Behind the Glass

I have been in the house all week. The combination of a dislocated shoulder and days of snow and ice have kept me on the inside, looking out, behind the glass. For once I am not missing it, the outside. The fear of falling has made me glad to be indoors, and I have plenty to keep me occupied between Gaelic still to learn (since a language is something you can never reach the end of learning) and the internet to entertain and a stack of real, hard-copy books that’s part of my collection and intention to resume a reading habit.

Yet still something keeps on gnawing at me, some missing connection, some missing link, some meaningful sustained creative practice, some way to reach beyond the glass.

~~~

Friday morning, five past nine, I watch the birds through the living room window. The waters of the loch beyond are cold, a steely grey. Clouds drift above the water. As I watch, the clouds shift in colour, the edges tinged with the first hints of sunrise, as the morning starts to break behind the hill. The moment fills with hints of goldlight, edge of sunlight, the heart is full for just one moment with nothing but the rising of the morning.

Watching through the living room window, the headlights of my neighbour’s car creep slowly down the hill.

~~~

Fragment by fragment, I remind myself. Although for more than a long time I have wished that I could shape and mould these fragments of mine into form, into poems, into essays, into three lines even or the rhythm of 17 syllables they are resolute in their defiance and slip away if I chase them too hard. Perhaps that is all that there is for me, and perhaps that too is enough.

~~~

I take a photograph from the inside out. Picking up letters from the porch the light pulls me, demands I find my phone and take a photo, through the glass. I still don’t know why or what it is, this need to take photographs, even today stuck inside, taking pictures through the glass-glare, once again this magnetic desire: to click, to notice, to say thank you.

looking out

~~~

I have been feeding the birds by the door for fear of setting foot on the ice. I notice the pattern of their feeding on the ice, marking their time this week, and mine.

bird tracks

~~~

Reading this made me think about how we make connections online. Although the article’s about love, it reminded me, wistfully, of how much I used to believe in blogging as a human, democratic form, and the possibilities it offered us to forge connections, to stretch out our hands, to offer some small glimpse of our selves to others. Has that possibility really gone, or is still ours to claim?

~~~

More snow has fallen, soft and crunchy. The ice-fear reduces and I walk into the garden. The sun is falling through the shadows of the trees, I mean its branches, I mean here for a moment there is nothing but this meld of shadow tree and sunlight snow and a roll of winter’s memory.

