31 July – Interloping leaper

We set off round the reservoir track,
intent on a catch up natter,
suddenly three are joined by a fourth
keen to add more chirrup and chatter.
Little interloping cricket,
be careful where you leap,
we are pleased to meet you
but we have secrets to keep.
Besides this seems a more dangerous route,
you’ll need to watch for every flying boot.
Jump to the left now, back to the grass,
we’ll agree to let your intrusion pass.

30 July – Baby wren

What is smaller than a wren?
A fledgling wren for sure!
I saw for myself by the river,
I’d never met one before.
Like a furious, fluffy pompom,
squawking in the tree,
frantic because its mother
was on the other side of me.
I didn’t want to prolong its panic
so I quickly carried on
but was gladdened by glimpse of small stubby tail
and miniature raucous song.

30 July - Baby wren

29 July – Dog walk dog rose

The wooded track at the end of the village
is steep and narrow to climb,
growing closer still now
as late July bracken towers over
brambles that trip and prick.
The dog tunnels under
and we, like jungle explorers
feel our way through
the dense curtains of foliage
all the way up to the top
to tread the lighter green
of grassy sheep fields,
and see the far, rolling hills.
We reach the farm track
where suddenly, a riot of roses
spill their friendly colour
all over a dry stone wall,
like a chocolate box picture
of Summer hedgerow bliss.
And I smile as I remember
how the struggle to ascend
is always worth it somehow.

29 July - Dog walk dog rose

28 July – Lone Ranger II

We know his game for sure now –
the shy retiring woodland buck,
for we’ve caught him in the act.
We’ve seen him leave
his calm, canopied retreat,
leaping up the track and back
to the fray and fracas
of warren life,
the endless demands of the drove.
I wonder how often he sneaks away,
how long he gets for this downtime,
and if the other rabbits know
his secret shaded peace.

27 July – River soundscape

I wish I could conjure words
to set the song of water,
but no string of sibilant sounds
can capture the constancy
of luscious liquid white noise.
Always by the river,
flow serenades me still,
whether carried in rush,
ripple or fall,
its noise quiets my soul.
It’s the same by the sea,
with the crash and the draw,
Iike a raging lullaby
that storms and soothes
all fear away.

26 July – Olympic digger

The first time I saw a mole
I was beyond surprised,
for they’d been so much bigger
in my childhood mind’s eye.
Pictures didn’t give me scale
and stories evoked a sense
of a creature more a rabbit’s size
than of such diminutive length!
And now the mole has shocked again
with new biographical information,
it turns out to have a super power –
it’s a complete digging sensation!
A full twenty metres each day
they tunnel with tiny searching claws,
just imagine how far you’d get
as a human, if their talent was yours!
Strange to think of them under us,
practically whizzing around,
subterranean superheroes
hiding obscurely underground.

26 July - Olympic digger

25 July – Wind coaster

I watch a kestrel plummet
from soaring high to valley’s depth
– a staggering daredevil drop –
and I wonder, is it all about the hunting?
Or do they also feel the whoosh and thrill
of flipping stomach when they fall?
Like the rush of roller coaster dips
that leave you hungry for the next ride.

24 July – Moving house

When setting off across the path
to make her home on better turf,
I don’t imagine this tiny snail
thought she’d be leaving earth.
To keep her safe from tramping feet,
we momentarily lifted her high,
what a change from what she’d planned –
temporary housing in the sky!
We landed her back on her previous course,
grounded and safe on pastures new,
they say moving house is stressful,
I hope it wasn’t traumatic too!

24 July - Moving house

22 July – Cyanotype fern

I follow the footsteps
of botanical explorers
and press my fresh picked fern
into deep Prussian blue.
I trust the sun,
the waiting,
the water…
and marvel how,
with photography at my fingertips,
this rediscovered technique
of picture painting play
can bring me utter joy.
It grows now forever,
an immortalised white fern
on a cyan fabric square.
But also yields its life,
green to gradual curling,
gingering, gently -furling –
a perfect specimen captured
in a small glass bottle.
What was it like
when this was newly all there was –
great brave science recording
with accuracy for perpetuity
brand new exotic species
from far flung lands?
It must have seemed,
as it half does now,
something faintly fantastical,
beauty, form, life –
arrested on a page
by powerful noon-day light.

