Small things that are everything


A few words about words. Philosophical thinking is enhanced by a fine use of words. Clarity is an honourable goal. Yet there are still some things in nature, and the spaces in between, which are yet to be granted an English name.

The Welsh use a wonderful word, hiraeth, which has no direct English translation. Its meaning is quite profound: Homesickness and grief for a lost time, a whistful yearning, nostalgia for a homeland which is no longer the same. Hiraeth says it all.

No English word exists for the particular shine between wet pebbles. There’s no word for our mental well-being gained from connection to nature. Look for a single word to describe small leaf bundles snagged around riparian twigs at high flood, and you will not find one.

Language of any kind has great value to those that use it. When I’m out along the river and I see a small leaf bundle snagged around a twig, I understand what it is and I imagine how it was formed. A long tailed-tit alights upon it, a bird so delicate in its search between the leaves for insects to eat. The small leaf bundle is of great value to the bird, and to the insects that are hiding, should they succeed in avoiding the bird! When eventually the leaves degrade and fall down into the water, float on the surface for a while before sinking, they become part of the organic material which gives life to the river. The small things are everything.

So I’m naming this small bundle of leaves, which snags on riparian twigs during floods, a tweavelet. I hope the long-tailed tit and the insects will not mind, nor the tweavelet, for they are my kin. It’s for all of us to look for the small things that have no name. And the spaces in between. Perhaps we should give them names, for often they are everything. 

Ventus; winds


For the last few weeks, we’ve been enjoying the shelter of a restored Tudor Cottage. It is dominated by a large stone hearth built to withstand the winter winds from the North on this ancient river plain. It’s newly installed oil fired central heating system gives lie to our otherwise blunt exposure to the high winds that race down from the precambrian sandstones of the Mynydd Hir, Shropshire’s Long Mynd. Despite radiators, the hearth remains the heart of the house and since we’ve been here, I’ve kept the log fire going longer than I thought I would. Fire is in my blood and the smell of woodsmoke serves to rekindle countless good memories.

Indirectly, the North wind designed this house and its orientation by the applied knowledge of the people who built it. Hearth to the North to fend off the cold, doors and windows to the West for evening light, garden to the south for the longest growing season. Far more trees would have surrounded the cottage at one time, giving rise to further shelter/shade, interspersed with roughly grazed water meadows blushed with the colour of wildflowers in Summer. Now we’re surrounded by vast saturated wheat fields, cider apple saplings by the thousand, and a few lone oaks in the clipped hedgerows. Birds still come and go by the winds that carry them, but not in such great number as they used to. I can see a mutation of fieldfares through the window as I write, and a bevy of mute swans are wintering three fields away.

So wind, from the latin, ventus, is still at work here, as it has been since water formed oceans and dry land baked in our star’s young warmth. Air moves from high to low pressure zones, which are caused by this differential heating of the atmosphere above land and ocean. Air generally moves from polar regions to the equator and from high mountains to valleys, but the very axis of our spinning Earth also plays tricks, causing swirls of moving gas and weather patterns, like hurricanes, that can be seen from space.

Ecologically, wind is an important actor upon species and ecosystems, spanning continents with as much ease as lifting a butterfly. It helps to create waves, salt spray and dunes. Evapotranspiration, plant energy, whisps of dragon’s breath seen above hillside woods, is taken by the winds to fuel our atmosphere. Wind helps to create soils through rock abrasion, erosion, deposition and blowing dead golden leaves to the ground. It acts again by bringing moist air to higher altitudes, where water condenses to precipitation; rains that flow to rivers; snow that flows (more slowly) to glaciers. Wind is the silent partner to flight, the daily medium for birds, moths, beetles, bats. Wind creates or perpetuates ecological damage via storms or chasing fires, from which new life springs forth. Wind disperses pollen, seed, fruits. Wind impacts plants, in either lodging them flat or in deforming growth, dwarfing, cushioning, anatomically cell changing stuff.

