Tag Archives: nature

Cultivation


Weed
we spit: anarchist
we accuse

Some snap stems
discard seed, grasp leaves, dig dirt until
each root is forcibly freed, but some
use herbicide
for ease

"Die, weed, die
we cry with glee. Double dahlias
are what we need, let's buy chemical feed
to raise crowds of blowsy blooms
from cultivated seed"

Bees leave
seeking pollen that they
can reach

Along steamy streets
pockets of green tickle pavements
trying to conceal the waste which heaps
feigning innocent sleep

Beyond engineers' steely mess
residing beside lost dreams, hedgerows
explain the harmony between species. Trees strain 
to clean our mistakes, seasons
struggle to progress

A frayed leaflet
caught in the wake of a chance breeze
asks

Which Path Will You Take?

©Jane Paterson Basil

Paul’s Words

sun-rays

Can it be our planet breathes?
It breathes through weeds and leaves on trees.
It seems to need to seed and breed
to please the needs of human greed.

So does it bleed through birds and bees
to feed our breed, bloodthirsty thieves!
The worst of fiends, the first to leave
and deemed to scream and curse and bleed.

©Paul David Ward

I’d have been proud to have put my name to this amazing poem, but alas, I don’t have the right, since it was written to my son Paul.

After a separation of almost fourteen months, we are now in contact again. He lives 45 miles away, and we agreed that at this stage in his recovery it would be safest for both of us if we don’t see each other yet – not that the current lock-down rules would allow it – but we text each other every day. He’s had a difficult time, but has grown from it. He managed to get several thoughtful birthday gifts to me in February, and even bought me a tree for Mother’s Day, but by then the restrictions were in place, so I haven’t received it yet. I feel proud of how far he’s come, and hopeful for the future.

Winter Cocktail

leaf-1364485__340

At cocktail hour at this time of year
bright colours vacate to hot places
like Italy or Spain.
Skies slide into leaden grey,
grumpily gunning to fulfil a bleak threat of rain,
their perfidious clouding slyly announcing
that dusk is well on its way.

Brittle twigs cling to knotted limbs.
Catatonic in the bitter air,
their scribbled crisscrosses laid bare,
bereft of the layered frock
that veiled bland dwellings
which crouch, blind-eyed
beneath my lofty window.
Spring’s brave growth crumbles to mulch,
all pride, grace and levity faded away,
its flesh consumed for future gain.

I pause mid-thought, my mind
resorting to fantasy:
might these spectral skeletons
recall unfurling
to make safe hiding places for fledgling birds?
Perhaps they remember saluting the June day sun
their emerald hands swaying in celebration,
and nudged by a temperate summer wind
dancing, jiving, twirling.
Perhaps they relive
the betrayal, the brittle break,
the skittering fall.
Maybe they grieve, and yearn
the loss of green youth.

©Jane Paterson Basil

The Day of the Beech

beech leaves

The neighbourly beech rests dormant
in the Christmas chill, its fermenting finery
forming a crisp blanket at its feet.
Before the weather heats, brave buds
proceed to labour from the tips of twigs; determined spikes
stretch narrowly as if toward a pin-prick sun.
Emerging like wind-burnt field workers wizened by the years,
they peel back their tough leathern tan
revealing tender infancy as Spring
tiptoes in.

The tree
breathes in tune with the beat of my childish heart.
I have built a host of annual rituals, without which, my year
would be incomplete. Nature dictates
the day that each one takes place.
Fingers, sticky with Easter chocolate, itch,
telling me today is the day;
the day of the beech.

Familiar with its generosity, I’m confident
the tree does not resent
my Easter treat.
Reaching up, I pluck
an opening bud.
Later, these unfurling hands
will make complete the beech’s canopy of shadowing green
to keep both sheep and cattle cool in mid-day heat;
all too soon, the adult leaves
will be too tough for me to eat.

Gazing skywards
at the abundance within my low reach, I feel the sweetness
of young leaves between my teeth, and taste
the honeyed birth of Spring.

As I age, I recall:
the fine filigree of a skeleton leaf, emblazoned with a frosty frill,
the seashore smell I toted home, tucked inside a cowrie’s gummy grin,
courageous early snowdrops, rising through a frozen throw,
an orphan feather’s windswept pirouette, its slow descent its frail defeat,
the flavour of a beech bud…
and I remember
the elation that came with every found treasure,
the fascination, the sense that I must not fail
to savour
each
moment
since every single speck of being
is unique.


One day, family and friends will retain memories of what they know of me, but I’ll have no memories of my own; all my unique memories will be gone. No-one will ever know exactly how it felt for me to eat a mellow beech bud beneath a special tree, on a warm Easter day, just as I am unable to taste the precise flavour of your experiences and memories. We come and we go. We are replaced by new life, and that’s OK as long as we reach our full span.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Where Dirt is Clean

grass-1435883__340

We grow too great to discern the details,
rising until our brains
break through the ceiling
into a dusty room where those before us
have soared and suffocated in shallow pursuit.

Blinded by the murk, we stain our minds with
what might have been, what could be,
ambition clouding the need to return to our roots
where earth suffers for our science and greed.

Lie by my side
where grass tickles skin,
where ears listen to insects that sing,
where life holds no record of seconds and minutes,
where breathes the core of our being.
Lie silent with me where dirt is clean
and we are real.

.

Written for The Daily Post Daily Prompt:  Core

©Jane Paterson Basil

Fascinating!

leaf-1364485__340.jpg

I’m fascinated by the small details of nature:

The way the fronds of a feather lock into place – a technique that we crudely imitate in the production of zips.

