30 January – Let Winter remind

Let Winter remind with shifting ground and stormy songs –
we cannot tame nature. We are not in control.
May the rising, raging rivers that threaten again to flood
cause a warming warning thrumming in our stubborn blood
to attend to the truth, not distract, avoid, ignore;
to allow natural protest signs to come to the fore.
There is a ravaging wildness our damaging further unleashes.
Nature is not always safe, we don’t know what we’re releasing.

We must slow down.
We must use less.
Let Winter remind –
let her violence bless.

29 January – The Dipper’s lament

Sorry to disappoint,
but it’s just me, the humble dipper,
who you see rising and falling,
skimming so close to the river.

Sorry to disappoint,
for I know you’re a veteran wisher,
hoping every low flying bird
is the flashy, sassy kingfisher.

Sorry to disappoint,
but he’s not the colour you see,
it’s just a trick of the light –
he’s actually brown like me.

Sorry to disappoint,
but I’m dapper in my own right,
so feast your eyes on finesse,
stop looking for charlatan bright!

29 January - The Dipper's lament

28 January – Time to shine

When rainfall is high
and sunlight is low,
moisture rich moss
comes into her own.
Where bracken’s died back
and trees are all bare,
suddenly moss makes
you stop stark and stare
by gleaming a green
that at least, initially,
seems like it must be
achieved artificially.
So verdant it shines
with its rich velvet folds
that seamlessly drape
over dry stone walls,
and coat all the trunks
with natural flocking,
clothing the trees
in long, thick stockings.
Moss time is creeping
so who is to know
when this magic-in-the-making
first started to grow?
But now it has quietly
conquered my dale,
lending it landscapes
of old fairy tales.
So when rainfall is high
and sunlight is low,
moisture rich moss
gets her chance to glow.
And I am left asking,
how did I ever dismiss
moss to mundanity
when it can look like this?

27 January – Holly’s fingers

Holly drifts her fingers in the beck,
like I do when I’m in a boat,
feeling the rush of resist
while I safely, gently float.
But it is January not July
and not really wise to linger,
caressing the water’s surface
with naked, exposed fingers.

So Holly’s fingers are icicling
as the beck water freezes fast.
If I was her, there’s just no way
I’d have the resolve to last.
The air alone has chased my hands
deep into my bright red mittens,
I wish poor Holly’s could get warm too,
no matter how prettily they glisten.

26 February – Migration

No one checks their papers
or protests their destination
when pink footed geese
arrive en masse in our nation.
Three hundred and sixty thousand
waltz in for Winter unbanned,
despite emptying out
their entire population from Iceland.
They fly in with free movement
to avoid hostile weather.
and ensure their unfurling futures
are given a chance to feather.
They’ll say it is simpler with birds,
but it bruises and breaks my heart
when people in such desperate need
are not given the same kind of chance.

25 January – Silent moment

Here, the loudest sound is silence,
broken only by a distant stream
that whispers constant chatter
like an undercurrent’s theme.
Even the birds have hushed,
stealing the air of song,
leaving a rare quiet peace
my soul yearns to prolong.
This is a gifted moment,
everything calm and still,
standing, lullingly listening,
half way up Hawkshaw Gill.

24 January – Too cold to snow

Why do English people so often say,
“it’s probably too cold to snow today”?
Is it temporary amnesia that makes them forget
the Arctic and Antarctic are much colder, and yet
still the snow persists there, despite descending degrees;
Of course it does! Snow is right at home in a big freeze.
I think it must be deeply rooted in our ingrained association
of clear, cloudless skies with cold – extrapolated to correlation.
But please can we agree now, once and for all,
it can’t ever get too cold for snow to fall!

24 January - Too cold to snow

23 January – Winter tonic

An old rhyme says you can kiss whenever gorse is in flower,
which means, of course, any day of any month at any hour.
For even when every other colour has long since gone to ground,
Gorse’s sunshine blooms can still be happily sought and found.
Give thanks for her year-round yellow, unsung heroine of plants,
who humbly and hiddenly shines with a constancy that enchants.
Breathe in the scent of Summer whenever you can get a dose –
for I promise Gorse smells of coconuts when you get really close.
Just be careful of all those prickles, protecting her flowers and seeds,
Gorse apologises to no-one, she simply does whatever she needs.

23 January - Winter tonic

22 January – Cloudbow philosophy

Cloudbow,
proud bow,
almost impossibility,
claiming fame
with no rain
to reduce your visibility.
Breaking the rules,
too cool for school,
having and eating your cake;
please can I borrow
your joy without sorrow
to catch a cost free break?
What do they say?
When it rains,
look for rainbows in the sky.
Cloudbow plays editor,
undoes the metaphor,
leaves you mourning the why.
Oh to have rainbows
without the heart blows,
just pure safety and bliss.
But this it seems
is the stuff of dreams
outside of eternity’s kiss.

21 January – Caught out

It’s unwise trespassing on a snowy day,
unless you want your crime to be given away.
For there on the surface, in crisp firm print
will be the evidence of your footsteps, bold and distinct.