We ‘see’ wind as it bends the willows, fills a sail or whips up a dust devil. We ‘hear’ it against the mountain boulders, along a power line or in tiny grains of sand gambolling across a beach in a gust. And yet, without its myriad of interactions, we neither see nor hear it. But it’s important to remember the ecological gifts still brought by the winds. There’s much to be celebrated.

Many cultures across the globe have names and deities in honour of local winds and other climatic effects. Pacific islanders once relied heavily on an intimate knowledge of climate and wind for ocean navigation and migrations, so have them integrated into their culture by place names and folktales. Maori scribes even created genealogical charts of the winds, in Whakapapa tradition of using human kinship as a model to describe the origins of the existence of all nature. Each iwi (tribe) had their own whakapapa.
Over the last few millennia, of course, we’ve learned to harness the winds for trade, Empire and wealth. Then coal and steam, now diesel. And now we are looking at wind as a resource again, ethical storms lashing around the industrialisation of wind as a renewable energy source to meet our increasingly modern requirements, indeed if these requirements, like my oil fired central heating system, are necessary at all.

So the winds are a giver and taker of life, creator and destroyer. Life will have to adapt again to the changes in wind patterns by human induced global temperature and climate change. And wind may be part of any solution.
Meanwhile, I’ll keep lighting my log fire to fend off the Northerlies, will carry on watching fieldfares through the window and smelling the woodsmoke as it wafts around the cottage before we move on to new pastures green.



“Our fantastic civilization has fallen out of touch with many aspects of nature, and with none more completely than with night. Primitive folk, gathered at a cave mouth round a fire, do not fear night; they fear, rather, the energies and creatures to whom night gives power; we of the age of the machines, having delivered ourselves of nocturnal enemies, now have a dislike of night itself. With lights and ever more lights, we drive the holiness and beauty of night back to the forests and the sea; the little villages, the crossroads even, will have none of it. Are modern folk, perhaps, afraid of night? Do they fear that vast serenity, the mystery of infinite space, the austerity of stars? Having made themselves at home in a civilization obsessed with power, which explains its whole world in terms of energy, do they fear at night for their dull acquiescence and the pattern of their beliefs? Be the answer what it will, to-day’s civilization is full of people who have not the slightest notion of the character or the poetry of night, who have never even seen night. Yet to live thus, to know only artificial night, is as absurd and evil as to know only artificial day.”
― Henry Beston, The Outermost House: A Year of Life On The Great Beach of Cape Cod

Wolf Manoth: Reintroducing wolves to mainland Britain, an ethical dilemma.

According to the 9th Century Anglo Saxon Chronicles, key historic manuscripts written during the reign of King Alfred the Great, January was known as ‘Wolf Manoth’. This was a more stable meteorological era, with native Eurasian wolves almost guaranteed to come out of the relative safety of the woods to approach human settlements for food in harsher weather. They were perceived, not surprisingly, as an agri-cultural threat. And so Wolf Manoth was deemed the first full month of wolf hunts by the all-prevailing feudal nobility.

After the fall of the Roman Empire and before the Medaeival Renaissance, with bloody Saxon invasion and the spread of Christianity, any indigenous pagan reverence to nature was lost. There was a drive to dominate land, defend it, convert and reap it.

Britain’s native wolf, Canis lupus lupus, the Eurasian Wolf (or perhaps a sub-species), was said to be as big an animal as ever found in the Arctic. They were noted at battle scenes scavenging on the dead but were equally considered noble, courageous, persevering and tireless. As such, the wolf was often symbolized on the heraldic Arms and Crests of nobility. To kill one was a feather in one’s cap.

