Tag Archives: seeing

1 June: Richard Jefferies I: Apparent indifference

walk5I was looking for something else when I came across some of the extracts I made from Richard Jefferies’ “The Gamekeeper at Home”, first published in 1878. Ian, a lad I once taught, had an ambition to become a keeper, and enjoyed reading this book together, despite the sometimes old-fashioned language. He had the capacity to stand and stare that Jefferies describes here. The book is available at Project Gutenberg.

Often and often, when standing in a meadow gateway partly hidden by the bushes, watching the woodpecker on the ant-hills, of whose eggs, too, the partridges are so fond (so that a good ant year, in which their nests are prolific, is also a good partridge year) you may, if you are still, hear a slight faint rustle in the hedge, and by-and-by a weasel will steal out. Seeing you he instantly pauses, elevates his head, and steadily gazes: move but your eyes and he is back in the hedge; remain quiet, still looking straight before you as if you saw nothing, and he will presently recover confidence, and actually cross the gateway almost under you.

This is the secret of observation: stillness, silence, and apparent indifference.

I was not best pleased

damsel fly glebe 20.5.19I was not best pleased to find the hosepipe all rolled up and disconnected when I arrived at the garden. The pump is temperamental, the hose likewise, and reassembling it all takes longer than it should. Perhaps we need a few more connectors.

Well, I was feeling as temperamental as the equipment when, on my knees, I caught site of this damsel fly drying its new wings beside the river. I would never have seen it, just walking by. I even had chance to grab the phone from my coat and snap! These creatures do not sit still for long once the new life is surging through their veins, so I was grateful to have had a good look and to be able to share it with you.

30 March: Peeping into a poet’s diary.

garlic

End of March and beginning of April, 1871 —

One bay or hollow of Hodder Wood is curled all over with bright green garlic.

In Gerard Manley Hopkins, Selected Poems and Prose, Edited by Ruth Padel, London, Folio Society, 2012, p125.

garlic.flowers

Did the Jesuits of Stonyhurst gather the garlic for their Lenten kitchen, I wonder?

 

‘It makes it bigger.’

spoon bigger

I was dining alone with 3½ tear old Abel the other day, when he put a spoon into his glass of water. (His mother need not know about the 50 year old toy truck that helped feed him by ferrying grapes across the table.)

‘It makes it bigger’, Abel announced of his spoon in the water, so taken with this that he did not notice the photograph being taken,

‘Like your magnifying glass’, I suggested. He considered this for a moment. ‘My magnifying glass is missing.’ I feel sure he knows exactly where it is. He seems to think that things like to hide. Under the piano is a good spot.

But note the budding scientist: don’t tell him he’s wrong, when he is simply not in possession of enough facts and enough vocabulary to say more clearly what is happening. Let’s see if he can find that magnifying glass!

Along the river path again

 

This bridge carries the railway over the River Stour and the cycle path from Canterbury to Ashford. It also serves as a picture frame.

When I turned around the other day, I could hardly help contrasting the view with what I had seen in December.

The difference is Spring! And the time of day is earlier, so that the tree, in stark winter shadow in the first picture, is now radiant in gold-green leaf. Spring!

Their moment

On a bright morning after torrential rain, I walked home along the city wall. The sun lit up the golden maple on the ramparts. That is the bandstand on the lawn below.

The red maple is at the junction of Black Griffin Lane and Saint Peter’s Street.

Both trees are having their moment in the sun, while their leaves are still expanding and allowing as much light through as they reflect.

… the very next day

k.cdn.frog

Well, Abel came round again the following day, and after lunch grabbed his grandmother’s hand and took her to the pond. This time there were two green frogs.

There must be something in the genes: thirty years before, his mother enjoyed a close encounter with this frog. She – Abel’s mother that is – was very fond of the red boots and colourful anorak but fascinated by the frog.