Officially we are now in the winter season. I have noticed how the trees stand proud against the skyline with their bare branches. I see my hedge getting much thinner with large spaces so I can see through into the garden of my neighbour. The birds are still there but keep hopping out to feed on the conveniently placed feeder. I love the days when the sky is clear and the sun is shining. There is something special about the winter sky and the landscape around us.
But winter also has a special meaning for me It is the time when I take stock of what the year has brought me and look at how I have dealt with it. There has been a lot of sadness and grief this year and that has been hard to deal with but getting out occasionally amongst the trees has helped enormously. I have also looked at what I have achieved or not achieved as might be the case with some things. Are there lessons to be learned from this and can I do better next year. I find the winter months with the shorter days gives me more time to contemplate what has gone and what is to come in the future. I can do the stuff that I have put on one side while I have been enjoying the summer times. I can unpack the boxes still left to do since I moved earlier in the year. Maybe I will find the items I have spent hours looking for but still not found!
I also stock up on food just in case I cannot get out. I am old enough to remember the years of heavy snowfall when nothing stirred so make sure I will be OK if anything like a heavy snowfall arrives and stays with us. But most of all I am looking forward to the Winter Solstice, now in less than three weeks time, when the light returns and the hours of daylight start to lengthen. I have lots of new things I want to try next year so I shall start planning them now, making sure I will have everything I need to do these things.
So a time for contemplation, planning and enjoyment is what winter brings to me.
It has been a long hot dry summer but the last couple of weeks have brought us some rain which has been very good for the garden. One day last week I opened the door, as I do every day, to let in the fresh air and to give thanks for all around me. This particular morning was different than the previous ones. It was cooler and fresher but there was also a distinctive feel and smell of the coming autumn. It’s not something I find easy to put into words but the feel and smell is something I recognise and know that autumn is on its way.
Looking back at the days of summer I see lots of flowers, their wonderful colours still there for the coming days. I noticed the number of birds too. I have a large thick hedge at the top of my garden and it has been home to several broods of birds, blackbirds, sparrows and robins. It has been a wonderful experience to watch them grow into adult birds. This last week a sparrowhawk visited as well. Luckily all the smaller birds were safe in the hedge and surrounding bushes.
I have also noticed the large number of bees visiting the flowers. But many of the flowers are there specifically for that purpose, to attract the bees. There are not so many now but they are still coming finding other plants attractive when their favourite ones have finished flowering.
There has been a large number of different butterflies visiting the flowers especially the buddleias which are commonly known as butterfly bushes. I have also seen damselflies and dragonflies whizzing around the garden but not often settling for photos! The plum tree and the brambles (which are not really wanted as they stop other plants from growing) have done exceptionally well and I have lots of fruit in my freezer. There were so many plums that I have been giving them to neighbours. Someone said it must be the fifth year as you get an abundant crop every five years.
But what I have noticed the most is the abundance of everything. There has been wonderful colour, and food for everything that comes into the garden, and watching the birds trying to get the blackberries and plums has been entertaining at times.
So now the season is changing and there will be different things to watch and to do as well. But my main thought at this point in time is ‘Abundance!’
The other day I heard someone say that they didn’t generally get out and look at things. But do we not always look at things and not go out especially to do that? Maybe not. My thoughts at the time were about missing so much of what is out there around us. But then again I generally walk everywhere or use a mobility scooter as I do not drive.
So let’s look at what I see when I walk into town. I live on a hill which helps me to see much more of the town below me and the far distance. Generally I first notice the parked cars and people walking to work or school. Then I notice the flowers in the gardens as I pass by. I see that some are blooming now but last time I went past they were only in bud. I see the bees and the butterflies taking advantage of these flowers. In the distance I see the church and other tall buildings and in the far distance I can see the tops of houses and some trees. I cross the road and walk down the hill by the side of the cattle market complex. There are lots of shrubs by the wall of the building which houses the sheep and some of these shrubs have flowers. So there are lots of bees around. There are also many small birds which have most likely nested in the top of the building which has open sides. They chitter chatter as I walk past. There is a lot of traffic with many cars having loud music going on and also many people are walking. I wonder if they see what I see. I hear the sounds of the sheep and the cattle as they are put into pens ready to be sold. Now I am ready to cross another road into the town itself and my walk there has been full of interesting sights and sounds.
So here is another example. One day I was sitting in the town park watching the ducks with their tiny offspring on the pond. The ducklings were busy exploring the plants on the pond and then when they were tired they came out and curled up to sleep at the side in the bushes. There were also moorhens with their youngsters but they seemed to prefer a different part of the pond. The gentle breeze made the branches of the trees move and rustle and birds flitted amongst them. There were ripples on the pond caused by the ducks and moorhens as they swam around. I occasionally caught sight of a few damselflies and butterflies too. Across the other side of the pond a man was sleeping on a bench. While I was there he got up and walked away. I could hear the traffic on the main road but it did not really disturb the peace of the pond.
There are so many people who walk around and do not see what is around them. They never look up or down for that matter and often have a mobile phone by their ear. What a lot they are missing!
What do you see?
