17 March 2013

With the old moon in her arm

Chatting with a friend (in the real world, not online) this week, I remarked that one of the things I enjoy about compiling this blog is that I think about it a fair bit even when I'm not sitting in front of the laptop. Whether I'm walking with Iz in the mornings, or cycling, or doing bits and pieces in the garden, or visiting friends, I have the inner as well as the outer eye open to what's around. So, thanks dear readers (yes, there are some of you out there, a small but perfectly formed audience as I like to think of you) and sons for putting up with these maunderings and giving me the opportunity to look at my small corner of the world more closely.

Doing just that this week, I saw a tree creeper in our local park. It was a cold morning and I had paused underneath some scots pines to enjoy the gentle warmth of the early morning sun on my back; I saw some movement high up on the main trunk of one of the trees. The way the bird crept up the bole of the tree, the flash of its white breast and its size were all easy enough to conjugate into tree creeper when I got home and checked. I'm a bad birdwatcher, a la Simon Barnes: I look, I see a bird, I enjoy it. Other birds that caught my eye this last week or so have been the ubiquitous gulls and wood pigeons on the local playing fields, a swirling cloud of starlings and a hawk along the motorway today, and of course the normal--and always welcome--sparrows, blackcaps, chaffinches and blackbirds in the garden. I think I caught a glimpse of a greenfinch in the garden too this week, but I'm not certain.

An old ballad came into my head this week on my cycling commute when I had to stop to enjoy the new moon with the old moon in her arm; reflected light from our planet was illuminating that bit of the moon not directly lit by the sun and the whole disc showed faintly within the embrace of the bright arc; it's a beautiful sight. This weekend while walking in the cold midland mists of a Kilkenny dawn, I found that being up early has its rewards: a dawn chorus (that you can listen to here), trees and skeletal umbels rimed with a hoar frost, and a lengthy misted sunrise.
Morning mist and a spot-the-schnauzer

Winter umbels
Close to the spring equinox, but winter weather
The cold weather continues to confound us all. There hasn't been a lot of gardening going on, though I'm conscious I should at least have sown tomato seeds by now! I resolve to this coming week. No, really. While visiting friends in Kilkenny at the weekend I was put to shame by all their seedlings (tomatoes, peppers, lettuces) looking  happy and healthy. I was able to scratch the gardening itch while down there by doing a few tasks in their lovely garden, although I secretly suffered the usual space envy that suburban gardeners get when we visit those who garden on a few acres and live surrounded by fields and trees. Lucky me to have generous friends who share their space so graciously. Thanks C and W for a good dose of laughter (helped by B and the death star) and great cooking and baking thrown in. And thanks to A for sharing some salchicha from home.

Inside, away from the cold, I've been trying to draw different textures... with limited success. (Practise, practise, practise).

Texture time: cherry tomatoes and a start on a lichen- and moss-covered branch

Have a good week all.


  1. Deborah Montgomerie18 March, 2013

    I REALLY loved this post. And a lichen & moss covered branch! This weekend I & my neighbours have been pruning our apple trees (we share a common ground between the 7 houses) & I have been gathering special branches to draw :-) I also adore the 'new moon with the old moon in her arm' it sounds like the title of a celtic ballard :-) Thanks so much. Deb

  2. Thanks so much Deb, glad you enjoyed it.

  3. 19-03-13

    Are you incapable of taking a bad, boring, banal photo?
    'Schnauzer off to confront the Apocalypse' &
    'Close to Equinox' both have an unearthly beauty. Encore1

  4. Well a bit of mist adds to the atmosphere no end! :-)