In terms of natural history, events of the Middle Ages are a short hop away from our industrially farmed landscapes and sheep-shaped uplands of today. The Welsh Borders were once graced by thick native woodland, plenty of prey species and, before settlement, would have fueled good populations of Eurasian Wolf, largely out of sight of Celts, Romans and Anglo Saxons alike. But as humans warred over these Borderlands and castles were built to occupy and defend, wolves, in predating Royal game species like deer and boar, were out-competing Kings and Princes. Worse still, they posed an increased threat to commoners’ livestock, young children and as a species, were not afforded any Royal protection from them, unlike deer. Their end was perhaps an inevitability. Every last beast — male, female and cub — lost in taming the British Wild.

No-one seems to know for sure where exactly the last pure wolf or breeding pair was killed. Hybrid bones have been discovered and identified, perhaps throwing light on a more gradual intermingling of wolf genes with those of domestic dogs. There are a few locations cited as contenders, however. Somewhere and at some point, the deed was done.

There is a section of the Upper Irfon river, a tributary of the Wye, called Camddwr Bleiddiad, a spectacular place in itself, but all the more exotic when you know the translation… “Wolves’ Gorge”. If you know the Abergwesyn Valley at all, it will be easy for you to imagine wolves up among sheep on the open slopes, or calling to one another on the ridges, above the rush of water. And on Bryn Gawr, in the Desert of Wales,the Cambrian Mountains. Ecological ghosts remembered in a name.

Another place not far away and a contender for that last wolf kill in Britain (possibly as recently as the early 1700s) is the Upper Lugg Valley, also a tributary of the Wye. It rises from north of the Radnor Dome, where prehistoric burial grounds have been found on the summits. There are a few small villages alongside the river as it flows west, Llangunllo, Whitton and on to the town of Presteigne. There’s a steeper, more isolated valley to the South of Llangunllo and a lone village called Bleddfa. Settled a long time before the turnpike road was built in the 19th Century, it was surrounded by a Royal hunting enclosure, otherwise known as the Radnor Forest, the remains of which are now stewarded by NatResWales. The castle there, Bledewach, now a grassy mound, was the scene of fierce Welsh/English skirmishes, and indeed was captured from the Mortimers by  Llewelyn ap Gruffydd himself, the last true Welsh Prince, in 1262. Bleddfa can be translated from Welsh to “Wolf’s Nook or Abode”.

Now here’s my own twist. My mother’s paternal family hail from the Upper Lugg Valley. There are remnants of my ancestral DNA scattered in graveyards all around, and we’ve genealogy records relating to one particular hill farm dating back to the early 1700s. It’s not beyond reason that my ancestors may have participated in that supposed last brutal kill, and others before.

Despite my deep beliefs in non-human nature as kin, I am not filled with guilt for the actions of my Medieval ancestors. Neither do I feel compelled to put this obvious wrong right. But I do, with a biocentric consequentialist leaning*, value the moral worth and high moral standing of wolves.

According to supporters, not least author and columnist, George Monbiot, there are strong ecological arguments to reintroduce the Eurasian wolf to mainland Britain, and I would agree in theory. The wolf of the weald, of the woods, could be a strong symbol of woodland succession, self-will of the land, and a renaissance of our currently denuded shoulders of upland England, Wales and Scotland. New frontiers in ecological science tell us that apex predators, in the few areas around the globe where they are able to exist without human persecution, or where they’ve already been reintroduced, are crucial to “Trophic Cascades.” These are powerful interactions controlling entire ecosystems, where top predators limit the density and/or behavior of prey species, therefore benefiting the next lower trophic level in the ecosystem, and so on. In the case of wolves, they initiate a more natural ecosystem balance down to flora and soils, particularly through the predation of ungulates like deer.

We need to ask ourselves again, however, are we simply playing ‘God’ by restoring historical or forming novel ecosystems? Isn’t this the same old attitude of dominion which caused the demise of the wolf in the first place? What are the guarantees of success in a changing world and a changing climate? Are we not simply trying to assuage collective guilt, acting upon a sense of duty to put things right ecologically or as Monbiot suggests, acting from ecological boredom and the rewilding of our own minds?

