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.
Why does everything happen at the same time? Or as is happening now, it is one thing after another. Little minor health things and other little things to do with everyday living are building up one after the other. It seems that there is never a gap between each thing that happens and they just follow one another before you have fully recovered from the first one. And somehow I have to fit in the everyday chores of living, cleaning, washing and cooking, etc. But this is a sign of our chaotic world I suppose. Even the weather is chaotic and not normal for the time of the year.
So how do we cope with this kind of thing? Going with the flow was always something I advocated but now even the flow is turbulent so I am not sure I want to just go with it. What I decided to do in the end was to sit back for a few moments and think of ways of calming or taking my mind off what was going on. Music is good for me and I love to listen to it all day. I have my favourite music as well, some of which can be very inspiring but is not necessarily the right kind of music to calm me down.
Again I like to read but some fiction can be relaxing while other fiction can be just the opposite and have you wondering what is going to happen next in the story. I have started painting again which I do find relaxing and takes my mind off other things too but inspiring music is good for this. I love the soaring music of Rachmaninov but I also love the soul searching music of Shostakovich as well. But neither of these are really calming although they do make me feel better.
Just sitting by the window and looking out on the garden is calming. I can watch the birds and butterflies which are still around and relax for a while. The simplest way to relax or calm down is to do some breathing exercises, taking deep breaths to slow everything down. You only need a couple of minutes and you can feel much calmer then.
I wonder how long this chaos will continue. Everything I read about it states that all will be well in the end and that all the hidden corruption and badness in the world will come to the surface to be healed and then we will learn to be who we are meant to be, compassionate, respectful, loving towards each other and helping each other to live a joyful and peaceful life. I hope I’m still around when this happens!
I love books and I am an avid reader. I much prefer to read a book than to watch the TV. So what kind of books do I read? I read all kinds of books, everyday feel good fiction for the evenings when I want to relax and more serious non-fiction for other times. I used to have a huge amount of books but had to ‘cull’ them when I downsized. Now I have more space so I have started buying books again. There is something about the smell of the paper that makes me want to read books.
One of my recent purchases is a book called ‘The Fall’ by Steve Taylor. I have only got through the first part so far but it is a very interesting read, for me at least. The sub title is ‘The insanity of the ego in Human History and the Dawning of a New Era.’ So far it has provoked a lot of thought. Why did humanity suddenly become ego oriented and get a hunger for material goods?
Ancient tribes had a great connection with nature and the land on which they lived. Some of them still do but the rest of us seem to have lost that connection, that feeling for the land beneath our feet and for all that lives on it. This morning the sunrise was stunningly beautiful and I felt so connected to it and the surrounding trees and land. I know I am not alone in this way of thinking but there are far too many people who have totally lost the connection with nature and are busy trying to destroy it and everything that lives on the earth. Do we really need more motorways and high speed trains? Why is it so important to get a journey to work a few minutes shorter? Why are we in such a hurry? Do we need more airports so we can go abroad? What is wrong with taking a holiday in your own country?
I have been abroad several times and seen some stunning scenery and some ancient ruins where my ancestors lived but I do not need to keep going there or going somewhere hot to lie in the sun or as many do going to the beach and drinking far too much. There is so much around us that is beautiful. Watch the flowers open in the sun, the bees flying around collecting pollen and the other insects with their marvellous colours and diaphanous wings. To sit quietly in a park and listen to the birds singing is wonderful and so healing and refreshing too. Let’s encourage others to do the same.
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?
We are often told not to look back but to be ‘in the now’ or to look forward to the future. But there are various reasons why we can look back and times when it is good to look back.
I like to look back at my life journey so I can see what I have learned, or not learned as the case may be, so I can decide what I need to do next. I can reflect on my journey so far. I also like to look back in history to see how countries and people have changed over the centuries.
Looking back at my life can also bring to mind some wonderful memories, some which I have shared with others and some when I have made journeys alone. Yesterday I went out with my son and his partner to a local, wildflower farm. The sun was hot, the sky a clear blue, the flowers colourful and the butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies were out in abundance and stunningly beautiful. Tea and cake added to the day and it will be a day to remember when in years to come, I cannot get out to enjoy nature.
In my history/genealogy research, I am of course looking back, but I try to find out what life was like then, what people wore, and how they lived so that I am in a way bringing them alive. It enables me to see how much our world has changed in the last three or four hundred years.
