Sunday, 30 June 2013

Your happy memories 06/30 | Blog Talk Radio

The topic this Sunday: Does God exist? You can have a listen to the archived show here:

Your happy memories 06/30 | Blog Talk Radio

How to make a bird bath, part 2

This morning a mama blue tit was feeding her baby (who is the same size as her!) just outside my kitchen window. (I put out suet balls for the birdies and every morning can watch them as I eat my porridge.) After feeding her little one, mama had a wash. Here she is having a bit of 'me time'. The blue tits are cheeky little birds- when their suet balls run out they knock on this window rather loudly!

Photos copyright SvD.

Sounds of nature

This is a video I made of birdsong at dusk in the woods near my home as I was walking the hound.  I was captivated by the songs the birds were singing to each other at the end of another day. I can recognise the blackbirds but not the others. Be sure to turn up the sound on your computer. Enjoy!

Birdsong at dusk

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Things I saw in the woods today, part 33

More of the secret language of trees...


And a pretty flower with heart shaped leaf:

Photos copyright SvD.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Would smell as sweet.

I am a great lover of roses. The rose to me embodies beauty, desire, the soul of the 'esthete', perfume and seduction. I possess a trivial nature where beauty is concerned and I cannot change who I am (at my long tooth age that would be impossible). One of my greatest joys is growing perfumed roses- for that one moment where I place my nose as close as I can to the mature rose and inhale. In my garden are roses that smell of Pernod ("Cymbeline") to roses that smell of Heaven ("Cardinal de Richelieu"). If a rose has no perfume it will seldom find a home in my garden - that is the only criterion that matters to me.

This particular rose is the most fragrant and the sight of it is pure yearning. I see today that one of its flowers has two hearts- two swirls inside a single bud. How unusual! And something I have never seen before.

Lose yourselves, dear reader, inside the image that has no beginning and no end.

Below is a photo I took of the same rosebush some years ago and which remains not only a favourite photo but one that is so evocative I seldom can look at it without losing myself completely.

Photo copyright SvD.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Perigee moon

This is the moon tonight- slightly off schedule as a perigee moon but oh my, it seems to be an orange in the sky. I 've had a s...y day - full of self doubt and frustration work-wise. If the moon is to blame, I shall be very annoyed (some say it is and I should be). There is still time to start howling....

 Photo copyright SvD.

Things I saw in the woods today, part 32

More of the secret language of trees....
Photos copyright SvD

Mighty oak

Scots fir

Monday, 24 June 2013

Things I saw in the woods today, part 31

Here is a horse fly biting me. The fly sends out a needle-like mandible that pierces the skin and hurts like hell. The fly can remain attached to one's person for quite a while as it sucks one's blood. The female does all the biting as the male can't and she also needs a blood meal in order to reproduce.  I took the photo despite the pain so you could see - for those of you in cities who are removed from the natural world. The woods are buzzing with these horrid creatures at the moment but I am told they are good pollinators so necessary.

Horse fly chomping on one's leg

This ear of grass seeds is quite beautiful in its symmetry.  Hay fever sufferers have really had a terrible time this year- the number of seeds must be in the billions in a single meadow. Wild grasses resemble wheat, rye and barley in the way their seeds are stored in ears that are all similar in shape and size. We do have a wild rye here in the UK from which cultivated rye is descended.

Ear of grass

Wild strawberries grow very low to the ground in the woods and are easily trampled upon. They are ripening slowly in our cold weather but nonetheless have a good flavour. I ate a few- sweet and very strong strawberry taste unlike the shop-bought variety. Wild strawberries make a lovely syllabub or ice cream. This is the first wild fruit to ripen and is usually a sign that summer has begun. Wimbledon starts at the same time where strawberries and cream are a traditional treat washed down with champagne (which doesn't grow in the woods).

Wild strawberry

And finally, on the way home from the woods I saw Bambi in someone's driveway. Lucky for me, the hound is very peace-and-love and doesn't attack wild animals. (Our hounds do not need to be on leads which I believe is not the case in the US. Hence the reason mine roams around unfettered.) Bambi sat perfectly still as the hound and I watched and didn't even flinch when I took the photo.


Photos copyright SvD.

The colour yellow

Yellow is 'a colour capable of charming God'. Vincent van Gogh (from his letters to his brother Theo) and symbolised perhaps in his Sunflowers.

In our very cold summer I am delighted to see this yellow flower, with feeding bee, which at least reminds me of the sun!

'To the ancient Egyptians, the honeybee was the creature that transformed the warmth of the sun's rays into golden sweetness.' (Reflections on Archetypal Images, Taschen)

Photo copyright SvD.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Friday, 21 June 2013

The season for lovin' is over

A certain well known radio presenter mentioned on his show this morning that the birds were busy 'at it' hence the reason they were chirping so loudly these days. The birds finished being 'at it' months ago- in fact, their time is early/late spring. The wild flowers too are finished- all the seeds are already deeply underfoot or being propelled by the winds far from their original home (or mostly getting up my nose). Our season for loving was very short and sweet this year. And when it's gone, it is gone. Always make the most of every second count.

