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Down Under

by wilvir

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"Take only memories, leave nothing but footprints"

Chief Seattle (1786–1866) leader of the Suquamish and Duwamish Native American tribes

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Between the Rain

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15th Nov 2015, 00:24   comments (6)

A Tree and Me

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1. A giant of a tree.
2. My Blackthorn walking stick in comparison.
3. Making my way home.

A solitary Coastal Redwood stands majestic, sentry like, soaring to over one hundred feet above and amongst a once ornamental mixed woodland now heavy with aged trees, all vying for the sunlight that sweeps across the leafy canopy, lower saplings eager to rise up to join them.

Much of this wood has been left to its own devices, pollarding long forgotten, hardly managed at all, with windfall left to rot where it falls, discarded, ignored, an untidy haphazard resting place excused as a natural habitat, an economic liability, rather than managed by a woodman aware and proud of his heritage who would have logged any windfall for the benefit of the estate and it's workers.

This sadly forgotten redwood, capable of growing well in excess of three hundred feet and living for more than two thousand years in its native America, is crowded by lesser, parasitic, trees seeking its support; leaning, rubbing, damaging this giant of trees as it stands firm against winds other trees struggle to contend with. This tree, once chosen, planted and admired for its extravagance of colour and height, is deserving of care.

I ponder; contemplate freeing it; to leave it growing unmolested, vowing to return at a later date with saw and axe to drop the lesser wood alongside this wonder of nature.

Examples of longevity, of the passage of time, always leave me well aware of my own fragility and what little influence I have to protect the world I live in. I love that this tree is older and will live longer than me. To ponder who and what may have passed through its shadow leaves me with no fear of my own transitory passing. The memory of a sunset, a dawn, a season, a landscape, a seascape, a starscape, a birdsong, a murmuration of starlings, a relationship, a melody, a rainbow, a far flung corner of the planet, all this and more fills me with contentment, a reminder that I have known and experienced much of this world I live in. And all this from a chance meeting and almost mystical empathy with a tree. I'm humbled.
2nd Nov 2015, 15:09   comments (0)

A Haunt of Kings

(viewed 496 times)
In these recent weeks of deepening Autumn, the almost imperceptible deftness and beauty of nature's feathered master Fisher is being revealed.

The leafy overhanging camouflage of the riverbank falls away to expose almost impossibly slim perches from where this little bird measures the impending success or failure of its endeavours before surprising it's quarry with a dive and strike of the utmost accuracy, rising triumphantly with its catch to dispatch it on a favourite bough.

The blue flash of his feathered tunic is reward enough as this little wonder flits from perch to perch, his call strident as he makes his presence known to peers that would poach his territory. These little anglers, four in all, have appeared everyday on this stretch of river. At float tip height, a pair fly-by beneath my rod resting on the bow gunwale, their agility astounding. A rare sight indeed, the reward of my own unhurried presence and angling patience.

Throughout my stay, they appeared to grow in confidence, buzzing the boat daily like two miniature F16 Fighting Falcons from the USAF Thunderbird Air Demonstration Team. I'll miss their antics here when I move on.
16th Oct 2015, 14:01   comments (0)

Birds and Berries

(viewed 521 times)
1. Berry Platter.
2. Guelder Rose.
3. Haws.
4. Ivy.

Blackbird, ever catholic in taste,
Has no need to feast in haste,
Rosehip, Elder, Dogwood, Sloe,
Buckthorn, Holly, Yew to go,
Yet Haws are his Berry of choice, 
All keeping him superb of voice. 

Song Thrush prefer Elder, Yew or Sloes,
Rosehip avoided in favour of Guelder Rose,
Mistle Thrush choose sloe to haw,
Redwing, Fieldfare, find the sloe a bore,
And prefer instead the humble Haw.

Blackbird, Fieldfare, Mistle Thrush,
Being larger and more robust,
Are left the Rosehip by Redwing and Song Thrush,
When seasonal choice is less for the trying,
Ivy and Holly become the thing, 
Though Holly less so, surviving until near Spring.
12th Oct 2015, 12:08   comments (0)

Peace of Weather, Peace of Mind

1. Shoulder to shoulder.
2. A leaning oak.
3. Ever changing hues.
4. Heavy dew lies frost-like in the shadows.
5. Nature's baubles.
6. Heading into the river valley and home.
7. Leaves almost shed.

Recent Autumn mornings have heralded the best of days, with lasting shadows, cast by a bright sun, loitering near the horizon far into the morning.

The eye is drawn to the hues of Autumn like no other season can, attracted to all that nature is baring as she prepares for the long nights coming. The early chill and smoky damp air lifts sedately as the warmth of the sun unveils the stillness of the river and my home gently leaning on her fenders, as if resting against the riverbank.

Photos bear witness to my early morning walks like nothing else can, my words seemingly inadequate, lacking the emotion I feel as nature plays out before me. The call of a Kingfisher, as yet unseen, attracts my attention, the splash of its near assured success further focusing my eye to its whereabouts. A pair of Grebe drift by, a pair of haughty swans too, looking somewhat put out by the near ornamental splendour of two mandarin ducks seeking a handout as I pass by.

Above the river, atop the valley, the distant horizon stretches away east and west, blurred by a haze of mist. The warmth of the sun encourages migrating birds to dally rather than fly south, risking the reserves they have stored for their energy sapping flights to the African continent. I silently wish these natural migrants a safe journey as they cross lands populated by outdated hunters who shoot them down as they fly low seeking refreshment to sustain them for the next leg of their trip. I have seen this with my own eyes while living in the Mediterranean, and to see flocks of tiny songbirds shredded by shotgun salvos and desperately flapping their last in the dust far from home was, and still is, a crying shame.

Grey squirrels flit amongst the branches overhead, acorns 'plopping' into the marginal waterside as they seek to gather more, squabbling amongst themselves as they drive off trespassers 'scrumping' their territory.

This is my time of year from here on in, and as more and more people are less inclined to walk any distance as the nights draw in, I am left relieved, to wander alone with Gunner and live on my terms, life's last adventure drawing me on.

If I sound dismissive of others, it's because Gunner was attacked by another dog this morning, which, still on its lead, I had to prise from Gunners throat. Fortunately Gunner is only bruised and I hope otherwise unharmed, but very subdued by the experience, as am I.
9th Oct 2015, 14:12   comments (0)

October Oooos

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2nd Oct 2015, 10:54   comments (0)

A September Shaggy

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25th Sep 2015, 12:09   comments (0)

A Favourite of the Blackbird

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25th Sep 2015, 11:43   comments (0)