So looking back for me is important. It enables me to make changes in the way I live my life and it also enables me to see how I do things differently than my ancestors. Do you look back and if so do you reflect on what you see? Does it help you to change the way you do things now? Does it help you to find out what is important in your life as it does in mine?
Here is one of the dragonflies from yesterdays memories.
Helping others is something I try to do. It can often be just a hug but hugs can mean a lot and do produce a response in the chemistry of the body making us feel better. I also try to be there for other when they need to talk. Sometimes talking to others about a problem can help you to see the problem more clearly and find a solution.
There are many other ways of helping others of course, most of which I am unable to do, such as offer to give someone a lift in your car to the shop or an event or you could offer to do some shopping for them.
Looking at this from the other side, as it were, I am often in need of help but being an independent type of person I am reluctant to ask for help. So if none is offered I try to manage on my own as best I can. For my trips to the art and craft club I use the volunteer car service (this is not free) and I am very grateful to those volunteer drivers.
There are times when I have to ask for help but I am always reluctant to do so. Is this because I don’t want to be refused? Or is it because I don’t want others to feel they have to help when they don’t really want to?
Asking for help and giving help can be a complicated situation but nowadays we seem to forget that help can be needed by others and are often reluctant to get involved. I have been lucky this week as I was offered a lift with the photography group to visit the bluebell woods. That gave me the opportunity to experience something I could not have done otherwise. The same friend also offered to fetch me a bag of compost for the garden. (If you read this Chris then many thanks again) This kind of help is important not just for me but for others who cannot get out to visit nature. Nature helps us so much enabling us to feel so much better.
I would love to read your thoughts on this topic.
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.
Despite the dreary weather and the onset of sciatic pain there has been a lot of good things happening this week some of which have brought me great joy. As usual after moving house there is always a lot of paperwork to do and this time has been no exception. I am still working on this as some change of address letters can only be done via the post.
I have bought myself a new mobility scooter which will be used a lot while I have this intense sciatic pain. The scooter will enable me to get out even if it is showery so I hope to get down to the country park soon which is not too far away.
I have managed to get all my new plants that were ready, planted in the garden where some of them shot up several centimetres the following day as they enjoyed the space around them. I still have about thirty plants in pots which are not yet ready for the garden itself.
My main joy has been sitting and watching the birds in the hedge, some of whom have built a large nest. I think this is the pair of blackbirds who are busy getting worms from the garden. One day a butterfly visited and I managed to get a photo through the window. It is not as clear as it would be had it been taken outside but it is quite a good photo anyway. At least I think so.
At six o’clock this morning the sun was shining but it has disappeared and there is a mist. It does look as if it will improve though and if it does I shall test my new scooter and head for the country park. But whatever the weather does I can enjoy watching the wild life through my windows. Nature heals as well as giving pleasure so I hope you all find time to enjoy being out there too.
I was thinking about cycles especially. The words from the song ‘Windmills of Your Mind’ were going round in my head which led to my thinking of cycles. We all know about the cycles of the seasons, the cycles of our lives and so on. But how many other cycles do we know of?
When I visited the local pond on Monday it was completely frozen over. When I went two days later, the weather was warmer, the sun was shining and the reflections in the water of the pond were extremely clear. Another kind of cycle. Water to ice and then back to water.
If we look around us we can see so many small cycles going on. The weekly cycle of days, the daily cycle of hours, day turning to night then turning to day and so on. One of the cycles in my life is a creative one. I am in the creative part now, busy writing a new book, but then there will be days when I rest and let my mind do other things before returning to the writing.
One thing I noticed is that circles are never ending but cycles can end. It depends how you look at them. Take our lives for example. We are born, become children, then teenagers, then young adults and then grown ups. Eventually we die and that is the end of our cycle unless you believe in reincarnation when your cycle of life begins again elsewhere.
For me the cycles within nature are the ones I love. I see the seeds falling on the ground then hibernating until the warmer weather comes. Then small shoots appear, then leaves and flowers and when the flowers die we get the seed pods which open and let the seeds fall to the ground and the whole cycle repeats. I love to watch this happening. At the moment the willows have their little furry buds and the hazel is showing off its catkins. Another cycle is ongoing.
How many cycles do you see going on at the same time? I can think of lots more but will leave it to you to think about.
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.