The Art exhibition of Ruth Koenigsberger at the Teatro Aracena has just finished this December. We were really fortunate to be in the Sierra for this and we have many memories of times spent with Ruth visiting the Donana Wetlands for bird watching and photography. For those who follow this blog closely Ruth has featured many times with her art and photography. She has also drawn some of the characters and places in my novel and then turned her creative talents to painting birds during these past pandemic years. I intend to show more of her Bird Art and talents in the year to come.
For now I will give you a poem I wrote for Christmas inspired by the paintings below by Ruth Koenisgsberger and the European Crane, (Grus grus). This incredibly large and beautiful bird migrates from the North of Europe to the South during the winter months. We heard a story of a Spanish writer who as a child looked out of his window and saw the cranes calling and flying in the moonlight. Childhood experiences of the beauty of nature can stay with us and inspire us.
A Child’s Christmas in Southern Spain
Stories are told of the olive and dove
While high in the sky in the dawn’s new light
The children look out to the sky above
To spot long necks and great wings in flight.
The Cranes are coming for Christmas
The Cranes are coming for Christmas
Fe Li Ci Da Des
Fe Li Ci Da Des
Na Vi Dad
Great bodies descend to the earthly ground
With wings outstretched they graciously land
Their calls sing out the most heavenly sound
Long legs extend to the beat of a band
The Cranes are marching for Christmas
The Cranes are marching for Peace
Gathered together on the rich wet earth
Their journey long to a climate more mild
In pairs they now dance for a special birth
A gift they bring to each precious child;
The wonder of the wild.
The Cranes are dancing for Christmas
The Cranes are dancing for Love.
Fe Li Ci Da Des
Fe Li Ci Da Des, Na Vi Dad –
Happiness, The Birth of Christ.
Wishing you all a very happy, peaceful and safe Christmas as we continue to live through these anxious times. I also feel inspired to continue in 2022 with more about Ruth’s exhibition, paintings and her flight into the light with such a variety of colours and different techniques inspired by birds and the beautiful nature in the South of Spain.
Here’s to 2022, Hope, Light and our dedication to nurturing nature in all its beauty and diversity.
At the turning of 2019 to 2020 there was hope. For so many it has been a life changing year and with challenges for all of us. January 2020 was a milestone as my younger daughter turned 30 and celebrated in style with many friends. She was one of the lucky ones of her 1990 compatriots. Then in March, all changed and she was sent her shielding letter. In many ways she has been isolating since but with the good fortune of her wonderful partner and their dogs.
I was going to write a post about pre lockdown at Navasola. We had two very full months with our visit to the wetlands of Doñana and walks around our local villages.
My plan was to post on each of the villages of the Sierra Aracena. It was soon too eerie to do that and no walking outside was allowed under the very strict Spanish lockdown. I was fortunate to have acres to work in and clear new paths like a wild bison and and to have an indoor sanctuary for writing.
I was also ready to post about the art classes our friend Ruth Koenigsberger started for her friends. We were first learning about how to use light and shade. We went and sat by the marble rocks of a disused quarry. There were some worrying news items but at the time in Andalucia there were few cases and all seemed contained. Then it seemed sudden as we were all put into ‘confinamiento’. The photos are from the post I never posted at the time! We have been fortunate that Ruth has continued to share her skills with us and her latest paintings.
I worried about family in the UK. My older daughter was pregnant and a nurse. We talked and agreed how many close family and friends had health issues that made them more vulnerable to this virus. She came through a more anxious pregnancy than in normal times. We were blessed with a beautiful baby girl in October.
From March to May we followed from a distance a very personal and difficult encounter with this virus. My close friend’s husband became ill. At first perhaps, it was like a flu and shingles but it changed to terrible difficulty in breathing. He did not want to go into hospital but was encouraged to by all, including my older daughter who knew him well. We were relieved he was in the best place. He was helped with oxygen for his breathing and he never really lost consciousness but his lungs were severely damaged. Two weeks after his 70 th birthday on VE Day he passed from this life. This leaves that unfathomable loss of a close partner and soul mate for my friend but his work as a writer and academic, his astute wry understandings, friendship and warm hospitality are a loss to us all.
I found myself with very ‘tight’ finances and some loss of income. I reluctantly cancelled some charity giving. But in April I responded to the London Marathon Charities appeal. So instead of running 26 miles I decided to write 26 poems for Nature and fundraiser for the birds whose songs brought a lot of joy to folk in lockdown. I have been fortunate to have many fellow bloggers, friends and family contribute to this. I will keep the link open a bit longer as ever in hope of more contributions to the much needed restoration of our natural world. This challenge certainly kept me blogging and writing poetry when I was not fully minded to write much.
Ruth allowed me to use some of her paintings which also inspired poems. Nick and Trevor also gave much information on many of the plants and creatures around us in the Sierra.
