Today, two of the children were visiting, bringing their talk and laughter. It was a day of chatting of everything and nothing, of singing and laughing and playing with dogs and cats, of walking up through the fields on tracks left by the harvesters following scents and listening to the quiet.

Some things I never tire of, the birds, the sky, walking with the ones I care about, and listening to the world turning slowly on its axis beneath the sun and the stars.

There’s a song thrush singing in the poplars
as the sun goes down,
and the willows are full of warblers
with a few last quiet words.
The sky’s adrift with cloud boats,
grey-hulled with sails of white,
and the blackbirds croon a lullaby
to resign us to the night.


A toad sits


Night flies on out-flung turquoise wings

folding feathers of fucshia and the taste

of pressed gold into cloud shapes and the

roaring of the poplars in the wind.


Grass shadow stretches earthwards and

upwards grey as dusky earth and the colour

of the toad waiting for the light music to fade

and the tranquil dark sea to rise and fall.


Cool seeps from well and water, earth turns

slow and stately as moonbeams, and life walks

on slender bufonid legs into the leaf-rustle

hush of the star-dimpled night ocean.

Rainy Sunday bliss

The organised pheasant shoot seemed to finish at lunchtime on Thursday and since then, there has been minimal activity from the men with guns. The animals have come out of hiding, though the caravan of refugee pheasants never really got into the spirit of keeping their heads down. The hare was lolloping around yesterday evening, the pheasants set up a din after lights out, and again around midnight meaning, yes, they were still there, and there was a prowler. I hope it was a fox.

There are a lot of fox turds around, and martens’ so they haven’t all been exterminated, and we see the squirrels about too. Our red squirrels seem to have black tails. Apparently this happens often in these parts. The deer are around at night, having been daily visitors until the pheasant massacre began. We know they come round at night because they are gradually eating our apple trees.

Trixie has been on a private massacre of her own. She has caught and eaten a flock of voles, but these last few days, she has been off her vole. Or rather field mouse, her latest discovery. The last ones she has just dumped in front of the house and gone for a lie down. Yesterday she caught something, brought it into the veranda and let it go. It ran and hid under the wellies and she couldn’t be bothered pursuing the matter and asked to go outside again. I caught the little critter, which was completely undamaged, and put it outside in the woodpile where the killer won’t find it. It was the loveliest little thing, a baby shrew, silky grey fur like a mole, and it blinked its eyes as though it wasn’t used to daylight.

This lunchtime, we witnessed a most touching display from a couple of pheasants. As if they know the hunters aren’t around at the moment they have been wandering around in the meadow and along the hedge. We saw a hen pheasant running in a distracted sort of way along the hedge, stopping every few yards to peer about, looking for something/someone. Then the object of her desire came running across the meadow (pheasants only seem to fly as a last resort) and they were reunited. The hen leapt into the air and bounced about in delight (literally) like a flighty fifteen year-old. He rubbed himself against her when she stayed still long enough. And we think only human beings have those kind of reactions.

rain falls from low cloud

the air is green, winter waits

the earth is busy.



Microfiction #writephoto: Peace

This is for Sue Vincent’s Thursday Photo Prompt.


It’s true we were on a public footpath, not hacking our way through virgin forest, but still, the sculpture was unexpected. The woods were silent and we had walked along in silence, I, listening to the birds, the other two finding walking quite tiring enough without wasting their breath on chit chat. When the carved tree trunk appeared ahead, it was greeted with squeals of pleasure, a relief from plodding and an excuse to break the silence. I stopped on the edge of the glade as the other two took selfies with the carving out of a fairy story.

Shadows moved among the branches but the birds had fallen silent. The undergrowth swayed almost imperceptibly. Something was moving away. I shivered, suddenly cold.

“It’s so peaceful here,” Betty shrieked. “I could almost sleep here,” she said, lying down on the tree trunk.

“We could certainly have our lunch here,” Alexa chirped. “It must be about time to stop.”

Betty sat up and looked around, suddenly serious. She pulled a face. “I dunno. There’s something a bit…funny about this place.” She looked over the other shoulder. “Like there’s someone watching.”

The ghost of peace and quiet.

Alexa stopped rummaging in her bag. We all listened. Nothing. Silence.

A while bell of convolvulus peeped over the wooden pillow.

Was that there before?

Ants marched across the recumbent trunk, drawing rapid, squiggly lines, like scars twitching. Betty leapt to her feet and batted tiny invaders off her shorts.

Alexa snatched up her bag. “Maybe a proper picnic place would be better.”

Betty was already moving along the path, into the green gloom, away from the clearing. Alexa followed, her eyes on her legs, swatting at anything that looked like insect life.

By the foot of the bed, I noticed a ramp of mushrooms. Where the trunk rested in the earth, the wood was spongy and greenish. Another convolvulus flower bowed in the breeze and my foot caught in a bramble runner reaching out to embrace the couch. The sun had shifted and shadows fell across the carved bedplace, filling it with darkness. The white bell flowers glowed.

We’re leaving.

My feet made little sound on the earthy path. I looked back, saw the shadows shift again and sunlight fill the glade.

This is peace.

The flickering movement was birds flitting from tree to tree, and a jay squawked as it flashed in colourful flight through the sunbeams. I could hear the chattering song of finches. I wondered if it had ever stopped.



I will live


I will live

where I can see the stars,

taste the rain,

hear birds sing,

and water run,

and smell the sweet scent of dog roses.

I will live

where the cold bites,

and the sun bakes,

and draughts sweep beneath the door,

where the water’s cold,

the walls aren’t true,

bathed in sunset’s golden hues,

and the night is silent, no music roars.

There will be no laughter over the wall,

no barbecue on summer nights,

no passing cars,

no evenings out,

no train,

no tram,

no car,

no road.

It will be hard to run from bed across cold flags,

to splash cold water on my face,

and dream of steam and hot water gushing.

But I will live.

Samhain morning

Yesterday evening I came back from a long weekend at the new old house. The rhythm is different there, waking with the light and doing what amounts to field work while the light lasts. There isn’t internet or a wifi connection, the radio is dodgy, and the electrics don’t extend to reading lamps, so it’s firelight and candles until bedtime. No scribbling on the computer, but the thoughts still come and the best ones linger after I get home.


A dew-damp morning,

birdsong colours the silence,

I hear a leaf fall.



Early morning
at the city’s edge
standing in the dewy grass
I can hear the earth breath.
Not silent
bird fluttered and sedge ruffled
by a sea breeze.

While the city sleeps
birds whistle
river water laps.
Long grass hides railway sleepers
sleeping cobbled roadways
and the sun’s first rays
stir the crickets’ song

Early morning
in the quiet
in the pale light,
night lingering beneath the alders,
the earth whispers small words of hope
that unfold like night-furled petals.