Back from another extended break from blogging. Where have I been? What have I been up to? Well, I’ve been thinking, walking – the two aren’t mutually exclusive, are they? – reading and taking a much closer interest in politics than I have in many years. You’ll notice that writing is conspicuous by its absence.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to offload my politics here, but I will let you know what I’ve been reading of late. Francis Wheen’s excellent ‘How Mumbo Jumbo Conquered the World’, followed closely by Helen MacDonald’s beautifully written, and thoroughly deserved Costa prize winner, ‘H is for Hawk’.
So you see, my thinking time has largely centred around the wider world and its workings, but it’s also been sharply focused on the landscape, and specifically my immediate landscape. I’ve found myself drawn closer and closer to it, experimenting with a simple iPhone camera and free editing and effects apps, in an attempt to record my impressions. More than that, my feelings, my love affair with the terrain and how it holds and releases the seasons, absorbs and resists the weather, tolerates the footfall of man and beast.
Words are often inadequate when describing what I see. On the drive home, last Sunday, from where the road is elevated before the descent towards our village, a block of slate cloud was hanging in the western sky. Its lower edge was fusing and sparkling like a freshly lit touchpaper. That’s how I’ll remember it, but I suspect the phenomenon has been distilled into a single word. If that’s so, I feel a need to know what it is. Perhaps it’ll appear in the new Robert MacFarlane book that I’ve ordered. Landmarks promises to be a treasure.
Mags and I have also celebrated our 41st anniversary, this week. We treated ourselves to this wonderful piece of work by local artist, Deb Boultwood. Appropriately, it’s entitled ‘Black Winter Crows’. I wrote a short verse, some weeks back. It seems to sit nicely with the artwork.
And when at last, the cloud gives way,
the rooks tilt feathers, black as night,
to mark the sleeping stars of day,
the reservoirs of long dead light.