I’ve learned recently that funds are being raised for a first major British upland rewilding scheme, in the Desert of Wales.** To succeed, advocates must bring along with them local hillfarmers, communities, estates, any potential intolerance, particularly to wolves should they decide to re-introduce them there in future. Education, particularly in neighbouring settlements but also beyond, of wolf ecology, behaviour and depredation (or deterring techniques to protect pets and livestock) as well as introducing strict regulations in their welfare, prevention of starvation and hunting are vital. We live in the 21st Century, but some still see themselves as ‘traditional country people’ with ‘traditional rights.’

Outlanders imposing new ideas may not be warmly welcomed. Broadly, attitudes may have changed since Tudor times, but in some rural areas, not as much as you might think.

Three hundred wolf heads, five wolf tongues a year, three hundred wolf pelts in exchange for gold coins, property, lands, even freedom was bought by the extirpation of magnificent British wolves. And those individuals forming packs were as social as any human community at the time, with senses and sensitivities even beyond our full comprehension today. We are still naive of the fullness of their being, but we are learning. The wolves that once were, or the wolves that are to be, have moral worth in themselves and rights to exist for their own sake. I suggest we have to look carefully at the potential consequences for them, and indeed, for the hillfarmers and communities. Hopefully these consequences will be positive. For now, I am heartened there will be no wolf killings in Radnorshire this Wolf Manoth, neither by Nobility nor Commoner alike. Sadly, I cannot say the same for foxes.

* More on Prof Robin Attfield’s Biocentric Consequentialism
** Cambrian Wildwood Crowdfunding, Sustain Magazine


Environmental ethics: Prioritizing nature.

Image   I often hear this, and sometimes with a dismissive tone: What relevance does environmental ethics have to me and what I do at home, work or at play?  Answer: everything! The term ‘environmental ethics’ is the study, thoughts and explorations of the moral relationships, values and statuses we extend to our surroundings and non-human life. It is part of the study of Philosophy…. Just thinking, but with rigor!

To put it another way, if you exist on Planet Earth, you’ll have a relationship with nature. Our survival depends on it, we need sustenance, water, fuel, even if we buy them at  the co-op, even if we just turn on the hot tap or take a breath of fresh air. But we have responsibilities. Understanding environmental ethics helps to focus our relationship with nature, reason, to set out priorities  (individually and socially), and to be deliberate about our choices.

Newsworthy science is informing us everyday that our environment is changing: Climate, diversity of life, drought, flood. Underlying all thought, including scientific thought, there is philosophy. There should be no prejudice between science and philosophy. The two are bridged by organisation of thought, logic, deduction.

But sadly I see much misconception about Philosophy.  It tends to fall down a deep chasm between science and policy formation. You only need to look at the ongoing furore surrounding biodiversity offsetting. To philosophise is deemed wistful, impractical, whilst Rome (or Sumatra) burns and the planet falls about our ears. Forget philosophy, action is what is required, realpolitik, economics, hands on, realism, pragmatism! Philosophy is deep, organized thought, taking in all these aspects, on which basis… if action is instead based on thoughtlessness, then God save us all!

I would agree that to philosophise can be a waste of time if, for instance, it lacks coherence, logic or is too dogmatic, but not the general subject itself. The fact is the more we understand about the basis and attitudes of people to the environment, the better.

Most people get on with their daily lives making judgments based on intuition, experience, or influenced by those that pay them. To purposefully prioritise ideas into a value system, an ethic, rather than a foggy muddle, will no doubt help to clarify arguments, strengthen debates, policies, society.

Anthropocentric, non-anthropocentric

Anthropocentrism is human-centredness, an ethical framework that grants moral standing solely to human beings. Western philosophy is dominated by anthropocentrism, but environmental ethicists have provided alternative thought. As part of nature, humans are interdependent on nature, not separate. So how can we have a framework for living our lives based simply on human need, or human dominance over nature singularly for our own sake? It seems to me this type of thinking, actions and policies resulting, is what is causing climatic and ecological upheaval in the first place, from the Industrial Revolution onwards. A species selfishness.