This is how I can deduce a pheasant has been here,
even though its fabled form has long since disappeared.
Its every step and turn documented in relief,
I wonder what it took, the careless, clumsy thief?

21 January - Caught out

20 January – Mole mountain

What Herculean strength caused this eruption through the fallen white
piling up thick brown snow from below, dispersed by burrowing might?
How strange it looks now standing in a wide flawless sea,
a lone dark mud volcano rising incongruously.
Will any other islands be likewise bravely pioneered?
Or has the exhausted founder simply down and disappeared
after discovering extra resistance pressing on him from above,
and concluding it’s not worth the effort, for money or for love?

20 January - Mole mountain

19 January – Snow gulls

Like a second snow fall,
a flock of white wings float,
mimicking murmurations
in a spinning ermine coat.
As below, so above,
mirroring endless pearl,
the gulls glitter and glint
as the sun catches their swirl.
What is all this purity?
white every which way I look,
washing the weary world wonder-full,
like the once upon of a book.

19 January - Snow gulls

18 January – Maple masquerade

Finally the Maple gets its long awaited day
to blossom like a cherry in the prime of May –
a whimsical makeover of fluffy white clouds
that airily weigh down its bare brown boughs.
Dressed in bridal showers until it must thaw
and drop its melting flowers to the garden floor.
So brief, it’s out of season rush of rich bright bloom,
a chance to be another tree that falls away too soon.

18 January - Maple masquerade

17 January – Hyacinth hope

Every year when Christmas is all packed away,
I like to buy a hyacinth to put in its place.
It’s always been brought on to bloom before the season,
a premonition of what’s to come, an early Spring beacon.
I choose one boldly bursting from its purple onion ball
with a thick succulent stem already growing tall.
I watch in delight as the first trumpet is woken,
then drink in the scent as more and more open.
A blaze of bright blue fills the newly bared room,
prefiguring the colouring that paints empty ground anew.
It’s just enough flowering to hold on to in the bleak,
a promise March will be here in a few short weeks.

17 January - Hyacinth hope

16 January – Accidental art

Sometimes it’s hard to believe nature is at work indiscriminately
when the results of her touch show such particular artistry.
Take the rock in a stream eroded into a fast swimming fish shape
or the exquisite way frost traces each detail across the landscape.
It’s as if such marvels have been sculpted deliberately by hand
rather than simply appearing randomly and being totally unplanned.
I’ll never tire of finding these magic eye picture surprises,
artworks hidden deep in the swirl of myriad colours and sizes.

15 January – Bottling glow

I wish I could bottle up pure golden winter glow
for those grey days without compensatory snow.
Then I’d stock up shelves with endless jars of the stuff
so everyone I know and love could access enough
of the hope-giving shine we so desperately crave
to give us the get up and go we need to be brave.
But all I can do is drink this dose deep for myself,
then store up beautiful memories on my own mind’s shelf,
and trust my imagination, when outside is dreary and cold,
to pour them out and flood my thoughts with low light gleaming gold.

15 January - Bottling glow

14 January – Top tup

Isn’t it enough he has the pick of the flock
without also deciding he can sit and lie on top
of the hay trough his harem are trying to eat from?
No, clearly this tup just thinks he is the bomb.
Feminism hasn’t reached the ewes in our dale,
they passively look on and allow their token male
to dominate the field in reward for just being a ram,
assuring he stays King Of The Drove, and Father Of All Lambs!

13 January – Snowflake spotting

Every snowflake
has a unique face,
yet they fall from the sky in crowds.
So easy then to miss
each silent, perfect kiss
as they cover the ground in clouds.

Just so with all of us
when we neglect to fuss
over each one’s wonder and worth,
consigning some to statistics
and others to sheer logistics
as we strive to make our own way on earth.

If only we could slow the flow down,
have time to prevent overwhelm-drown
and see each six-fold symmetrical star,
the world would no longer be the same
for we could hope to learn every name,
and understand all those stories and scars.

But so thick and fast they fall
we don’t really see them at all
as they fly, float, fall, lie or die…
And so we must concede,
life is lived at speed,
even as we bravely continue to try.

12 January – The sound of snow

The sound of snow is a paradox,
so silent it muffles the world
as it falls and dances and drapes –
its beauty to gently unfurl,
but then crunches underfoot
in crisp, compressing crush,
boldly making its presence heard
as we tramp and tread and brush
its weighty loads off branches
in sudden thumping thuds
and listen to its thawing drips
grow to rush the river to floods.
All this then is the sound of snow,
from silence to a repertoire of tones,
weaving symphonies of percussive peace,
counterpointing the world’s very bones.

11 January – The snow worm

Yesterday we found a worm sliding along the snow,
stranded many worm-miles from his earthy home below.
What confused him into pushing up through all that white?
Did the strange lunar surface he discovered give him a fright?
He looked so weird and out of place, like an alien in the Arctic
but perhaps he found leaving his comfort zone helpfully cathartic.
Either way, we cleared some grass and placed him gently down,
hoping he could burrow himself back through the hardened ground.