22 July - Cyanotype fern

21 July – Lone Ranger

Far from the colony,
away from warren bustle,
the woodland buck goes hunting
all by himself, alone.
He only knows
what he forages for here,
whether choice fallen fruits
or simply peace not found at home.
We see him often now
exploring dappled dank forest floor,
at ease with us watching him
despite his introverted ways.

20 July – Sunset bow

The light has dipped,
the sun is low,
invisible to us now.
But somehow,
in a rain free sky,
a full and faultless cloudbow
arcs high and muted bright
above the gloaming light.
In all my years
of sunsets and rainbows,
this is something I’ve never seen,
and I linger in the garden
to gaze at it longer,
unsure if I’ll ever catch
anything like it again.
You never reach the end
of creation’s wonders
however long you live,
no matter how far you explore;
endless possibilities open,
limitless beauties surprise and stagger
as you walk your way over
our broad green-brown-grey earth,
and live out your days under
its shifting grey-blue-pink skies.

20 June - Sunset bow

19 July – Oriental aroma

Suddenly the potting shed
transforms to Asian arbour
as myriad jasmine stars
begin to come to flower.
I make a daily pilgrimage
to breathe in their scent,
green tea and sticky rice
playing happily in my head.
Upstairs in the bathroom draw,
a Yardley soap with this essence
is waiting to echo jasmine’s joy
when summer’s no longer present.

19 July - Oriental aroma

18 July – Red sky at night

Red sky at night,
everyone’s delight.
No matter what it foretells
of promised sunnier spells,
the magic’s in the moment
where fuchsia and magenta
brush and streak the setting gold.
Never mind your landscape,
your native fauna and flora,
all of us share sunset gifts
with their wide, bold wonder.
I like that sense of unity –
wherever your patch of sky,
you’ll receive precious evenings
draped in this vibrant high.

17 July – July duet

Today was a duet of sunshine and showers,
alternating soakings over several hours.
First one, then the other, now both in time together,
a swirling, whirling dance of light counterpointing weather.
Black cloud backdrops make for brighter spotlights on the hills,
damp drizzle downpours all the more serving to fulfill
the sweet feel of warmth as the choreography begins
directing sunlight surges to drift and filter in.
Down by the river is like a hothouse at Kew,
close and heady with heavy mid afternoon dew.
I choose to play along and get thoroughly drenched,
then sit writing in dazzle on the swing bridge bench.

16 July – Little red bead II

Not once, but twice this week now,
I’ve spotted a spotted red bead
against all conceivable odds
among the long meadow grass.
This second cousin of the first
displayed pure acrobatics,
ascending and descending
green sheer vertical poles.
The grass was dancing wildly
as trees in gale force wind
and it made me marvel still more
at this ladybird circus act.
When you appreciate the scale,
this is extreme dare-devil sport –
talent and technique shining hidden
among the long meadow grass.

16 July - Little red bead II

15 July – Kestrel magic

Today I saw a kestrel seeming floating on the breeze,
looking, for all the world, totally at ease.
But this sight transpired to be optical illusion,
for the bird was not still but in constant motion.
When they suspend they are really flying swiftly,
matching speed to opposing currents completely.
How do they judge an equation so precise –
let alone while looking so far below for mice?
Science and sorcery meet among the thermal winds,
while we drive past and on towards town and prosaic things.

14 July – Queue jumper

It was my turn in the bathroom
but when I arrived
a tiny creeping creature
was already inside.
I tried to reason with him
saying, “Mr Woodlouse,
if you want to take a shower,
obey the rules of this house.
You’ll need to wait in line,
and when your time comes,
you can’t share with a woman,
that simply is not done.”
Of course he ignored me,
but he did go on his way,
so my ablutions were kept private,
hip, hip, hip hooray!

13 July – Little red bead

Like a needle in a haystack,
the chance of seeing her there,
one tiny red bead
in the long meadow grass.
But I spotted her spots
and was instantly a child,
compelled to feel her crawl
through the blades of my fingers.
Ladybird, ladybird,
what a treat to find you,
a tiny little gem
on a weekday morning.
You took some convincing
to go back to your true stems,
was it fun to meet a lady-human
in the long meadow grass?

13 July - Little red bead

12 July – Redheads unite

It’s funny who you meet
on a Sunday morning amble,
neighbours, tourists, friends,
and then close by the brambles,
a tiny trotting stoat
with little white throat
and vivid titian coat
struts out into the road.
It doesn’t stop to chat,
it’s gone without a greeting,
but it lights up my day,
a brief but brilliant ginger meeting.