So ethics MUST be extended beyond human need. But what of moral standing, that we must be mindful, compassionate and considerate of the needs of entities other than our own kind. Should it be offered to sentient animals or to all individual living organisms? Some feel we should extend moral standing to systems such as rivers, mountains, flood plains, landscapes, ecosystems. Determining whether our environmental obligations are based on anthropocentric or non-anthropocentric reasoning, of course, will lead to different accounts of what our responsibilities and obligations are. With a bit of luck and a fair wind, being more decisive may even move us towards a good, sustainable life here on spaceship Earth.

I also hear: Why can’t we individually hold multiple views? Because pluralistic ethical thought adds to the fog and the muddle. If we set goals, we need to be heading towards them with clarity, not deviating between ideals and changing the goal posts. So please, if you care at all, familiarise yourself with, at least, the basic enviro-ethical spectrum of thought, decide where you stand and act accordingly. We need to be more mindful, deliberate. We owe this to nature, for all that we take from it.

For further reading, try starting at Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Environmental Ethics

Mother, daughter, river.

“A river revealed in a flash of lightning is as thick and quivering as gelatin. And yet, measured against a millennium, a mountain melts down the sides of the valley and pours into the sea.” Kathleen Dean Moore

I have a photo in front of me just now, I was eight or nine at the time. It’s a snapshot taken high in the cypress groves of Corfu, my Mum in sun glasses carrying me on her hip, my tanned little arms slung around her with affection.  Summer 1978 was a good one. I remember, I have the photo.

My own daughter is now about the same age as me then, and Mum’s ashes are interred in a peaceful churchyard. Time moves along.

Image       River water-crowfoot, Ranunculus fluitans

There is a particular place along the River Wye, which I know very well. Smiles, curves, colour and mood, I feel I know her spirit through the seasons  like my mother knew me and I know my daughter. This is where the river transits between child and adolescent, where water crowfoot flowers in plenty and one can stand on a bridge nearby and sense her youth over rocky outcrops, but also the widening of her girth, the lengthening of her reach. I know exactly where to step into the shallows, gaging speed and volume of water with depth so that the cold flow won’t spill into my boots and shock my senses. I know where the more dangerous eddies form, where hot limestone slabs bake in Summer, high points where, on a good day, you can see to clear depths, and places where the ice bites first in the Winter.

Upstream, I know she’s the child; learning, playful and mischievous. About five miles further downstream it’s her first major flood plain, where fertile soils in Spring and Summer make for prized agricultural land. I’ve known her character a little in middle age too. Around Hereford City, where the Bishops Palace reflects in her mirror eyes and mute swans swim with bread fed mallard. She tumbles through a mid life crisis at Yat Gorge and slows again by Wordsworth’s Tintern. I don’t know her at all from there to the sea. Perhaps I’ll explore her tidal character when I am older, as she winds slowly down to the Severn Estuary and the salty wisdom of the Irish Sea.

At whichever point I have visited along the length of the river, I often lose perception of my own sense of time. This is a very good thing for me, healing processes at work, perhaps a gift to us all inherited from millennia of people-nature bonds. Worries and fears dissipate into the strong vortex of life, water and rock that is the Wye. She compels and sustains.

But this ancient river has worth of her own exceeding all of our combined human needs. She is, from source to sea, matter and anti-matter, in a seemingly perpetual cycle. She responds to climate by expanding and contracting, like breath. Her course wanders (the Romans called her Vaga, the Wanderer) over, under and through time, melting towards the sea. Geology, morphology, ecology, war, plunder, possession; she’s endured the changes. And she’ll respond accordingly to our current meddling with her atmosphere, plains and structural woodland, by flood and by erosion. It is in her nature, the nature of energy, to want to spread out.

