Making wild plans

She imagined the meadows set forever in pink and yellow and white, like cloisonné enamel work, with flocks of goldfinches and high-stepping deer, hares hiding low and foxes making tracks in the dark. They would not mow at high summer, leave the wild things alone. They could let saplings grow here and there and become trees, let the woodland spead and step prettily among the flowers. Some said without a cut, bramble would smother everything, an unholy mess. Others said it wouldn’t. Sometimes, she decided, the only thing to do is follow the dream and see what happens.


Haibun for the sleep thief

Photo ©Fentriss

There are foxes and badgers and hedgehogs that snuffle and rootle and dig beneath the windows at night, deer and hares that dance in the meadow, boar that dig over the soft earth beneath the willows and the poplars. There are barn owls and tawny owls that call or shriek through the dark hours. There are barking dogs, sleepless cocks and frogs that sing on the pond. But what keeps us awake is the chomping and chewing, scampering skittering and general cavorting of dormice in the attic, newly woken from their long winter fast, ravenous as wolves, rowdy as a pack of adolescents on a Saturday night.

Moon wind blows clouds
silver edged above the trees
owls etched in silver.

A walk in March woods

In the woods along the stream, following the trails left by boar and deer, dogs listen to the smells in the wind, sniff the sounds. Dogs of the bare Spanish hills, where they could see for horizons, watch the encroaching trees warily, the green-furred trunks, listen to the damp crackle of dead wood, fallen leaves.

The stream is low in its bed, steep-sided, deep, where trees throw their branches in chaotic dance, water running, light-voiced, leaping obstacles not carrying all in its path.

This green light calls from a misty time mossy and ancient. Dogs hear but the voice is foreign. Their heads turn to the wood’s edge and the meadow pitted with badger holes, deer scrapes and the tender pressed grass of hare forms.

They turn, look down at that dark edge overhung with bramble and hedged with butcher’s broom and a forest of oak saplings. The woods stare back. Darkly.


A place, dim-green, moss-damp,
perspectives shift where trunks march,
and the bird calls echo
high in black branch-tangle.

Those who walked here are hid now,
the earth dug for worms and mice,
here a scattering of black feathers,
leaving us with the silence.

Foretaste of spring

Imbolc has turned the weather round, chased clouds and cold, and the woods around the mere are full of silvery light.

No hunting in these woods and the ground is covered in tracks and prints, of boar, badger, deer, fox and pheasant, their leavings and bones. Interesting smells distract the dogs, and walking is more like excavating. Bix is unnerved by the ‘things’ he can’t see and hangs back. Redmond just wants to get into the water. Difficult.

Still water reflects a clear sky.

The vegetation ahead is too dense for us to walk the length of the mere, and the woods along the stream are full of fallen trees and bramble traps.

Bix sees monsters everywhere

At home, the honeysuckle bush is drawing the bees, and lizards are dropping off the house walls, as if they’re not used to being out in the sun again.

February painted in Brigid’s colours

Such a little thing,
a day that opens
like the scented mouth
of honeysuckle blossom,

of light that spills
into scrapes and hollows,
hoof and paw prints,

glints on the metallic ribbons
of orchid leaves,
rising like dragons’ teeth,

writing on whispering paper
leaves, the deed of ownership
of this scrap of earth.

Autumn comes

Yesterday was hot. The yellow was golden, we kept in the shade and strolled home listening to the crackle of dried leaves.
The sunflower field looks desolate now, and the trees in front of the house along the stream look pale and thin.

The corn is in too, but the boar still come out to rummage.

Then today, the clouds came, the light was dull, and the yellow seemed more pronounced and drab. Like the box elder

the parched meadows

and the ‘garden’ reduced to yellow dust. The plants have died back or withered, the vine is wilted, the leaves curled and brown, and all we see on the roses are thorns.

At the end of this afternoon it rained. The start of the equinoctial change. High winds, unseasonably cool temperatures and rain are on the menu for the next fortnight. The mellow fruitfulness isn’t going to happen this year, I fear.

In memoriam a grand old lady

In memoriam a grand old lady

My great-grandmother was just ten weeks short of her hundredth birthday when she died, without any fuss, but with four generations about her bedside, in the council house she’d lived in for half a century. She brought up her own two children and ten orphaned nephews and nieces who she had also brought into the world in another council house a couple of doors down. She had run a pub and hated it, kept a dispensary for sick and injured birds that she loved, was unpaid child minder for family and neighbours.
She was a huge personality, a wonderful, compassionate woman and when she died, even the Protestants lined the street to see her off. There were no gun salutes, no national mourning, no outpourings of grief by millions who never knew her. But she is remembered for the things she did, despite poverty and discrimination, with the most basic of health care and no modern appliances to ease the work burden.
After so many years, her light still burns bright, though she will never be immortalized in history books, and only her grand-daughter, my mother, ever painted her portrait.

Birds fly
into the setting sun
their wings never burn.

End of summer walk

The weather is breaking, storms coming up from Spain, so we profited from the cooler temperature to take the dogs walking in the deep dark forest just over the river at Mas- d’Agenais and along the Garonne and the canal lateral à la Garonne.

The light was strange, the sky pale blue behind ragged pale grey cloud. We saw no one and nothing except birds.

A large stream runs right through the forest, cutting a deep gully as it winds around huge tree roots. It’s completely dry at the moment, full of dead leaves, crossed by fallen tree trunks, and here and there, deep pools full of brackish water.

We followed the dry stream for about a kilometer but the silence and the strange, flat light were oppressive. Even the photos have come out grainy.

We took the road along the Garonne home, stopping to walk a way along the river to watch the herons, egrets and swans. As usual, they were on the opposite bank.

At Lagruère, we joined the canal latéral, the Toulouse-Bordeaux section of the canal du Midi.

This is what I had resting on my shoulder most of the time.

Approaching town across the bridge. This time the photo suffers from the state of the roads.

We walked in the early morning

We walked in the early morning

We walked in the early morning
but no dew damped the grass
the heat already lay in wait

and we wondered if the earth had ever rested,
if the paws and feet that trod the night
had ever waded through a gentle sea

for the sun was a yellow devil
an eye unblinking and the tender blue
of spring a steely sheet of unbearable glare.

We walked the early morning
through a thin veil of dust
golden motes igniting the air

where dragonflies hover
hunting low impervious to the sun
their mechanism in tune
to this deathly stillness.

Morning walk

It’s too hot to be out for most of the day, so I take the dogs out earlyish. Walking too early can be problematic because there are still lots of wild animals about, so we wait until 8.30 when the night folk will be hidden away.

I stick to the lane when I’m alone, where the risk of distractions is less. Even at midday there are rabbits and deer about at the edge of the fields…

though Redmond often has to wait patiently while Bix investigates every grasshopper, lizard and mouse he sees in the ditch.

The woods at the side of the lane are full of interesting ‘things’.

and the edge of the corn field at the bottom of the hill is a favourite hang-out for wild boar.

Back home.

The meadows still look pretty, but the earth is bone dry and so fissured it’s hard to walk across.

Even the north side of the house is mainly dry stalks, but the chicory flowers still manage to make a picture.