10 January – White delight

This morning Narnia came to me
in a flurry of waking dreams,
softly softening the ground below;
coating the tree canopy beams.
The whole whirling world a shook snow globe,
spinning magic out of dross and rust,
transforming every prosaic detail
with Winter’s winsome fairy dust.
Every larch dressed as a silver birch
as wind wrapped their trunks in white,
and I smiled at my five year old self
as she clapped her hands in delight.

9 January – Surprice

When I suggested a walk at the reservoirs, I just didn’t think
I was inadvertently luring my friends to a treacherous skating rink.
The water was lapping as normal, but oh my word, the paths
left me seriously concerned on absolutely everyone’s behalf.
Like so much in life and nature, it’s all about your expectations
because at other times, of course, we seek out skating sensations.
But none of us came prepared with any blades or hopes at all
and so we spent most of our walk simply trying not to fall.
Next time we’ll know when the tops look dazzling and splendidly, snowily white,
heading up to the reservoir paths is probably not very bright!

8 January – The Scarhouse stoat

The Scarhouse stoat
was different to most
for he didn’t just scuttle away,
but stopped by the wall
opposite us all
in order to properly survey
such strange creatures
with fearsome features
and multi-coloured fluff at their throats.
It was quite the sighting,
although it was frightening –
what a story to tell other stoats!

7 January – Ice cold clarity

When waterfalls become icicles
and streams shimmer under sheets like shoals,
it’s hard to ignore the wonder in the world
and the majesty of souls.
So breathe in the crisp cutting air my love,
let it clarify and clear,
drink in the remembrance that for all you have lost,
you have everything you need right here.

6 January – Winter coat

I think this silver birch must be rather pleased to see
her trunk wound round and round with rich, thick ivy.
For when it’s so cold and she’s lost all her leaves,
why wouldn’t she fantasise about being evergreen?
How smart to wear a creeping cloak that keeps her warm,
to insulate and decorate her thin, bony form.
How fabulous to be draped and utterly entwined
by forest green that makes her look timelessly fine.
How splendid to enjoy such a dazzling masquerade
while other deciduous trees just mourn how they were made.

5 January – Morning moon

A cloudy pink morning covers the East
but when I approach my western window,
the moon still shimmers her quiet sheen
like a pearl in an ocean dimly aglow.
It’s proper day now, after nine at least,
but the queen of the night still lingers,
clinging to her chance at daytime shine
as if nothing on earth could bring her
to accept her place is in the dark,
which of course is completely right,
for every morning, she is still there,
camouflaged by the sun’s greater light.
It’s a rare treat to see her like this,
a beautiful blushing morning moon,
but even now she’s poignantly pale
and will be lost to me far too soon.

5 January - Morning moon

4 January – Daylight display (II)

The river path is slush now
with brown breaking down the green
but discarded fallen fireworks
have been newly truly gleamed.
Hogweed skeletons spark again
with clusters of snowflake flowers,
reprising their summer displays
and turning back the Winter hours
to August when they first exploded
in glorious detonating white,
and November when we echoed them
with sky-flowers in the night.

3 January – Temptation

When the twelve days of Christmas are nearly all done
and back to work and school have almost begun;
when you’re trying to start a well behaved January diet
and hoping you can keep the continuing cravings quiet…
the last thing you need is to encounter temptation
in the form of seemingly expertly baked vegetation.
But yesterday, the snow was falling and amid the sludgy bog,
what should I discover but an enormous Yule log?!
I knew it wasn’t chocolate but the damage was already done,
right there on my healthy walk, loomed a spectre of sweeter fun.
How am I supposed to resist when nature and confectionary conspire
to conjure huge reflections of the objects of my desire?
The bark became the thickest fudge icing that I ever saw
and the snowy sprinkles topping it only made me want it more.
No matter that I couldn’t actually consume this effigy
when I could simply head for home, and so effortlessly
raid the leftover treats that had been so nobly put away,
shutting up the resolutions instead to revisit some other day.

2 January – Picture perfect

Today was a picture perfect Winter’s day
of wide Wedgwood skies and every surface glazed
with varnishing crystals of thick sparkling frost
accentuating each detail as if it had been embossed.
Silhouetted trees line-danced along fields delicately
as low light illumined their unrivalled intricacy.
And as dusk approached, before the last rays had gone,
a huge honeyed moon appeared and coldly-goldly shone.
I crunched the diamond jewel-ground with my booted feet,
wishing I could pause time and press repeat, repeat, repeat.

1 January – First shoots

Look closely among the dross and debris of the year that’s gone
to find the first precocious shoots of this year stirring strong.
These are just beginnings, premonitions of blooms ahead,
growing in the midst of what’s been left behind for dead.
But out of all that lies discarded here on the woodland floor,
a forest of flowers will soon burst through and shine as they did before.
This is a new start, dear heart, you deserve another chance
to drink in colour and scent – to live your one wild dance.

1 January - First shoots