Sunday, 27 March 2016

Spring, Maybe


With Storm Katie in the offing, promising to wipe out any Bank Holiday Monday jaunting, we scrambled to get out - no, we didn't, we loafed about for most of Easter Sunday morning eating hot cross buns, with the result that by the time we got to Ashton Court, stormy clouds were looming. 

We shivered as we ate our ice creams, looking over the city to Freezing Hill on the horizon, before setting off for the Domesday Oak.  

By the time we reached it, it was pouring icy rain. 

And the oak, oh the oak had all but met its Domesday since I last saw it, a few years ago, having fallen apart.

My eyes were as blurry as my photos.

As we left the oak, it stopped raining and the sky began to brighten again.  I was cheered by a magnificent chestnut tree. 


Another old friend - marked, rather prosaically, on the map as the Fattest Oak - seems to be doing better than its older cousin. And it does indeed have a very broad bole.


Meanwhile, something seemed to be lighting the beeches from within. Spring, maybe.






Friday, 25 March 2016

Equinox at Badock's Wood

Spring has come on apace these last few days, and as it was such a lovely day, we headed off to another urban wood, this one in the Trym Valley.  

Badock's Wood is one of my very favourite places in Bristol. It's almost a secret wood, tucked in its own miniature gorge and not as well known or frequented as the larger Snuff Mills. I come here a lot, and am on first name terms with many of its trees.  It's good to catch up with how they're doing every now and then.  


First we had a wander around the top fields, including Mill Tut with its bronze age burial mound, here seen through a shiver of birches. 


My favourite cherry is in blossom. 


And my first bluebells of the season in the shelter of the gorge - though Badock's Wood has few, being primarily a wild garlic wood.  In a month's time there will be drifts and drifts of stars. 



The bluebell that tickles Boggis the beech root's bum every year is yet to flower. 
The Yorkshireman offered to take some photos of me, potentially for publicity purposes. I like the notion of an interesting tree with a wonderful carving by Andy O'Neill and fabulous bark on the cover of a book called Breadcrumbs.  And Ted - well, he was included to corner the border collie-owning market. And they didn't come out too badly either, given the subject matter.  The light was soft and subtle, and for once I didn't look like Quasimodo.   
It was hours later that I realised Ted had his lipstick out in every single one.  EVERY SINGLE ONE.








Monday, 21 March 2016

A Poem for World Poetry Day 2016

It's no longer good enough just to be a day, one of the 365, getting out of bed, shining yourself up a bit to meet the masses - no, you have to be World Something-or-other Day too.  It's this celebrity culture, innit.

March 21st is the Kim Kardashian of days - first day of spring, Equinox, World Downs Syndrome Awareness Day, World Poetry Day. Here's a poem in honour of attribute 4 that has attributes 1 and 2 covered.  


Tipping the Balance


Let winter steal this March on spring
falling backwards into snowlight, 
its blinding victory. 

It’s not about green and yellow,
the glow of celandines or whether
miserly beeches are still pocketing their coppers

We’ll measure the turning year in light,
throw the wolf and lion into the balance,
let afternoons trickle into evening,

evening out the hours of dark
and as night comes
hurtling into morning,

wake to the beating of wings
warm as migratory kisses


©Deborah Harvey 2014




'Tipping the Balance' is from my 2014 collection, Map Reading for Beginners, which is available from Indigo Dreams Publishing, good bookshops everywhere, and Amazon if you must. 

My new poetry collection, Breadcrumbs, will be published in the next few weeks.



Friday, 18 March 2016

Rolling Away The Stone

Once again finding myself briefly at a loose end in North-East Somerset, I took myself off to a village with a church.  The first thing that struck me is how the seasons have turned since the last time I was in this area, about six weeks ago.  Then it was still very wintry, now - well, it's ever so slightly more colourful.


This is All Saints Church in Corston (not to be confused with Corston, Wilts). The present church dates from the 14th century and its stumpy 'candle-snuffer' spire (one of only 18 on mediaeval churches in Somerset) gives it a homely appearance.
 Much of the fabric of the interior has been swept away, however, and I found few traces of the distant past.  Though if you are a church in need of new choir furniture, these modern Gothic examples are a fine option (here with the Millennium tapestry behind). 


Bit of a surprise in the churchyard, in this monument of Jesus, rather than the more usual angel - in fact, I'm not sure I've seen one before, at least not this big.  He presides over a grave containing various Bartelts, a well-to do family of Prussian origin. 


Coming from a rather plainer religious  background , this old rugged cross was altogether more familiar to me.  









It was a beautiful day to wander about a bit, with views over the valley and marshy brook that gives the village its name.





There are always moments of melancholy on such meanders. The graves of children ... 
... and of those who left room for their loved ones, only for the ungrateful And Also's to carry on living and move on - and into another's grave.  
Though that's what it's for, isn't it? Living. 


Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Breadcrumbs coming soon


So this is what it's going to look like - the cover of my forthcoming poetry collection from Indigo Dreams Publishing.  Meanwhile, I'm angsting over commas and full stops, as is my wont. It will soon be time to Step Away From The Second Proof.  

Here's one of the poems that will be in it. It was originally published in 'Salt on the Wind', Chaucer Cameron and Helen Dewbury's anthology of poems in response to Ruth Stone, which is available from Elephant's Footprint.


Memory

after Ruth Stone

You scrabbled for
strands and threads
wove together
whatever you could
a piece of story
to keep you warm
cover your shame
But under the surface
something shifts
alters its colour
You turn it
all the ways you can
but all you thought
                     you knew is gone 


                                         Poem  ©Deborah Harvey 2016
                                         Artwork  ©Dru Marland 2016






Saturday, 12 March 2016

A Wander at Snuff Mills

The dog has form for hamming it up. He spent the entire period of my recuperation from breaking my leg last year limping for attention, though there was nothing wrong with him. Recently, however, he started hobbling for real and the vet, who has no truck with our tales of limpathy, diagnosed strained ligaments. The last few weeks have been dull for him and for us, with enforced rest and subsequently only very short walks around the block.


He's seemed a lot better these last few days so today we decided to go for a wander at Snuff Mills in the Frome valley, with Ted on two leads and his headcollar so that he wasn't tempted to go cantering off and cause any more damage to himself.  This did confer some advantages, principally the fact that he couldn't dive headlong into all the mud lining on the river bank.

The poor lad did, however, manage a quick paddle.


Meanwhile, I was getting a little over-excited.  There were buds and catkins, celandines and lungwort.  The great process of renewal under way.



I could even smell the water. 
Ted rather liked the dogwood. 

Bristol is of course famed for the Avon Gorge, but some of its other water courses - the Trym, the Hazel Brook and the Frome  -  have their own, smaller gorges, through Badock's Wood, Blaise Castle estate, and Oldbury Court estate/Snuff Mills respectively. I love the way the trees here grow out of the rock. 

The Yorkshire man got very sniffy when I said that this was a post industrial landscape, being the site, from the middle ages to the early 20th century, of many mills.  He thinks only Northerners have ever manufactured anything. 
On the drive home we saw a woman sweeping the pavement outside her house, and then the woman in the corner shop really muddied the waters by calling him 'sweetheart'. I expect they were both Northerners too.