The fragile beauty of a leaf skeleton after the body has fallen away.
It’s like the complex criss-cross of lines on my youngest daughter’s hand. A palmist would have field day with Laura’s reading.

The freshly fallen fruit of the horse-chestnut tree – the spiky outer layer, the whorled pattern on the conker as it vacates its soft, fleshy womb.

Tiny green shoots emerging from the ground, illustrating the complexity of life and the miracle of survival.

When it snows, I hold my hand out and watch the soft flakes melt, although it leaves me with a fleeting feeling of sadness, like when icicles drip away to nothing.

I watch bees collecting pollen, butterflies enjoying a midsummer dance, ants pushing clods of food toward their nest, flowers breaking out of their buds, the varying species of seaweed on the seashore, seashells, and even the smallest chunks of worn-away glass and driftwood.

I am riveted by giant forces of nature, too:

The shapes and colours in the sky, at sunrise, sunset, noon and night. Each season and every mood of weather brings its own interest.

Storms excite and revitalise me. I like to be outside, with the rain pelting down, and the lightening throwing brief, dramatic images across the landscape.

Wild seas draw my attention; the sight of waves as they break, splash and crash, the music in the sound the ocean makes.

But trees are the most fascinating of all; those gentle plants with their beauty and variety, the abundance of flora and fauna they harmoniously support and live alongside, while they help to hold the planet together, clean the air and make it safe for us to breathe.

Finally, I used to get a kick out of casually observing the clumsy art of adolescent flirtation, amused by how subtle they considered themselves. For example:

A small group of girls encounters a small clutch of boys. Without warning, the girls crank their voices up a couple of notches. The boys ignore them, so the girls get louder. They say things like.

“Oh no! It’s them. I hope they haven’t seen us.”

“I don’t think so. We’d better get out of here before they do.”

If that doesn’t work, they switch to high-pitched, giggly, theatrical chatter about make-up, or they might bitch about the latest victim of spots or bad hair. Eventually the boys notice them. There’s a flicker of interest. Time to repeat “Oh no! I hope they haven’t seen us”, et al, and flounce off, weaving around a bit so that it’s easier for the boys to catch them up. Half-an-hour later, they all reappear as a single group. The girls are insulting the boys. The boys are lapping it up, although  their carefully practised lazy gait is distracting them somewhat. The girls are flapping their arms about, energetically twisting and turning. 

Job done!

It’s all changed. The progressively smutty lure of time has stolen their innocence. I prefer to close my ears to the obscenity. I’ve heard eleven year old girls claiming to have been party to sexual experiments that I have never dabbled in, and wouldn’t wish to.

Trees are sticklers for tradition. Unlike young teens, they are always discreet.

Written for Calen’s Sandbox Challenge, Exercise 10.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Mellow morning grazers

Today I offer you a quintessential picture of rural North Devon, beautifully painted by my sister, Christine, and borrowed by me. You can find more of her paintings [here].

Today I offer you a quintessential picture of rural North Devon, beautifully painted by my sister, Christine, and borrowed by me. You can find more of her paintings [here].

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A New Dawn

dewdrops.jpg

Dawn breaks, translucent,
highlighting clean summer hues,
inviting celebratory songbird crescendos
as it tempts dewy buds into bloom.

The World feels renewed,
rinsed clean of all error and sin,
poised at the apex of opportunity,
fragrant with fresh green beginnings
patiently waiting for us to wake
repentant, healed, forgiven and forgiving,
and gently live in blissful harmony.

The early morning news
shatters my happy reverie.

Written for The Daily Post#Harmonize

©Jane Paterson Basil

Distant grazers

I thought it was time I slapped some real art onto my blog, to show the difference between my image tweaking and genuine talent. This was painted by my sister, Christine Basil, but I wouldn’t have reblogged it if I didn’t find it beautiful

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christinebasilsdailysketch

Plein air site study done very early in the  morning looking over the Taw estuary. I could see the cows gradually approaching the front of my vision so just carried on painting the hills behind while I waited for them. It was a serendipitous moment. Such moments only arrive if you have the chance to go and find them. I love the peace at this time of day, I feel a communion with nature.

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River

River1.jpg

It tempts me;
its silvered surface shimmering,
singing swishing songs of thrilling terrain
way beyond regal, towering trees
which cool its clean, unfeeling floor,
beyond eroding ochre banks
where brave blades of grass battle the flow.

“Follow,” it trills,
“follow, beyond your mediocre days,
beyond worn lanes and dark pathways;
beyond the things you know;
follow where I go.
Follow.”

 It tempts me,
as, endless, it flows,
impatient to take the next bend, frothing
at inanimate objects that would slow it,

secretly stealing shreds
of shrinking stones and rotting logs,
to stash wherever they may land.

“Follow,” it trills.
Beneath the lilting descant shrill
I note a deeper, throaty tone,
as if it’s sung for me alone;
this lulling intimate refrain,
“Follow where I go.
Follow”

No single body this,
but a mighty band of haphazard travellors;
an offhand crew of discrete molecules,
too miniscule for our dim eyes to see singly,
as they weave, sharing the road awhile,
then parting company,
perhaps to meet another time;
in the sky, in water pipes,
or in some distant clime;
the whole planet their home,
racing forever on,
adventurous travellors
with ne’er a planned destination.

“Follow,” it trills,
“follow, beyond your mediocre days,
beyond worn lanes and dark pathways;
beyond the things you know;
follow where I go.
Follow.”

Ever tempted to give chase,
  each time I stay where I feel safe.

~o~

©Jane Paterson Basil