Find Your Hope.

“Find your hope, then, on the ground under your feet.”

Wendell Berry  from A Poem on Hope.

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A third unexpected bonus in as many days – this visit to Foulshaw Moss came hard on the heels of the tiny lizards by Hawes Water and the heron at Bank Well, even though the respective blog posts have been more temporally spaced. The day had started wet, but then brightened enough, whilst I was at work, to kindle some optimism about the prospects for an evening walk. By the time I dropped off our budding ballerina for her classes in Milnthorpe, however, it was already raining again. Clutching at straws, I drove to Foulshaw anyway. In the wind and the rain, Foulshaw was a bit bleak, to say the least.

But then, and only for a moment, the sun dropped low enough in the western sky to suffuse the cloudscape with a hint of colour…

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And I was pleased that I had made the effort.

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By the car park at Foulshaw, as is the case at many nature reserves, there is a chalk board for recording sightings, to which somebody had added: ’93 Common Lizards’, which is exactly the kind of precise one-upmanship that these boards seem to invite. The one at Leighton Moss often makes me chuckle, when the numbers of common birds like Starlings, or some of the overwintering ducks, are numbered in huge round numbers into the tens of thousands, as if anyone can count those huge flocks even remotely accurately.

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Find Your Hope.

Place Fell

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Looking into Deepdale.

The last day of our Easter holiday (apart, that is for TBH who still had the rest of the week to look forward to). We had arranged a walk with our friends Dr R and her daughter E. Dr R is ticking off the Wainwrights and we needed a route which took in something new, but also gave the potential for meeting some none walking members of the party for tea and cake. I hit upon the idea of climbing Place Fell from Glenridding, descending to Howtown and returning on a Lake Steamer to Glenridding.

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Place Fell summit.

And a very fine walk it was, although it was very cold for our second lunch stop on the summit.

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I was pretty confident that this would be an enjoyable walk; it’s one I’ve done many times before, in particular, when we used to have family get-togethers at Easter in the Youth Hostel down below in Patterdale.

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Skimming Stones.

I’m pretty sure (and I will get around to looking it up eventually) that Place Fell has a fair smattering of Birketts, but I wasn’t too bothered about that today. I did however divert up High Dodd simply because it looked very inviting.

I was pleased I did because the view of Ullswater was excellent from there.

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Scalehow Beck from Low Dodd.

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Cascade on Scalehow Beck.

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This waterfall on Scalehow Beck looks like it is probably very dramatic, but it’s difficult to get a decent view of it from the path: the photo only shows the top of the fall.

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I was surprised to see that this tree, an oak, had come into leaf, because I’ve been watching for that to happen at home, but I was sure that it hadn’t.

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The walk around the shore from Sandwick to Howtown through Hallinhag Wood is delightful. And was enlivened for me by the appearance of a pair of Treecreepers, not a bird I see very often.

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Here in the woods, most of the trees were still bare, so this tree, in full leaf…

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…and a cheerful bright green – I think a Sycamore – really stood out.

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Arthur’s Pike and Bonscale Pike.

We arrived in Howtown with only a few minutes to spare before the 5 o’clock sailing of the Steamer and no time for the planned tea and cake interval there.

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But I think we all enjoyed the pleasure cruise. I know that I did!

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I’ve almost reneged on my promise of some ee cummings before the end of April, but after a trip to Howtown I can’t resist this:

anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn’t he danced his did.

Women and men(both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn’t they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain

children guessed(but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more

when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone’s any was all to her

someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)they
said their nevers they slept their dream

stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)

one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was

all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.

Women and men(both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain

Place Fell

Homework – About Silverdale

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The George Whittaker Memorial Park.

Little S has Easter holiday homework – to produce a leaflet about the village. His interpretation of that brief was to design a kind of promotional pamphlet: ‘Why You Should Come to Silverdale’. He asked me to accompany him around the village to take some photos to include. Obviously, I was more than happy to do that – this is the kind of homework I like to help with. As a preliminary, I asked him to first draw up a list of places he wanted to visit and a sensible route taking them in.

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It was interesting to see the village from his perspective and the places he chose as important.

Incidentally, the ‘Climbing Tree’…

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…wasn’t on his list, but fell conveniently between the Park and the Pepper Pot…

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…both of which were.

