Daffodils In a Garden for Peace

I have spent this last weekend of March in the UK at Woodbrooke Quaker College Birmingham, and I wandered around the garden of many acres to find the different types of daffodils. I gave up counting. Some were very different, some differences were very subtle. Some were fading away or being eaten. Some were in their full glory. I was bounded by time and the need to return to the conference talks. Perhaps the daffodils reflected the topic of our weekend about Unity, Diversity and Boundaries. Although there were many different points of view as there are often are within Quakers there was a unity and peacefulness in the stillness of Meeting, Woodbrooke and its Quaker history.

On return I thought the daffodils and stillness should inspire some writing and Dverse poets hosted by Sarah are working on the Villanelle form. So I have given it a go. More on the form and the links to past poets at end of poem.

 

 

 

 

An Infinity of Daffodils

(Woodbrooke Quaker Garden, March 2019)

What are words worth when silence calls?

Too many views but 22 types of daffodil flower,

Pensive thoughts when a pale petal falls.

The worm that wriggles deep within us all.

Now frays the edges of the yellow cloud shower.

What are words worth when silence calls?

We gather together to tear down walls.

Dare we dare  discern eternity within one hour?.

Pensive thoughts when a pale petal falls.

Bright orange clothes a host of petals small.

Elegant trumpets ready to hide the pollen’s power.

What are words worth when the bees need to call?

To live in a way that no longer appals.

To hold in the light the insects’ last hour.

Pensive thoughts when a pale petal falls.

Is it God calls or some wormlike fear?

The fall of a tear, the lost peace of a flower.

Pensive thoughts when a pale petal falls.

What are words worth when silence calls?

 

 

 

 

 

https://dversepoets.com/  For  Dverse poets  this month there is the opportunity to try out the Villanelle form and read a range of these written by the many talented poets who frequent this very convivial and poetic meeting place. Why not have a go? Check on the link and then on Mr Linky at the end of the post.

Note the villanelle form has to have 19 lines with 5×3 line stanzas, finishing with a quatrain, all  with repeating lines and a rhyme scheme to keep to.

Past poets referred to of course are William Wordsworth and his daffodils and ‘pensive eye’ and William Blake with ‘O sick rose’ and the worm and ‘ to hold infinity in the palm of your hand, eternity in an hour.’

Daffodil Notes

As for daffodils, well the number of varieties that have been cultivated seems to be about 13,000. And the number of wild species from 40 to 60. But it seems this depends on how daffodils are categorised and there are different sources for this information. Still a staggering number as there are also so many hybrids too.

 

 

 

Daffodils are from the Amaryllidacae family, think lilies and one of the old names for daffodil is Lent Lily. These beauties seem to like to lighten up lent as the time between Ash Wednesday and Easter is when they are in bloom. It is thought daffodils are a mispronunciation of Asphodels, see those in a previous post. Perhaps also the English made a play on words with daffadowndilly. Narcissus of course is a name given to this range of species and Linnaeus decided on Narcissus poeticus when he began to classify them. They seem to be the poet’s flower.

Wild daffodils originate from the Mediterranean region and  there is a wild one we saw near our Navasola home in the south of Spain; the wild hooped daffodil. There is also a wild species in the U.K. that can still be found growing wild. The Wildlife Trusts have this link as to where to go. There may not be  the ‘ hosts of golden daffodils’ that Wordsworth saw in the  Lake District but it is good to know that the wild species can still be found.

Wild daffodils in the U.K. https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/where-see-wildlife/where-see-spring-wildlife/wild-daffodils
P1010076 Small Wild daffodil, hooped daffodil,in Southern Spain in  early April2018

My outcome for the weekend was ….to enjoy: swinging high, walking and watching the geese on the labyrinth, a visit to Cadbury’s Bournville village and watching an amazing woman play the carillon bells. And the conference….threw some light on what unites us.

 

 

Lets hope Spring is not blown away by another cold spell and possible snow.

And let’s hope with so much political turmoil the beauty of nature can unite us and the stillness we can find within bring peaceful and positive outcomes.

Decision Day for the Doñana Wetlands. A visit to see some of the birds.

We took a day out to the Doñana Wetlands a week ago and for this week the 21st of March is a decision day in the European Parliament for securing the future sustainability of this most important habitat. The wetlands are becoming drier because of more use of the underground water table and rivers.

View of lake at Dehesa de Abajo with carpet of red flowers

We took a short walk around the Dehesa de Abajo reserve on the edge of the Doñana wetlands.

Visitor Centre at Dehesa de Abajo, always full of storks nesting.
Stork nesting near visitor centre at Dehesa de Abajo

We had  a wonderful day out and come back feeling ‘filled up’ with birds. The closeness to storks nesting in nearby trees and wild flamingos swimming with necks underwater in the lake all made for a very bird fulfilling day. We also saw spoonbills, glossy ibis, egrets, linnets, black kites and buzzards.

glossy ibis
Flamingo dipping
Linnet on fence

 

Spoonbill flying

The only shadow of the day is the knowledge that Doñana is at risk, with very low water levels but there is some action and Doñana is at the centre of a political battle for its survival. Local groups have taken the issue to national and European levels. There will be a decision made on the 21st of March at the European parliament that will hopefully outline the measures needed to protect this very special place. This could be an example of how the EU can be used to support and negotiate between different local and national interests.