10 July – Wet walk wonder

The path was as wet as the river
when we still set out to walk,
intent on blowing out cobwebs
and starting weekend talk.
All was streaky watercolour green,
everything leaking, seeping its seams,
smudging and fast becoming
indiscriminate haze.
When suddenly,
all in a rush,
a tiny cobalt dart
swiftly brushed the water
to make a work of art.
Its dazzling brilliance shone
then, as quick, was gone.
And we stood in the rain,
unaware of its soaking,
lost in kingfisher awe –
a turquoise gift-wrapped moment.

9 July – Foxglove forests

Peppered round the dale,
gardens, verges,
moor, woods, river
are little purple forests
growing tall and fine.
Miniature Scots pines
swaying in the breeze,
bending all their strength
to ring their merry berry bells.
Splashes of bright colour
that always bring delight,
whether weed or wild
they’re welcome with me.

But who was the thinker
and what was the thought
that decided foxes’ fingers
would fit in tiny petal sleeves?
Foxgloves seem more suited
to forming party hats for stoats
but I’m not sure such renaming
will catch on with many folks…
So I’ll just allow my sketch
to celebrate their beauty,
and leave the etymology
to heritage and dictionary!

8 July – Creeping beauty

Deep in the woods,
among the dank of the dale,
grow some curious fungi
who have learnt how to scale
the heights of ash and beech
to spread their creeping reach
into little elven shelving,
and mushroom moths unfurling,
all green streaked white and beige
against brown, forest green and sage.
Some even splay like goblin palms
as if stretching out with no qualms
about touching passing strangers
to dissemble and disarm.
I expect my fairy toadstools
to dance in circles on the ground,
but I’m quietly being enchanted
by the bracket fungus I have found.

8 July - Creeping beauty

7 July – Little gutter acrobat

When I want a drink,
I just turn on the tap.
But nothing so pedestrian
awaits this sparrow acrobat.
Up on the conservatory roof,
legs spread wide as a giraffe,
he tilts and turns full upside down
to take a simple draught –
squeezing head through tiny gap,
a limbo dancing ninja,
goodness me, what circus act
will he conjure during dinner?!

6 July – Sweet pea serenade

Is there anything more perfect
than the moment I see
the first sweet peas of summer
winking back at me?
This year they’re by the wayside,
growing wild and free,
a cacophony of colour
tumbling over hedge and tree.
They feel like garden runaways
scaling fence, breaking boundary,
I wonder where they’ll steal to next
to share their cheer and glee.

6 July - Sweat pea serenade

5 July – Heaven-sent

Heaven sent moist bracken scent
to stir my sense of wild.
Childhood southern seaside chines
in adult northern moorland wide
chime, converge, collide.
This is how adventure smells,
the quest – descent or climb,
England a borderless glasshouse,
an exotic landscape to find.

4 July – Sugar sprinkles

Well intentioned phrases say,
“look up”, “lift your head”,
but sometimes there is beauty
in looking down instead.
Saturday’s walk was wet,
my eyes were on the ground,
I couldn’t see the stunning view
but there was still treasure to be found.
Strewn across the track,
mixed with downtrodden grass,
a thousand sugar sprinkles,
discarded petal stars.
Sweet fragrance in the air
tells tales of their descent –
It’s elderflower umbels
for which they were meant.
But tumbled here beneath me,
each individual flower shines
with a new and broken beauty
those on the tree cannot find.
And it makes me remember
the brave wonder of this world,
where the shattered and battered
often transform into pure gold.
So perhaps don’t be frightened
to turn your gaze right down,
there among the debris
is something fresh and profound.

3 July – Heron walking

Yesterday was drenching
but it still felt strange
to see a heron walking
like a person, up the lane.
Far away from river,
still not that close to beck,
impossible to fathom
what was going through its head.
It was too far in front
to photograph the stroll,
which was disappointing
as it looked rather droll.
Best of all was the point
it stopped to pause and wait,
craning neck just high enough
to snoop over Peter’s front gate!

2 July – Windswept kite

The wind is rough,
the thermals unsure,
and stretched upon the wing,
close to the house
Red Kite rises and turns,
is tossed, thrown and spun.
A bird so often high and mighty
is like its paper alias today,
as if at mercy of current and string,
as likely under as over – all spin.
Less flying than surfing,
more suspended than soaring,
a wild adventure ride,
Creature in its element,
or element in its element?
I’m left asking as both disappear.