As the year ends we can look back and we do miss seeing and being in close contact with all our friends. Perhaps we have made more phone calls and zoomed but we do look forward to hugs, bear hugs and lots of real reunions. Thank you all who follow me in the virtual world and for all your inspiring posts, photographs and creativity.
I have spent a long time trawling through photos and trying to save those on Whats App. I also looked at drafts on my blog and was surprised by many I forgot to post or it was well past the post it date. The memorial writing below comes from a draft post in 2015. It was about our Quaker wedding and the different perspectives on the Quaker ideas of Light, God and Love. I also listened to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi speak about light and love being increased within us when we expand our conscious mind by transcending in meditation. I was thinking about a more philosophical blog at the time and then started on writing a novel.
One close friend was absent from our wedding. She was a devout catholic who died from leukaemia within a week of her 60 th birthday. This was on her memorial card and I love the way it makes the connections between light and love. In a very divided and wounded world we hope to find ways to restoring health for all life through love and understanding our complex world. Enlightening ourselves. Or as Quakers say ‘holding each other in the light’.
There are brown birds, blackbirds, multicoloured birds, white birds. Sometimes it is the brown birds that are easily overlooked, not colourful enough. But when you look closely, the browns are so varied and so beautifully marked, full of different tones and hues, perfectly adapted to their life in the woods.
This post is in memory of George Floyd who can no longer be with us to hear the winged creatures of our wounded world. May he be at rest and his family find solace in God, friendships, the beauty of nature and justice.
And there is a link to an article that I found very moving published in Sierra Club,an old established American conservation organisation. We have to understand and act against the kinds of thinking that allows our natural world to be destroyed and for many brown and black lives to not matter throughout the world. https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/racism-killing-planet
To the beauty of the brown bird whose name we do not know. A japanese style painting by Ruth Koenigsberger.
These are poems about some of our local birds seen from our porch. All woodland birds but very wild, cautious, shy perhaps and not easy to photo. The serin stayed just long enough balanced on a thin stem of wild cress that was left on our ‘lawn’ for pollinators to enjoy. And they did gather. We wish we saw more but we hear them and then they hide if we start to look for them. Wild birds do not seem to like eyes staring at them.
On Not seeing the birds for the trees
Somewhere in the woods
Behind a branch, beyond our gaze.
Birds are heard
If you dare to fix your eyes
Let the leaves dazzle your days.
10. Blue Tit or Herrerillo in Spanish, Parus caeruleus in latin
What’s in a name?
A titter or two?
But not in Spain
Where more rare
the tiny herrerillo
Is a sight to see.
To paint perhaps.
11. Redstart, Colirojo real in Spanish, Phoenicurus phoenicurus in latin
Not seen for so long
You fly into our life for water.
Fresh feathers feel cleansed.
Dash of red dips and dives.
Stay a moment more.
12. Goldfinch, Jilguero in Spanish, Carduelis carduelis in latin
Gilded gloss on olive trunk
I see you for the first time.
Once you lived in pines
B graves of the long dead
In a far off place.
13. Firecrest, Reyezuelo in Spanish, Regulus ignicapilus in latin
Slow flight up each branch
Of the young cork you dart
Looking for something
That you will find
And I will not.
14. Serin, Verdecillo in Spanish Serinus serinus in latin
Hello, who are you?
Upon the fine stem
How do you pose,
unswaying, long enough?
Camera shaken, book taken
To discover the name
You already knew.
If you would like to sponsor me on this 26 poem challenge the link is below and on the previous poems too. These poems are all written in my 26 word format. This time more freestyle than haiku and other Japanese forms with certain syllables to each line.
What do women need in order to write, be creative, fulfil their potential? The writer Virginia Woolf claimed it was ‘ A room of one’s own’ and wrote about this in the book with that title. I am back now in my sanctuary room at Navasola and adding a few more finishing touches to my novel. I am struggling a bit with the time needed to fully prepare for self publishing and still trying to be noticed by agents I send the work to. 12 weeks wait now!
Looking at what I have needed in the past I am grateful to those who fought for our right to vote in the UK. I am also grateful to all those who pressed for better working conditions and maternity rights. Without these steps life would be quite different today.
In Manchester we were fortunate to go to some art exhibitions linked to those in the suffragette movement. It is one hundred years since women were given the vote. One very creative artist who painted and drew working women in the North of England gave up her art work to devote all her time to the suffragette cause. A loss for Art ? A gain for all women. Some of her work is below and can be seen in the Manchester Art Gallery.
Sylvia Pankhurst, daughter of Emily Pankhurst, was a trained artist and went on a journey to various places to record the lives of working women in 1907. The Pankhurst family are famous for their leading role in the Votes for women/ suffragette movement. This collection belongs to her granddaughter.
After seeing this collection we thought this would have made a wonderful book and record of the lives of women like our grandmothers. One friend’s mother worked in the potteries. Here the use of lead had terrible effects on health. My granddaughter, Olivia’s great, great Aunt started work at age 14 in the Bolton spinning mills. However, Sylvia Pankhurst was compelled to spend all her time on the Votes for Women campaign and all those women worked tirelessly to create the change needed for our generation.