S thought it important to include some places where potential visitors might stay, so we called at Holgates Caravan Park…

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I’d decided that I would be on my best behaviour: I had a photographic assignment to fulfil and wouldn’t be wasting time pursuing my own agenda. But then this singing Goldfinch, just by Cove Road, dented my resolve…

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Our next port of call was The Cove where Little S was far more interested in the smelly cave and the opportunities for climbing on the rocks…

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Than in the view…

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Or any birdwatching prospects…

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Shelduck.

Meanwhile, any good intentions I’d harboured had sunk without trace, foundering on the luscious purple of these Violets…

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…and the surprise of Early Purple Orchids on the Lots…

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When a relatively pale and largish bird flew up from the field into a Horse Chestnut, B asked whether it could be a Kestrel. I must admit that the same idea had crossed my mind, but it was soon apparent that we were wrong. It was a Mistle Thrush…

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We were edging towards the tree, trying to get closer in order to get better photographs. When two Jackdaws landed nearby, I assumed that the Thrush would flee, but not a bit of it…

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More accommodation!

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Gibraltar Farm campsite.

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I noticed these flowers in a copse off Hollins Lane, near to the Wolfhouse Gallery. On a larger photograph (click on the photo to view on flickr) this is unmistakably Cardamine Bulbifera  – there are small black bulbils on the stems, which is how the plant spreads. It prefers calcareous soils, and in this region is probably a garden escapee, although it is endemic to the British Isles. It seems to have several common names: Coralroot, Coralroot Bittercress, Coral-wort.

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“There is a Flower, the lesser Celandine,
That shrinks, like many more, from cold and rain;
And, the first moment that the sun may shine,
Bright as the sun himself, ’tis out again!”

William Wordsworth

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This was a Celandine sort of day, starting dull but brightening up in the afternoon.

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The path up to the Clifftop.

There were other places on Little S’s list, but with the various distractions we were susceptible to, we’d already managed to make a modest walk of less than five miles drag out to around three hours. We decided to make do with what we’d got and head home for some tea.

Homework – About Silverdale

The Peace of Wild Things

Hagg Wood – Silverdale Green – Clark’s Lot – Silverdale Green – Burtonwell Wood – Lambert’s Meadow – Bank Well – The Row – Golf Course – Leighton Moss – Trowbarrow Quarry – Moss Lane – Jubilee Wood – Ring O’Beeches – Eaves Wood 

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Ear Fungus.

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Blackthorn Blossom.

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More Blackthorn Blossom (with photobombing Bee?).

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Gooseberry Flowers.

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New Sycamore Leaves.

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Roadside verge White Violets.

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Emerging Horse Chestnut leaves and flower.

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Ash buds transmute into blackberries.

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Then wacky flowers.

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More Blackthorn.

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Primroses.

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Wood Anemone.

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Marsh Marigold.

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Willow Catkins.

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I liked the colours.

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And the variety.

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And the various stages.

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Obligatory Robin.

In Eaves Wood I thought I could hear Chiff-Chaffs a returning migratory warbler bringing news of spring. However, I’m very suspicious of my own bird identifications, especially when they are based on song only, so I was tempted to dismiss this as a mistake. Tempted that is, until the following morning, when a Chiff-Chaff was singing proudly from the Birch tree right by our kitchen window – incontrovertible evidence that they are back!

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wendell Berry

It’s that time of year again. Lots of evening walks. Lots of photographs of flowers and Robins. And poems. Not e.e.cummings yet. But soon!

The Peace of Wild Things

Rilke

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Sunset
                                             by Rainer Maria Rilke
                                          (translated by Robert Bly)
 
                      Slowly the west reaches for clothes of new colors
                      which it passes to a row of ancient trees.
                      You look, and soon these two worlds both have you,
                      one part climbs toward heaven, one sinks to earth,
 
                      leaving you, not really belonging to either,
                      not so hopelessly dark as that house that is silent,
                      not so unswervingly given to the eternal as that thing
                      that turns to a star each night and climbs—
 
                      leaving you (it is impossible to untangle the threads)
                      your own life, timid and standing high and growing,
                      so that, sometimes blocked in, sometimes reaching out,
                      one moment of your life is a stone in you, and the next, a star.

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Just a short walk this one, to The Cove and across The Lots. Sometimes that’s all you need!

