Last December we had over a foot of snow which lasted for a couple of weeks. This year we’ve barely had frost. Anyway, prompted by Lens-Artists, I thought I’d finish 2018 with ‘a year in the life’ of Townsend Meadow behind our house.
Happy New Year everyone, and may sanity and kindess be restored to Planet Earth and all who voyage on her.
Ann-Christine asks for a photographic review of 2018, however we choose to do it.
This wintery looking hedge is on the lane to Downs Mill, though it was a mild afternoon when I took this photo, more like spring. The hazel catkins along the field path by the house have been thinking much the same, their tassels opening to the late December sun. Out in the garden the Dyer’s Chamomile (grown from seed last summer) is still flowering, as are pink and coral hesperanthus and hardy geraniums. None of them seem to have been bothered by the few mornings’ frost we had earlier in the month.
Otherwise, there have been a couple of gales, lots of murk with fog and too much rain, but also blue-sky days too, and so far little sign of winter as we once knew it. Up at the allotment the Swiss Chard is having yet another flush of juicy leaves and the pot marigolds have started to flower again, their petals adding a zing of colour to green salads. And in the fields all round the winter wheat is zooming up.
The Changing Seasons ~ December
Here we are – midday on Christmas Day in Ashes Hollow, Little Stretton, Shropshire, walking across some of the oldest landscape on the planet. Such vast antiquity is perhaps an unexpected distinction within a rural English county whose location, even to the citizens of the United Kingdom, is often a total mystery.
But here it is, one of the valleys, locally known as batches, whose streams wheedle their way down from the flanks of the Long Mynd, a 7-mile ridge of Precambrian rock, formed around 570 to 560 million years ago. It is also well travelled geology, having moved 13,000 miles from its origins in the Antarctic circle where its iron-rich sediments (eroded from volcanic mountains) first accumulated on the sea bed. This was closely followed by some tectonic shunt and shift which squeezed the sediments into a U-shape, so tipping them from the horizontal to the vertical. It’s a feature you can glimpse here and there on exposed rock faces. It means too, that in one sense at least, as you pass, you are walking through time.
Time Square #27
The bad news is he doesn’t seem to have left much room for the pressies. And already he looks to have had a tot too many of the Christmas spirits.
Happy Holidays Everyone
Time Square #24
C-Curve by Anish Kapoor and reflective puddles courtesy of the rain god; photo taken several freezing Decembers ago in Kensington Gardens. You can spot the Farrells looking a bit stiff – centre twosome on the left.
Lens-Artists ~ Reflections Patti set the challenge this week. Her fantastic photo of the Chicago Bean sculpture by Anish Kapoor reminded me that I had photos of his work too.
Well it had to be done for Becky’s December ‘time squares’, didn’t it? Here we are in Much Wenlock’s town square complete with Victoria’s diamond jubilee clock cum water fountain. It’s 3.20 on the ‘next shortest’ day, and we have almost-sunshine. Keep it up weather gods.
In case you’re wondering about our shops, straight ahead is our ecclesiastical outfitters, an unusual provision in a small town. Coming up next is the clock’s view of the sixteenth century Guild Hall with its veggie market and the medieval parish church beyond:
And in the other direction one of our several cafes, Catherine’s Bakery and A.J’s household goods store. In the Square itself is the weekly cheese stall. Not exactly bustling on the last Saturday afternoon before Christmas:
Time Square #22
Wrought by sea winds over many seasons.
Time Square #21
December is usually the time of the short rains in Kenya. I say usually because these days the tropics are especially affected by climate change so nothing is certain when it comes to weather. It is also the hottest time of the year, and in the upcountry regions, the season for planting. Here on Lamu Island (above) it is also tourist time, although the year we spent Christmas there it was scarcely crowded. This photo was taken on Christmas Eve as the sun was setting. There were about six other people on the beach. Earlier that day we had arrived in a sudden squall which made the dhow crossing to Lamu from the air field on Manda Island a touch exciting. We visitors all huddled under the awning while the stalwart captain kept us on course across a choppy, foggy strait.
Most of our Christmases were spent on Tiwi beach south of Mombasa. Not a busy place either. Here’s the sunrise over the lagoon at Maweni one Christmas morning long ago.
And some ageing views of the lagoon in head-on sunshine:
Thursday’s Special ~ please visit Paula to see her colour prompts. As you might conclude, they include aquamarine, cyan and golden.
This morning with the sun on their faces the crab apples seemed to glow like tiny lanterns. I’ve noticed that as the temperature drops so their colour deepens to a rosy gold. Not that they will last much longer. The blackbirds have been busy foraging. Better enjoy them while we can then.
Time Square #19
…where book burrowing souls can spend lots and lots of time while being sustained by coffee and delicious home made cakes.
You can find Aardvark Books just up the lane from the 300 yard cloud hedge (see previous post) – a barn full of books – old and new – on a working farm with butterscotch coloured cows out in the yard and fine country views all around.
And it’s not only the books, but the inscriptions inside some of the volumes: handwritten words that speak of previous owners, or heartfelt sentiments expressed to long ago friends in the gift of a very particular work, and you the late-comer voyeur can only guess at why it was chosen and wonder at the kind of person for whom it was meant.
But there are also disturbing thoughts beyond the ghosts of relationships past. Standing among these mountains of books, you are also left feeling that if all of them have been well read, shouldn’t we be more enlightened and wise than we often seem to be. Or does the fact that so many books can be discarded like this (hopefully, if doubtfully to be reclaimed by somebody sometime) tell quite another story about our present condition? Time to get thinking perhaps?
Time Square #18