During my time in the U.K. I have been attending to all the wonderful stuff that we women often have to attend to. Family and friends and looking to the future.
I have enjoyed watching my baby granddaughter go through some amazing changes in the past two months. From beginning to grasp with one hand to coordinating both hands to bring things to her mouth. Getting ready to feed herself? Rolling one way and getting stuck to rolling both ways and onto stomach and back. Getting ready to move herself along! And lots of sounds as she experiments with her voice. But the most amazing smiles as she has fun and recognises us.
It seems important to really stand up for the right to a clean and safe environment and to protect our planet and the natural world from further destruction. The young people of this century deserve this and our generation must listen and respond with actions.
Spain and Navasola have been busy too, responding to events. Thankfully a lot of rain in the Sierra has created much green and new running streams at the finca. In Spain, there have been some amazing marches all over the country for women on International women’s day.
I can also only salute and give support to the young people of America suffering from the effects of gun crime and their determination to overcome personal tragedy and create a safer society.
Change has happened. Change will happen.
Sometimes as with Sylvia Pankhurst we have to sacrifice our own individual creativity in order to give time to create the changes that are needed. Sometimes we have to harness that creativity to be part of the changes needed.
In love and hope to all who follow my blog or just pass by.
What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wildness ? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet ;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.
Gerard Manley Hopkins from his poem about Inversnaid
Today on the second day of the quote challenge it is certainly wet here in the Sierra Aracena. This is not surprising as we live within a triangle of some of the most rainfall for Andalucia. The hill or mountainside we are on is 730 metres above sea level. The peak of Castano is about 861m. It can often be in the clouds. However in the summer it can be very dry and hot. The area has been cultivated for many centuries, there are many megalithic sites and later the Romans grew vines here. Settlements after the Spanish Inquisition developed more chestnut orchards and pig farming. There are some areas which are more wild and these tend to be on the higher parts and deep valleys. However, the trees have given a green and moist canopy to the hills. It is now a natural park and conservation of the environment is high on the agenda while balancing some of the needs of farmers. It is also home and inspiration to many artists, photgraphers and film makers. Soledad Fenandez Coll is a naturalist and artist from this region and her name will link to her art currently on display at the virtual gallery of Artagora.
There are some more photographs of the old and abandoned chestnuts on the footpath to the village of Galaroza. Photographs are by Ruth Koenigsberger. Some were featured in Quote 1 and an earlier post on Autumn Walks. Ruth and Sol are currently exhibiting their art at the ARCO event in Madrid where both are involved in the alternative way to show art: Room Art. Some of Ruth’s art is also on the November 2015 archive on the virtual gallery Artagora.
I’ve always loved this verse of Gerard Manley Hopkins. He was an artist with words but who saw the challenges of keeping wild places. I hope we can all speak out, write, draw, paint and inspire others to protect the wild world.
The Quote Challenge
Thank you Jenny for nominating me and we seem to be on similar journeys finding out more about the natural world but on the opposite sides of this globe!
For this second day challenge I nominate the three blogs below with a focus on photography and inspiring a love of nature. This is all just part of a fun challenge which may bring to our attention more interesting blogs. Nominees should feel no pressure to create their own quote challenge. I have nominated these blogs as they all capture some wonderful photographs of the diverse world we live in.
I am so pleased I have the opportunity to share the photography and links to art work of my friend and neighbour Ruth. Her photographs come from walking around the countryside with her dog, the lovely Lotti. ( featured in previous posts and a surrogate dog for me at present!) When I can I walk with her and breathe in the beauty of the changing seasons we have here. I have also shown her garden with all the poppies in my previous post and haiku to Liberty, Love and Light. The link is to her art work at the Artagora Galeria Virtual Ruth Koenigsberger. I love the way she can capture both colour and light. For me there is a deep link to nature in her work and a spiritual light within her creative art. Try the link on her name and walk round a virtual art gallery too! There are castano trees, ancient chestnuts from the Sierra and the Caldera in La Palma but also some imaginative interpretations of our world from the inner eye of an artist.
I miss all my friends in the Sierra Aracena as I have to be in the UK for a short while. Many there live a peaceful lifestyle that can bring them close to the natural world through organic gardening, permaculture, spiritual practices, yoga and of course the creative arts. It is almost a year since I wrote Bats on my Birthday and have found blogging useful to warm up my writing muscles. I hope to write more stories and poems to help us come closer to this wonderful and diverse world of nature.
For this week I want to highlight the need to care for the living systems on the planet. There are so many people who want to rise above the atrocities in Paris and send a message that we must change the way we live in this world or the living planet will suffer and not be able to give us and all other creatures the habitats and food sources we need to thrive.
As I cannot walk on the Climate Change March on the eve of the talks in Paris I will try some virtual walks like this one in the Sierra Aracena. Let’s hold the Climate Change talks in the light and where possible petition and campaign for the change our planet needs.