Monday, January 30, 2006

The Sands of Morecambe Bay

As well as forestry scenes I am attracted to images of the sea shore. (See some of the Cyprus stuff from Nov and Dec). This pencil drawing, some 30" square is of a stretch of sand on the large tideway of Morecambe Bay, not far from Lancaster. At low tide the sea can recede four miles or so and the approach of high tide can have the sea advance so rapidly, the unwary can be quickly overwhelmed. From the middle of the sands all sense of scale can be lost. Is this a picture of a small or large area? The ridged pattern recedes into a seeming infinity.
And yet for all the danger and the Bay's deadly reputetion this is a beautiful place. In winter the geese and ducks are heard calling in the pre dawn chill before they begin their dramatic dawn flight. Several waves of vee formations fly inland to the Leighton Moss bird sanctuary to feed.
Twice a day the tide rises and falls in a rythm that mirrors the cycle of life itself.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Silent Counsel

Over 100 feet tall, they stand aloof like sentinels. Widow tree that have seen their brothers and sisters felled to make paper, furniture,buildings. They now stand to protect the new generation from wind and weather. They keep their silent counsel.
They hear your thoughts and listen to what you have to say. They never answer back. The trees keep their silent counsel.Yet when I walk away, I've heard something.......

Friday, January 20, 2006

The Clearing


Man-managed forests have swathes cut into them to prevent forest fires spreading. Nature creates its own breaks by randomly blowing down trees. When left to its own devices these ravages heal and turn into something beautiful.This peacful scene rather belies the savagery that brought it about.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Living by the Precepts

Lancaster Zen Group's meeting tonight (it meets every Monday evening) looked at what "Living by the Precepts" means in Buddhist life. We stressed to those new to meditation that this was not so much a list of divine commands as a choice to live by the guidlines set out in them, e.g., avoiding killing, stealing, lying, drunkeness, recreational drugs, avoiding anger, not slagging others off an so on. There are ten such precepts.It is only by living in this way that real inner peace can be found. They [precepts] are a logical follow-on from starting to meditate. Its much more than a mere "chill-out". Rev.Mugo touched on this in her entry for Jan 7, titled "Great Determination."

Sunday, January 08, 2006

A Stillness as of Evening

There is an anthem I used to sing as a choirboy all those years back. The opening lines read;

"Comes at times,
A stillness as of evening..."

This is how things are sometimes. The rush of life becomes irrelevant for a while and the stillness supervenes. The forest at evening can be like this. When there is no wind, what is heard.
Some wag will say, and I've said it myself before, "Its so quiet, all I can hear is my tinnitus." Yeah. Sometimes that. But even it dies down eventually.
Listen to the sound of silence.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Old Teachers Remembered

I left school way back in 1955 having had the good fortune of being in a grammar school now long since gone. Anybody remember West park in Sunderland (UK)? I'm sure that at the time I was probably one of those pupils the teachers thought getting some knowledge into his brain was something of a challenge. Well there are two teachers I remember from that distant past to whom I can look with some gratitude.
One was the music teacher, Walter Soppit, who never rated me much academically, he was probably right, but he did nurture a love of music, especially choral music, which has stayed with me all my life. Indeed it was he who improved my sight reading abilities, though it was not part of the syllabus as I recall.
The other teacher was a Mr. Thorn. His first name I never did get to know. He was a firm disciplinarian who taught English (not as a foreign language). He introduced me to many literary gems. He was brought to mind today as Brenda and I sat watching a video of a BBC programme about Jerome K Jerome's "Three Men in a Boat." In the video three TV personalities re-enacted the story. That brought back fond memories of the teacher taking us through the book.
There are of course all the other schoolteachers who have contributed to my childhood education and each have made some memorable contribution, and not necessarilly as part of the curriculum. Most of them, if not all are probably dead and gone by now but that still doesn't detract from what they have done. Modern day teaching seems to be a thankless job and to these people we owe a debt of gratitude.
Sometimes when I am doing things I can, in my mind's eye see them there, never judging but being heplped by those intangibles that wre never conciously given us.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Fire and Water

Even these grey January days in these northern latitudes are not without their compensations.
As I walked along the riverside to the studio with yet another estuary fog for company, the mists parted just as rapidly as they had closed in earlier. The mists parted enought to reveal the mirror flat surface of the Lune. The sun was already setting, it being mid afternoon. The red disc of the sun wallowed in a fog bank and transformed this grey mass into a glorious vermilion-red. The river picked up the reflection. The whole scene resembled a Turner painting, but where Turner tended to do yellow scenes this was a vivid red. It all lasted but a few minutes before the sun dipped behind the Bowland fells and the familiar greyness returned.
Later that evening the fog cleared giving way to clear skies in which the stars shone brightly despite the city's light pollution.As I walked back from the studio a hard frost had set in.

Monday, January 02, 2006

An even quieter New Year

I picked up a cold around Christmas Eve, felt a bit off colour then. But since, it has evolved into a full blooded heavy cold. I don't get colds very often, but when I do, I make sure its a good-un. By New Year's Eve it seemed to have subsided somewhat. Then at about 9-00 pm it re-asserted itself with a vengeance. Consequently I took to my bed before midnight. Some Hogmanay, eh?
Habby Dew Year ebbry-one.