Snowlight

~~

Perhaps this is my practice. Perhaps this place and space, this knowledge I have of how to link and mix together pictures and words, to piece together fragments, perhaps this act of blogging is of itself, for me, creative practice, no need for more.

~~~

Saturday morning, sunlit snow. Feeling stronger, fitter, brighter, braver and with someone else in the house during daytime hours in case I’m needing rescued I venture out at last, five minutes down the road. A snow path by the harbour. Sunlight glinting on snow. The sun is strong and the air delicious. The starlings are shouting with the love of it, their squawks like a serenade. I wish I could lie down on the snow path and take photo after photo of the way the light falls. It feels like Christmas morning, like New Year’s morning, like the first morning.

snow and shadow

6 January Haiku

a crow picking light
from yesterday’s chips,
this winter morning

soft tears again
for this unknown grief –
the silhouttes of crows

another long day
not finding the words –
blackbird song at dusk

dark green reeds
in the icegrey water
a duck ripples

across the river
in the dun coloured grasses
a white football

snowy morning –
the tails of three magpies
flicking sunlight

The Light of this Day

One of the biggest gifts of photography, for me, is that it teaches me to notice and appreciate the light.

The way it falls, the way it moves and changes, the way it throws shadows, and the way it illuminates.

I find when I try and think back on a year I am taken instead to particular days, particular places, particular moments – watching, and noticing the light.

Although we love to love the newness and promise of a brand new year, I will keep on learning to notice the look of this day, this place, here, now.

Have a very happy New Year when it comes!

What a Gift

Boots.

Ice grippers to stop me from falling.

A path from my door that leads to a nature reserve in a disused quarry.

Ten minutes walk, and no need to drive on ice.

Blue skies, and brilliant sunshine.

A camera that fits in my pocket.

It being Sunday morning.

The thickness of the frost, hanging on everything, tree branches, bulrushes, nettles, and everything drooping with its weight and glinting with its brilliance.

A path dipping through it, like entering a Christmas card.

An avenue of trees.

The aesthetic of winter.

Ice.

Sunshine.

Sunday.

Boots.

Wishing you all all the gifts of the season – especially the free sort

Caught By A Rainbow

The days in December have been dark, and wet. We haven’t had the inconvenience of ice and snow, and for this our commuting selves are grateful, but the absence of sunlight, of any kind of light, can get to you after a while, and leave you staring at the sky, and at the hour by hour weather forecasts, hoping for a break in the clouds.

I grabbed an hour or so the other week when the forecast looked auspicious, or passable at least, that fitted with the daylight hours, and other work and domestic plans. I had an hour, a whole hour, to head up the nearest hill, camera in hand, and breathe for a while.

As I climbed, you could see the break in the weather that I was enjoying. Although I was bathed momentarily in strong winter sunlight, across the other side of the river, huge dark clouds were looming, rolling and filling the skies.

A rainbow followed, cutting through the sky, arching across what sometimes feels like the whole of central Scotland from way up here, stretching out in front of you. I stood, transfixed by the rainbow straight ahead.

I have no picture to show you – I couldn’t catch it.

It caught me.

As I stood and watched, transfixed, a bird of prey flew across and stopped, and hovered.

For a few moments the sky was full.

For a few moments the sky and the world and the time were full.

There was nothing but this: the land stretched out ahead, the sleet showers looming, the arc of the rainbow, the hovering wings of a bird of prey.

And then the light changed, and the rainbow faded.

The bird flew on.

And in the aftermath I said a quiet thank you for the intensity of this moment, reflecting, picture-less, that this, this, is why I take photographs.

A Touch of Frost

The weather has been turning.

After weeks of gentle sunshine, autumn shook itself into winter with winds and rain.

Suddenly the trees are bare, silhouette gorgeous, and reminding me again how much I love the aesthetics of winter, if not the absence of light.

Yesterday we had a first scattering of snow, and the leaves and late flowers were touched at the edges with frost.

Out in the world, it’s hard not to feel like we’re in a winter season. Things can seem very dark.

It’s hard for any of us to make any sense of it. I don’t think there’s sense to be made of it.

It often feels discordant to keep focusing on beauty, on the soft loveliness of the world in the face of such harshness, such darkness, but also wrong to stop, and an affirmation of something important to keep saying otherwise.

The Edge of the Flowers

The early autumn here has been beautiful, weeks and weeks it feels like of dry sunny weather, and all the light we didn’t get in the summer. Warm too – last Sunday, the first of November, I was picnicking on the side of a hill in jeans and t-shirt!

I confess though, there’s something about the damp and misty days that draws me in, that lets you be in a different kind of way. Back down at the shore again in the middle of this week the other side had disappeared once more, and everything was drippy, damp.

There were only a couple of lone figures out, walking dogs or like me catching the sounds and patterns of the wading birds out on the mud flats, half there and half not as they drifted in and out of the mist.

There’s no pressure to do anything on a day like this at a place like this, not to enjoy, not to take photographs, not to be impressed or to impress, just be, half there and half not, like the birds.

Even with the dull light and the dampness there were still a few flowers dancing at the edge, and I couldn’t help but admire their torn and tearing softness, muted, like the tones of the day.

6 Winter American Sentences

wild red streaks on a pastel sky hang over Lidl, for the bagels

wind biting down by the river sunlight on the wing tips of a gull

mud frozen hard the path a cloud of steam rising round an old man’s head

across the street blue xmas lights flash a moth in the slats of the blind

his eyes droop against the way the rain runs down the window, morning train

too cold for sketching the line of oystercatchers suddenly rising

Painted Sky

If your heart was sore, heart weary,

if your eyes were filling with the tears of the day,

with the shadows of grief still flitting around you:

I would paint you a sky.

I would dip my brush in a palette of reds:

just a hint, just a tint, just a streak on the horizon,

a brightening, a sun stroke,

a sliver of burnished gold.

I would place the buzzard waiting,

the perfect silhouette of strong, courageous heart,

outlined, unmissable, against this red painted sky.

I would set the skies rolling in clouds tinged with purple,

moving soft across this most beautiful garden of Galloway,

I would let the oystercatcher fly on the last stretch home

the final turn of the road,

the last breath of your heart,

so you’d know it was sent

straight from me.

If your heart was sore, love:

I’d paint you the sky.