DaysWild challenge in June, I decided it was time to renew my commitment to reflecting on my time in nature.

Most of my days begin with a sunrise walk along the river. It’s a time to greet the day, to gather my thoughts and ground myself before being swept up in my to-do lists and client needs. Throughout April, a highlight of each morning was peeking at a swan nest on the river bank and wondering when the babies would be born. A little over a week ago, I had a lovely treat when mum, dad and five babies swam across the river to say hello; I could honestly see dad’s chest puffing with pride!

New FamilyWrapped in downy grey

For a first family portrait;

Proud parents show-off

Sunlight on the river

Friday morning I took a walk – I decided I’d better take advantage of the one chance the forecast suggested I’d get to spend time outdoors over the bank holiday weekend.

I took my usual route out of town and along the river, setting off while the sun was still low in the sky. It’s hypnotic, walking along the river, no matter what the season and Friday was no exception as I walked along watching the sun glint on the river, brushing through stands of dried teasel and smelling the fresh grass.

I love the soft colours of early spring, before the vibrant greens take over from the dun of winter, and the textures of water and fields around me tickle my senses just enough to ground me. No great surprise, really, when a poem took hold.

Thames Sparkles
Thames Sparkles by Jessica Winder

Sparkles dance on blue;

Silk in the burlap landscape.

Nature’s minuet.

Thanks so much to Jessica Winder for the lovely photo – sun sparkles on the River Ouse funnily look just like the ones on the Thames! Take a look at her other photos (and some interesting information about them at Jessica’s Nature Blog.

Winter morning

Driving to work last Friday morning, I was reminded again of why I love winter mornings. It’s the stillness of the mist on the fields, the blackness of bare trees against the pearly sky, the anticipation of knowing that something wonderful is just waiting to wake up…

fields_in_frost_and_mist2c_arborfield_-_geograph-org-uk_-_616553Fields still tucked up tight

Drowsing under fog blankets,

Sun tugs at the edge.

Photo credit