Long into the future, perhaps the winds may change direction, continents will divide again, the Wye’s entire length may disappear, consumed by new geological action and climates. There may be traces of her ancient form and life in the rock, and these may, in turn, erode to dust and silt the rivers a billion years from now.

One person’s lifespan is a blink of an eye to the river. All things relative, of course my own perceptions of time may be faster than the veteran oak or the pearl mussel, slower than the needle fly or sand martin. And we experience the river as uniquely as we are species. Fast or slow. Yet it is our meeting point.

I’ll keep going to the river and will bring my daughter along on occasion to lose track of our time. Ebb or flow, whirlpool or riffle, all the senses engaged, memories will be in the making and not in the recalling. And I’ll keep this photo of me and Mum in a frame from now on, a lightning flash of a single moment of our river of time together.


Mindfulness and culverts

There’s a footpath near here, a line first inked on a 19th Century map by an eager railway engineer. It’s the long, straight ghost of The Mid Wales line heading north and south through the village. Running for around 100 years, it was closed some six decades ago by Mr Beeching who had been appointed to rationalise the railways by Transport Minister and Conservative MP Ernest Marples, a road builder.  Familiar story. Now nature is claiming it back.

Where leviathan locos once rumbled along tracks, pulling wax-polished carriages of wide-eyed passengers seated at smoky windows, there is now grass and sedge. Where once was coal smoke, there is now cool, fresh air. Ben trotted ahead in his red jacket, a glowing beacon in dim light, and I followed. The riding is lined either side by young ash and hawthorn, rippling with flocks of house sparrows. Thickets of bramble, holly and hazel are growing strong. An abundance of wildlife have made their home and hunting ground here. I could smell them in the rain.

As I ambled along, the ploughed fields to either side of the path gently fell away, the old track foundations remaining plumb, heading to a mystical point somewhere in a wooded area dead ahead. Heavy labour built this old railway to boost one of the poorest counties of Wales. Now, decades later, it boosts me, my dog and some glorious regrowth. I feel honoured.

Down from beside the village church there is a brook, one of thousands of small tributaries flowing into the River Wye over its 215km journey. I stepped over some fencing and found my way down to a culvert through which this brook gurgles beneath the embankment. I discovered a thing of beauty, a small tunnel of well-hewn masonry crafted to resist tonnes of rock, engineering and the weight of people from above. Yet, simultaneously and unintended, a valuable and wondrous habitat for insects, bats, aquatic species and, potentially, dippers (will check the biological records), as it draws the stream into darkness like an elastic band.

The culvert will need repair sometime in the future. I can see a few of the stone blocks have shifted and cracks have formed in the overall structure. Whoever maintains or insures this defunct railway, its culverts and old bridges I hope will not replace with wildlife deterring smooth tubes of concrete or machined plastic. If we must build, renovate or indeed culvert (if it can’t be avoided), I think we have a moral obligation to extend usefulness beyond our own remit, beyond our use.

Now and into the future. Being mindful of nature is an increasing necessity methinks. Why not in designing, choosing materials, building, repairing….it doesn’t have to cost much, but enough.

Moral obligation….you may hear this again from me in my writing. The detail of managing this obligation is something to be settled, of course, and I hope to explore further.

Ben and I found our way over the embankment to the lower side and traced the re-illuminated stream a few tens of metres to its confluence with a flooded Wye. No signs, no celebrations of this watery union on the river bank, save for a glimpse of pure white snowdrops bursting into flower beneath the waves.  Wonders.


Curiouser and Curiouser

If honest, much of my time outdoors is spent with an irreverence to wildlife photography . I sometimes carry my camera, sometimes not. I will always be keen to spot non-human life, unusual light, vistas, contrasts, oddments, but what really pulls me out from a warm hearth into a wild, wet Winter’s day is curiosity.

You may not find many references to play in wildlife photography to-do guides. They are masters of patience, connoisseurs of self-containment.
It’s one of the reasons I never declare myself as a wildlife photographer. I play too much and don’t conform as I might.