Photo copyright SvD.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Dirty, pretty thing

The inside of a peony in the sunlight is a captivating sight. When the sun shines, the world suddenly appears it did today with this shot in my garden.

Photo copyright SvD.

Things I saw in the woods today, part 30

The seed escapes from its protective sheath, leaving one clue: a gaping hole where it once nestled in anticipation.  How apt that the message the seed leaves behind is infinity.

Photo copyright SvD.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Things I saw in the woods today, part 29

I often refer to the magpie as the Darth Vader of the wild birds- he is aggressive, heartless, ruthless and has been known to chase hares and kill lambs (for food). Imagine my surprise to learn that the magpie is also highly intelligent and can be taught to speak: '...if taken young, they learn to perform many words and perform various tricks.' (The Rev. F.O Morris, British Birds, 1850). This feather is definitely his. I won't wax lyrical of the symmetry of the markings of a bird's feathers but you know what I mean...I see God everywhere.
The hungry bee looks to be hoovering up the nectar from this cowslip as fast as he can. I have noticed a definite correlation between the sun appearing and the bees feeding.

This last photo is of the Early Purple Orchis (sic), the commonest of our native orchids in the British Isles.

'There is a legend which has it that this plant grew at the foot of the Cross and received drops of blood on its leaves: hence the purple spots on the leaves! Another superstition declares that the plant grows in greatest luxuriance where there are rich deposits of metal deep in the earth.' (A Pocket Book of British Wild Flowers , Charles A. Hall, 1937)

Photos copyright SvD.

Monday, 17 June 2013

It must be love, love, love

I came across these two love birds, or rather, love snails, yesterday in my log store. To my astonishment they are still at it today! I sincerely hope they are not trying to to kill each other or overdo the 'lurv' thing. I picked them up and they didn't move. I think they are out of it. In some sort of love coma. Or maybe they did overdo it and now at the pearly gates, arriving as Siamese twins. St. Peter has seen it all, I tell you.  I have no idea!

No crude jokes, please.

Day 4 and the love fest is finally over. Imagine my surprise to see them still alive this morning! The distance between them is striking but why are they not moving?

Photo copyright SvD.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Things I saw in the woods today, part 28

The flowers of the wild garlic mustard have turned to pods, each containing dozens of seeds. The pods will dry on the plant and by the autumn will be ready to be harvested and their precious cargo disgorged.
Garlic mustard
Our rare sun lands on a daisy and it becomes positively blinding. The daisy is a favourite flower for many and it's not hard to see why."He loves me, he loves me not..."
Daisy boo
These are cheats: the honeysuckle was on the way to the woods and so too was this beautiful purple rose- the first rose of  the season. Roses traditionally flower in mid-May so you can see we are clearly more than a few weeks late! Neither of these lovely flowers is wild but I hope you will enjoy looking at them. The honeysuckle smelled so sweet although when I inhaled, a few insects made their way up my nose too....The rose is surely a briar rose and the colour is quite unusual and not one I have seen before.
Purple rose
Photos copyright SvD.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Your happy memories 06/16 | Blog Talk Radio

Toutes les passions s'eteignent avec l'age; l'amour propre ne meurt jamais. All the passions are extinguished with old age; self-love dies never. - Voltaire. Love and other myths. Tomorrow on:

Your happy memories 06/16 | Blog Talk Radio

Friday, 14 June 2013

Things I saw in the woods today, part 27

Human beings have an incredible ability to convince themselves of anything. It is all the rage for totally rational people to be allergic to everything these days, not least themselves. And the most unhealthy and overweight frequently ignore their own reality. The body is made up of 'pipes' which need to be cleaned out. Quite simply, if we don't move enough, the pipes get clogged up. The outcome of not moving sufficiently and remaining in a state of inertia (mentally, physically and metaphorically speaking) is usually this:

Gathering moss

A strange formation on the raised root of an old beech tree. Looks weird!

I have never seen so many seeds as this literally carpeting the ground in the woods.

Photos copyright SvD.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Things I saw in the woods today, part 26

I first purchased a book about European trees maybe 15 years ago. Every tree is different with a distinct personality. My favourite tree is possibly the oak: strong, rugged, mysterious and ancient. Oaks line our country lanes and stand as sentinels, watching over us. The oak is a powerful-looking tree, say, compared to the ash which is more wispy and delicate to look at. The silver birch is quite fragile and has an annoying habit of rotting from within- no wonder it is the emblem of a certain political party here in the UK. The yew is another historical tree and one that can live for literally thousands of  years. The yew is traditionally planted in cemeteries in this country as it symbolises everlasting life, immortality, and rebirth. The yew's history is also very dark as its leaves and berries are deadly poisonous.The barks of all these trees are distinct and speak their own language. Have a look and see what I mean.


