Blog Archives

Escaping the City

Though the rains have returned, it’s still kinda nice enough to get out of the city these days.

And it’s so nice to do so.

The orchids are up in the Valdorba, and the thyme blooming.

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Unfortunately, the rains have increased the erosion in many places where there’s not enough vegetation to hold the soil. This bunch of thyme is clinging on, but you can see the rocks breaking away from the side of the gully behind it.

And yes, that is recently burnt vegetation behind the orchid… some farmers just don’t get that scrub serves to hold their soil from washing away down to the Ebro and silt it up, which they complain about later when the farms on the floodplain… flood.

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Hopefully the other plants can grow and help slow down further breaks.

 

Here’s a poem I wrote recently about getting into the countryside.

 

Birdsong Outside the City

 

Something calls, unseen, to me

Hidden in a willow tree of a copse

Alongside a swift river tugging

Tangled dangling fronds and

Flooding islands, a place

Providing people only invitation,

 

Unheard above the cars of

The city where blackbirds scream,

 

A small, soft, birdsong twittering

Like a signal, reverberating in

This stillness, resonating

 

As far as childhood; deeper,

Into bones, birth, bringing

Relief like a lost boy seeing

Family, safety, a memory.

 

A song saying stay, for whenever

Could one return?

 

 

 

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Leave off the Light

A little poem as we note the start of spring here.

The bats indeed did come out that night and now, a week later, there are lizards and frogs about, as well as cranes coming back north and storks reclaiming their nests.

 

Leave Off the Light

Leave off the lights

At least until the light leaves;

Let us feel it while it lasts,

Catch sight of birds flying to roosts, crying

As it dies, and perhaps bats will wheel past.

Let night descend inside, too, before

Filling our night with brightness,

Let the life outside touch our lives a little,

For at last there is light as twilight arrives.

First Birdsong

This is a little embarrassing to post.

As a wildlife enthusiast, I should not admit to not taking my kids out into the wild often enough that my son has heard his first birdsong only after he’s been walking for three months…

But life is hectic with a one-year-old and a five-year-old doing dance and swimming lessons in winter, and even though Pamplona is a small city with wildlife all around (including BEAVERS in the river not 200 yards from my house as the crow flies) it’s damn hard to get out of the brick and concrete on a daily basis.

We do go to village on the weekend, where there’s plenty of birdlife (kites and bee-eaters etc…) , but the evening birdsong is not something I’ve experienced with the kids recently.

 

First Birdsong

 

I consider myself privileged

To see hills at a distance from

My window over the garden,

Graced by more than mere sparrows;

 

But my son has just heard birdsong

Today, for the first time, I had time to

Take him to city’s edge and embrace the

Twilit twittering of tits and thrushes

Scolding one another in the gloaming,

And experience, absent the ubiquitous din,

A blackbird’s sonorous cry to spring,

And say, “listen, hear the birdies sing.”

 

 

January poems

 

These were written mainly over the last couple of weeks and seemed appropriate for

the weather and the midpoint of the month…

 

Lived or not

 

If we don’t stop to watch the sunset,

How do we know we’ve really lived that day?

 

sunset

 

Listening to the Birds and Bees

 

Perhaps people no longer

Stop to listen to the birdsong

Because they’ve taken all the birds away

And only sparrows in the traffic stay.

 

 

 

They Doth Protest Too Much

 

Pensioners protest;

They did their bit and are owed.

What have they left us?

 

 

 

Tea Leaves

 

Tea, thinking each leaf

Left China for Ireland, then

Here, I use bags twice.

 

 

On the Death of Bowie

 

For some, no matter how old they go,

They’re gone too young, too soon.

And all we have left to hold is a song

That we can’t help but sing out of tune.

 

 

Poem: Amid the Fields of Oil Seed Rape

This year there is a lot of colza planted around Pamplona – canola oil plants, usually called oil seed rape (though that name is becoming unpopular for obvious reasons: Tisdale, in Canada, called the land of rape and honey is considering changing it’s motto…)
It’s a lucrative crop these days. Anyway, I’ve been driving and cycling and walking through these fields and they made an impact, so I wrote a poem.

Amid the Fields of Oil Seed Rape

I do not take a camera to the fields.
The country is too immense to condense
In a simple snapshot, or fifty.
Surrounded by a sea of yellow
I take only memories, including birdsong,
The touch of breeze in trees, carrying
Sugared scent of oil seed rape
Flowing over brows and filling senses
Such that only memory can contain.

but then I went an took a photo – doesn’t do it justice, though

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