The river is often my draw; like a magnet I seek out the life of it, the sounds, smells and the feel of it. Slippery rock, cool water, smooth or fast flow.  To start, look at the path just here. Beyond the gate down the hill to the limestone slabs. There’s more moisture in the soil since yesterday, must have rained overnight, any new roots exposed? Any more human tracks? No fresh ones, I hope. Look at these worm casts and willow leaf bundles half pulled into a secretive, damp underworld.

Give me a stick and I will poke it in the mud. I meddle. Give me a pebble and I’ll rub it clean, throw it in the deeps, or keep it in my pocket. Show me a narrowing path and I will follow it. Peering.

In Summer haze, I might lie down in sweet grasses and look up. Maybe there are twittering passerines nearby, unseen. But high up, a raptor with a large lazy wing flap and a forktail. Red kite!

Last week, I sat quietly bankside to observe a goosander diving beneath a silky river pool, hopeful of capturing an image. Lens cap off. Time passed with no shots taken.

Countless questions swirled about in my mind; my imagination hurling me that extra mile into the explorations… plus-sized memories in the making. What must it feel like to possess a saw-bill? Do goosanders feel anxiety if they lose their mates? Where will this bird Winter this year, Northern Norway or will she remain resident here nestled between these softer Welsh hills, as more and more seem to be doing each Winter?

Ah look! A tiny may fly emerges from still waters at the river’s edge. I pluck it out of the surface tension, hold on my finger and take a few pictures. I put it down on a dark, discreet pebble to warm.

And now a king salmon glides past the riverbank, late, but a reminder of ancient plenty. Distractions! Look at his beautifully smooth wave-like movement. His shine, his jaw line.  Returning from a long adventure, how does this fine creature survive all predators, us?
So I follow him upstream as far as I can, admiring his glittery magnificence beneath the surface until he blackens in a gloomy deep. The goosander is long gone.

Memories are the richer for the goosander, mayfly and salmon. I am richer for all. They now become part of me, as they are of each other.

One should sometimes loose track of time, the normal responsibilities of family life, being mum, wife, daughter, sister, dissolving for just an hour or two. Fend off the guilt, resist the capitalist work ethic, the judgments. Childish and selfish to be still curious outdoors? Not at all, but children are good at prodding around in nature, given half a chance. It is connection, who we are and where we fit in. Our place.

I’m glad for learning the craft of being able to switch off, at least for a while, and now, to be unconsciously curious. No need to go too far into the distance. It is part but not the whole of living a good life, letting light shine into our shadows.

One foot in front of another

Curve balls do come at you in life. At the point when things are comfortable, settled, like a well worn pair of shoes, something happens to trip you up and turn you over. Small or great, ‘something’ provokes, challenges or downright wears you to the bone.
Nobody is born with a repair manual. As we move forward through time, we have to write our own largely unedited version. We can navigate back to a better path home, by luck or hard graft, but often only with the right help.
One of our richest assets, as humammals, is to articulate thought, feelings and sensibilities and to share them with others, to learn from one another.
I have always had a passion for nature, the wilder things. Explorations by gentle stick prodding, observation, walking, reading, science, visual art, architecture, poetry and increasingly in studying philosophy and ethics. These are new adventures in affirming my own relationship with nature, to all of Earth’s biota. To life itself.
After a particularly striking curveball in 2008, the suicide of someone most dear to me, I picked up my camera, returned from a photo desert and began to see the world just a little differently. From dark to light. Clicking the buttons, inching forward, regaining confidence, sharing my discoveries in nature with others in small corners of the web that are Flickr, Twitter. Over the past three years, opening up a little more, 140 characters at a time, even selling some images.
Much learned and hope of more to come.
Now this, 1st January 2014, to explore a little more of that nature connection through prose. It ought to be said, this will be neither my life manual nor something complete (as we are never complete). Simply one foot in front of the other….Image

“Those who cont…

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
― Rachel Carson, Silent Spring