Scots fir

Silver birch

Photos copyright SvD.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

The love of my life... quite simply France. No words, no explanations, no eloquent speech about how much the language, culture and place speaks to my heart.

Just a photo of some irises growing along the roadside.

Says everything, really,

Photo copyright SvD.

You make me feel like dancing....

Here's a Canada Goose getting all excited at seeing me. In France.

Photo copyright SvD.

Monday, 10 June 2013

All that there is

There is one element in our lives that remains the elusive, the memorable and the joyful purpose. Sometimes we find and lose it. Sometimes we hanker for it. Sometimes we wait for it. Sometimes we give up entirely. And then when we see it, we recognise it instantly.

 Photo copyright SvD.

Stairway to heaven

These steps in the woods are notorious. Known as the Hundred Steps (98, to be exact) they are extremely steep and the handrail is so wobbly, well, I wouldn't bother to even hold on to it. The dog walkers know to avoid these steps when it rains as a tumble down will surely result in something broken. There is a gentleman who walks his very small hound and who I see occasionally. He has Parkinsons Disease and his doctor encouraged him to walk as much as possible as it lessens the effects of that terrible illness (of which my own papa died). I've often remonstrated with the gentleman for going down those steps- it's a lonely spot and if he falls he could be lost for quite a while. I think he has some sort of 'que sera' attitude where when one gets to his stage in nearing the pearly gates, it doesn't matter all that much what happens anymore. I saw him again a few days ago- the disease has taken a strong hold and he's lost the ability to swallow, his clothes were unkempt, he hadn't shaved. But he's still walking with his little dog. And still taking his chances with that stairway to the next phase.

Photo copyright SvD.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Birds don't worry

There is something in the Bible about God providing for the birds despite their doing nothing to sow or reap their food, yet it is always provided for them. The story comes to mind as a good friend is always mentioning it when she peeks into her bank account (and then shrieks). I was at a luncheon the other day with some very well-off folk (or seemingly) and one gentleman said he never looks at his bank balance because he would get too depressed.  And this despite a sumptuous lifestyle.

I actually require very little and hanker for a pared-down and really simple existence. There was a time I had thousands of pounds worth of diamond jewellery and never looked at my bank account because I didn't need to. Money is an insidious thing- it ruins lives, it damages relationships and it brings out the worst in people. And it really doesn't make you happy - that remains the one thing that money simply cannot buy. Some of the most contented moments in my life involve wandering in nature and communing with the gods/spirits/myself.

In the woods today, the birds were spoiled for choice. The season of flowers is over and the seeds have been scattered to fall where they may. The ground in the woods is literally carpeted with seeds. Not all of these will become strong, strapping trees- many will end up as food for the birds.

Photos copyright SvD.

Modern art = a great place to sink loads of cash

"This canvas of blue represents the infinite and the silence within one's soul. The world-famous artist has sought to depict the state of inner peace deep inside the sanctity of her very being. Critics have hailed this depiction of the artist's hard-won victory over a tormented childhood, many, many tormented love affairs, a tormented relationship with her parents, a tormented marriage, and being tormented by her offspring since their births.  The canvas sold for £1trillion at auction after frenetic bidding and almost £900billion above the reserve. The anonymous buyer has not as yet been identified. Just who is the lucky new owner of what critics have called 'a gargantuan masterpiece'?"

(It's actually a photo I took of the sky today.)

Photo copyright SvD.

Friday, 7 June 2013

A work of art

The hound was turning into a bronze statue today in the sun...(Labs dislike the heat intensely as they are snow dogs).

Photos copyright SvD.

Things I saw in the woods today, part 25

This is the first fruit of the year- a damson. Spring has now accomplished what she had planned and has left to continue her journey. Summer is in full swing and until Autumn arrives, takes her place as  the queen who must be obeyed.

There are many pathways throughout the woods and this one is favoured by the horses who gallop along oblivious to the rest of us- or rather their owners are. If a horse comes galloping along, the correct course of action is to fling oneself into the undergrowth usually only with seconds to spare. Horses' legs are particularly deadly and can kill a hound outright. My hound knows the dangers and permits me to scream at him and pull him out of the way of the marauding horsey.  This path is lined with cow parsley- if you recall, identical to the deadly hemlock. Here is the cow parsley flowering in all its glory. Paths always lead somewhere- in this case to a pretty meadow.

Photos copyright SvD.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Strange objects in the sky

Here's me playing with a UFO (ha, ha).
It's actually the seed of the maple tree.

Photo copyright SvD.