Rilke

Bring me the Sunset in a Cup

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Whether it’s three miles a day, or six, or twenty-seven, a daily mileage target would be unrealistic for me. Some days I just don’t manage to get out at all. On the other hand, sometimes I manage a lunchtime wander along the canal from work and on occasion I’ve been out before work too.

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I could almost certainly manage to average three miles a day, however.

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On this occasion, I arrived home from work, after a fairly sunny day I think, and headed off to Jack Scout hoping for a spectacular sunset. What I got was cloud spreading in and something more muted, but much appreciated anyway.

Having watched the sun set, I decided to head around Jenny Brown’s Point, away from home, and therefore finished by stumbling home in almost total darkness, having neglected to take my headtorch.

I’m feeling the benefits of my regular excursions – whether they’re three miles, six, more or less. Some of those benefits are obvious and tangible – the improved fitness I felt when I was in Scotland at the start of the month, for example – and some are more elusive and difficult to quantify.

Bring me the sunset in a cup,
Reckon the morning’s flagons up
And say how many Dew,
Tell me how far the morning leaps
Tell me what time the weaver sleeps
Who spun the breadth of blue!

Write me how many notes there be
In the new Robin’s ecstasy
Among astonished boughs.
How many trips the Tortoise makes
How many cups the Bee partakes,
The Debauchee of Dews!

Also, who laid the Rainbow’s piers,
Also, who leads the docile spheres
By withes of supple blue?
Whose fingers string the stalactite
Who counts the wampum of the night
To see that none is due?

Who built this little Alban House
And shut the windows down so close
My spirit cannot see?
Who’ll let me out some gala day
With implements to fly away,
Passing Pomposity?

– Emily Dickinson.

 

 

 

 

 

Bring me the Sunset in a Cup

Soft as the Earth

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Sunday afternoon’s walk (after B’s rugby match in Preston and a delicious lunch whipped up  by TBH). It was only going to be a short one: a chance to stretch my legs and grab some lungfuls of fresh air. First I had an errand to run, returning a child’s coat which had been left at our house (which made a nice change from retrieving one of our own children’s lost coats from wherever they have left them), so I walked over to Oak Tree Barn to do that. This is on Bottom’s Lane, near Bottom’s Farm and is really part of Bottom’s Barn, a much better name for comedic purposes, and one which I shall steadfastly use henceforth.

Anyway, continuing to walk from there, I noticed that the sun was setting. There are lots of good places locally from which to watch the sunset: Warton Crag, Jack Scout, Arnside Knott and, closer to home, The Cove all fit the bill. But in a field with Hagg Wood to my west didn’t seem like a great choice of vantage point.

I dithered momentarily about where to go next, but in the end decided to cut across to the Row and hence into Eaves Wood. A gateway in Jubilee Wood gave me another slightly obscured view of what looked to possibly be a stunning sunset…

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I climbed slightly to pass through the Ring o’Beeches. The sky to the South had some lovely deep blues offset with a little pink.

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Also the moon…

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But through the trees I could still glimpse some patches of highly coloured sky and so decided to head up to Castlebarrow. I suspected that I would be too late, and would miss the light show.

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Humphrey Head.

Not quite. The tide was in. The Bay was picking up the pastel yellows and oranges from the sky.

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It was enormously peaceful. It was just a shame I didn’t have the wherewithal to make a brew to sit with and enjoy it.

Instead I decided to extend the walk and head down to The Cove and across The Lots.

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It was getting pretty dark by now and Tawny Owls were hooting on every side. In winter, a spring rises at the base of the low cliff here, but aside from the gentle murmur of the water and the calls of the owls, it was still and quiet.

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Magic.

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And the title? Well, this post could have been ‘An Unexpected Bonus’ but I’ve used that title before. In the previous post, I had intended to quote from Auden’s ‘In Praise of Limestone’. But forgot.

I quite like:

‘soft as the earth is mankind’

But it continues …

‘soft as the earth is mankind and both
Need to be altered.’

Which puts an entirely different slant on it. A bit sinister I thought.

So, I’m going to go for:

‘when I try to imagine a faultless love
Or the life to come, what I hear is the murmur
Of underground streams, what I see is a limestone landscape.’

 

 

Soft as the Earth