The sun is shining and it is quite warm. It makes me feel so much better. This week I have watched a family of plump baby blackbirds learn to feed themselves getting worms out of the ground and now they have flown off to make new lives for themselves. As blackbirds have more than one brood I suspect the parents are now getting ready for the next brood.
I have also seen a pair of goldcrests which look as if they are nesting close by. They come into the garden several times a day. And there are many butterflies including some orange tipped ones.
There are also lots of other garden birds too and plenty of insects of various kinds. A question posed by my son yesterday has made me do some thinking. How do the butterflies know which plant to lay their eggs on. Some butterflies only lay their eggs on specific plants so how do they know they have the right plant? The more I look at the natural world around me the more I am amazed by it and the more I realise that I don’t know about it.
I’ve also seen quite a few bees which is good. I am trying to make my garden friendly for bees and other insects but it is going to be a long job as I am limited in how long I can work in the garden at one time. But at least I have the joy of sitting and watching what is going on in the garden and that makes me feel very blessed.
The sun has been shining and I am sure that makes us all feel better. I certainly do and getting out in the country park has helped as well. Planned visits to the doctors have also brought me what I needed, an injection in my wrist next week to help me cope with the arthritis which makes writing and doing anything in the home difficult. So all good overall.
Yesterday was spent in the garden with my son, mowing the grass and planting more plants. A walk in the country park followed, me on my scooter though but still very enjoyable.
I have watched the hedge get greener over the last week and it is now almost completely green. The birds are busy chasing each other and building nests. There are butterflies too, small tortoiseshells and some white ones that might just be female orange tips. While cutting the grass a frog jumped out. He had a lucky escape but the area where he was is very marshy and in fact was almost a pond. My son saw a grass snake in the country park and the trees there are in full blossom like the one in my garden.
It is a wonderful time of the year when nature awakes and starts to show us her glory. I feel so blessed to be in this new home and to be able to enjoy it as well. Being in nature is so nurturing and revitalises my soul. I hope you enjoy being in nature as much as I do. Today will be a lazier day but I shall spend time watching the birds and butterflies in the garden and enjoying doing just that. The simple pleasures in life are often the best.
We had the first snow of the coming winter the other day. I woke up to a covering of white but it soon disappeared although there were flurries of snow during the day. There has been a lot of rain too and everywhere is wet underfoot which makes walking difficult for me where there are lots of wet leaves. Today I walked with a friend to Ford Green Hall a beautiful old mansion. There was a Christmas Craft Fair there today and it was very busy. We walked both ways and enjoyed the damp trees and misty landscape.
Outside my window the trees are almost bare of leaves and I can now see the many different birds sitting on the branches before using the bird feeder. This is giving me an opportunity to take photos of the birds again as I could not see them before because of the leaves. I love to see the trees now when you see their shape better and the way the branches grow out from the trunk. There is something special about them now and when the frosty days and nights are here too. On the nature reserve there are many different birds now as well as those that have been hidden amongst the leaves. There is always something to see and notice when you take a walk however short the walk. I walked back from the hospital the other day and the sky was clear. It is downhill most of the way but quite steep in places but is less than a mile to walk. I stopped and admired the view over lots of houses where there used to be fields but in the distance the moorland beckoned.
The approach to Christmas seems to start earlier every year. As a druid I should not really celebrate this festival but celebrate the Winter Solstice and Yule instead. However I like to celebrate them all but more of that to come in a blog next month. The photo is of Ford Green Hall taken in the rain this morning. I could not avoid the tree as the grass was too wet to walk on.
What a change in the weather this week. Not only has it been very wet but it has gone much colder. The leaves are changing colour rapidly and trees are now less leafy so you can see the birds better. There are blue tits using the new bird feeder and I hope to see many more during the coming colder months. There are more ducks on the pond although three of them flew off this morning! But I love going up to the pond in the early morning if I can. This morning though, for the first time I could hear the drone of traffic. This could be because of the wind direction and also because there are less leaves on the trees to absorb the sound. I noticed too the spiders webs this morning as they glistened in the aftermath of the last rain shower.
Some of you might know that I am a cycling fan and this week I can only sit and admire the feats of one particular cyclist. He has won the Tour de France several times now and this year has gone on to win La Vuelta, the first man to do so since the Vuelta changed places in the cycling calendar around 1995. He is an unassuming man but works hard to do what he does and always thanks his team for their support as without them he could not do what he does. I am writing about Chris Froome of course and I do wonder what challenge he will find next. He also took the time to learn to speak French and is then able to have conversations with notable people in the race management. In public he is always polite and does not have the quirky character that some other cyclists have which means that often the British public do not like him very much despite his achievements. I find this rather sad that we cannot look beyond what we see on the surface.
This applies to other things and people as well. Many of those who are in constant pain always say they are fine when they are not really fine as they don’t want to be pitied by others. Is this a British trait or do other nations have the same kind of feelings? I know I’m just as bad as often when asked if I am OK I will respond with a yes even though I might be feeling unwell.
So a mixed bag of things this week. Are you seeing and feeling the changing of the seasons? Do you see beyond the face value of things?