Ifield Millpond in Winter

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I walked round Ifield Millpond yesterday. It was a beautiful, cold, crisp, winter morning. The sky was clear and blue, and the sun hung low, so that blinding sunlight bounced off the frozen surface of the millpond, making photography difficult. The grass and undergrowth were rimed with frost, and ice scrunched underfoot. A heron who habitually sits at the waters’ edge, was perched on the branch of a tree. The water birds, usually seen swimming happily, were today skidding and skating precariously on the ice. Three Canada geese one behind the other slowly and carefully plodded towards a patch of open water near the bridge. The first two held their footing reasonable well, but the last one slipped drunkenly on every step – two steps forward and one slip-step backwards. Seagulls coming to land, ran a few slippery steps, wings flapping wildly to keep their balance before coming to a standstill. A solitary duck padded across the ice, webbed feet flapping, but the rest of the ducks seemed to be crowded into a narrow stretch of water between the bank and the boardwalk.
The funniest of all had to be the coots. They looked rather like misshapen, feathered rugby-balls, with ungainly legs and long flat toes that are usually hidden under the water. No doubt the toes with flabby flaps of skin that act rather like webbed feet are ideal for paddling through water, but they are not really designed for walking on ice! The faster the coots tried to go, the more they slipped and slithered. But however much difficulty the birds had staying upright on the ice, I didn’t see any actually fall over; and thankfully neither did I!

 

Blue Butterfly

I was looking through my photos this afternoon, trying to find some inspiration, when I came across this blue butterfly trying to hide on a leaf, almost camouflaged, but not quite.

As I gaze at the picture, the soft muted blues and greens, and the subdued lighting, I realise that I feel a bit like the butterfly, freshly emerged from its chrysalis, fearful and vulnerable; and all I want to do is merge into the background and hide.

I wondered why the picture made me feel this way, and then the penny dropped! Yesterday I finally completed something that I have been putting off for ages, and now I feel as if a part of me is missing. This self-imposed task has been mulling around and taking up space in the back of my mind for many months, but now that space is empty and swept clean. In time I know that something else will fill the gap, but for now I feel sad and somewhat bereft.

 

Spreading some cheer on a grey day

Today has been quite grey and sombre, and I feel as though I have achieved very little. On occasions I think I just need something colourful to boost my spirits, and today is one of those days. So here are some rhododendron and azalea pictures taken at Wakehurst Gardens last year, to brighten the day. It reminds me that it won’t be long before this years rhododendron and azaleas will be ready to be photographed!

Looking up

We usually see the world from our own eye level. Children see a swathe of knees and trousers – a limited view, their eye-line often blocked. As an adult I see from a slightly more elevated level, and see faces and expressions. Go higher and our view extends even further, but the higher we get the more we tend to look down. I remember a couple of years ago looking down from the top of Old Dungeness Lighthouse in Kent, and last summer staring out across the Lincolnshire countryside from Sibsey Trader Windmill. Even with our feet firmly on the ground, we are always looking down – avoiding muddy puddles, wary of the broken paving stone that might trip us up. Consequently, unless we’re star-gazing, we rarely notice what is actually straight above us. When we do look up, what a different world we then can see; from clouds to skyscrapers, from the natural to the constructed. New perspectives, fresh patterns, surprising shapes and shadows. A new view of the familiar, and an unexpected view of the ordinary that makes it extraordinary. So take a moment to look up, and be surprised!

 

My robin

I did a spot of gardening this week, and my robin was back (see my last post – A robin sang). He sat in the wire fence and watched me dig a large hole to accommodate a camellia that had out-grown its pot. He flitted down to the bucket where I put the excess soil, then he hopped onto my spade, and even when he darted back into the undergrowth I could still hear him singing. I realise that he wasn’t really watching me, but was actually keeping an eye out for any worms and grubs I might unearth; and I have to confess that I did search out a few extra worms for him from the lid of the compost bin.
When I saw him last time I didn’t have my camera handy, but this time I had come prepared. I know he isn’t really my robin, but it feels like he is. Autumn can be a difficult time for me as I go through some painful anniversaries, but every time I see my little robin, and every time I hear his lilting voice, he warms my heart and lifts my spirits.
My robin

 

Norway – the best bits

I’ve just about got back to normal again after my cruise to the Norwegian fjords. I was so tired when I got back – out doing touristy stuff during the day, then great entertainment in the evenings – that I needed another week to recover! Last night I had some friends over, and was showing off my photos, and I was asked what I liked most about Norway. In some ways that’s a hard question, because a week seems such a short time in which to make a valid judgement. But in other ways it’s also an easy question – it has to be the scenery. The mountains were quite stunning, and with the snows melting in late spring, the waterfalls were at their best – simply spectacular. The smooth blue-green water of the fjords perfectly reflected the mountains in all their glory. The tranquil evenings, as the sun gently sank behind the mountains, a silhouette against a sky slowly turning to salmon pink. And the sky at midnight, still with a touch of colour when we went to bed. All of these, and many other sights are memories to treasure. I think cruising down the fjords has to be the best way to appreciate the grandeur of the mountains towering high above us; so that what is in truth a huge cruise ship (carrying about 5500 crew and passengers), seems tiny in comparison. It gives me a tiny glimpse of how truly huge and magnificent God is in comparison to us.