Egret having to think about this. It makes the head hurt.

The Doñana wetlands have been at risk and the water levels becoming unsustainable since at least 2013. There are a significant biodiversity of species that need these wetlands, including the iconic and threatened Iberian lynx. This area was designated a natural park by Spain and is also under the European Network of protected areas for nature.

Glossy ibis having a think about this or a scratch

We have been to visit on various occasions and in particular we like to walk around Dehesa de Abajo. This is more on the edge of Donana and quite accessible from Sevilla. It is also near the bird sanctuary of Canada de los Pajaros. This is only open at the weekends but is worthwhile to visit and support their rescue efforts. There is also the International Bird Fair being held again at the Visitor centre of Dehesa de Abajo from April 26th to 28th. These are birds without borders that need our support. http://www.donanabirdfair.es/home-2/

Stork in field near Canada de los Pajaros

 

Spoonbills flying overhead

There are many pressures on this area of wetlands situated between the cities of Huelva and Sevilla. It seems there are many illegal wells extracting water for various reasons and there are four gas projects which are about to begin fracking for extraction of gas. Environmentalists and others have taken their concerns to the European Parliament as this should be a protected site under Spanish and EU laws and is also  recognised by UNESCO as a unique habitat and important place for migratory birds.

 

One comment in a Spanish newspaper was about the need to balance the social economic needs of the region with those of the environment. The point of the International nature reserves networks is to protect against these pressures where the wildlife sites are crucial to many species across Europe. It is the first major wetland after the long migratory journey from Africa and across the Sahara  Desert. Any further deterioration and loss will affect too many migratory birds. It is true to say that the Huelva region has suffered greatly economically in the past 10 years but  the way to address this is not to pit this against these protected areas. Sustainable economic policies are much needed. Doñana could be a flagship as to whether the wetlands can be saved and measures taken to restore it where needed while also looking into the local economy and ways of improving this without drawing on the water table that supports these wetlands. I read recently how the Galapagos Isles were saved for the many unique species and restored within three years. It can be done.

 

A bull from the friendly herd that grazes the edges of the lake

The area has long had a rice growing economy, river transport and boats. Some of the new agriculture seems to stretch further away from Donana but does include vast strawberry growing. This kind of agriculture is very dependent on water throughout the whole year. Traditional Spanish agriculture is referred to as ‘dry’ and involves most growing taking place before the normal Mediterranean dry summers. This  new business of fruit crops throughout the year, along with changes in the climate, more erratic rainfall and longer periods of drought will impact on the water tables and the wetlands if there is more unsustainable methods of agriculture. Changing to more use of renewable energy instead of new projects to extract gas from an area where the fragile water table could be disastrously affected should also  be the way forward.

Unfortunately we see in progress a major threat to important wildlife habitats through the old ways of ‘business’ and economic growth. Spain could lead the way on this one with the support of European initiatives. Meanwhile students ask for a climate emergency to be declared. One Spanish poster and cry was ‘ Ni un grado mas ni un especia menos ‘ Not a degree more or a species less. The ideas of a Roosevelt style ‘green deal’ are thrown up into the air.  The UN report gives 12 years to ensure global temperatures are kept from rising too high. Will there be action for a circular economy and not ‘business as usual’? Doñana and the future for its biodiversity is at stake now.

So having filled you up with the complexities of nature conservation and economic growth let me finish with  some more of the birds that filled me up with such delight.

Flamingos on the lake
We enjoyed their swimming antics
Bottoms up

We came for the large flocks of flamingos before they leave.

I can only hope that in the years to come I can take my granddaughter to visit Doñana so she too can have the joy of being filled up with birds. And the birds can have safe places to stop at where they can fill up with food and create their next generation.

 

And here are more storks and other birds peacefully coexisting surrounded by an ecosystem supporting all kinds of life.

Stork walks around the ibis and egret

 

Lets all be like this egret and keep a watchful eye on what goes on around us. Our survival and that of this beautiful planet and all its inhabitants may depend on this.

The Watchful One.

Asphodels in Alcoutim. A short walk to the old fort. And one more river to cross.

It was the time of year to meet up with an old sea scout connection and talk about their time building boats and sailing these along the Thames and out to the North Sea. This meant an overnight stay in Alcoutim, on the river Guadiana in Portugal. It is an ideal place for sailors who don’t want to be at sea or cold during the winter.  We took a short boat ride on the Guadiana river to see another self made boat, had an amazing but typical Portuguese lunch and dessert at the praia fluvial, and then a stay in the youth hostel with private room, bath, balcony with view and breakfast included. We were recommended a visit to the remains of the old fort which was uphill but not too far from the youth hostel.

 

Ash bl youth hostel from river
Alcoutim youth hostel as seen from the Guadiana river.

 

 

Ash blog wagtail
Trotty wagtail [ motacilla alba] after the poem on rigging of the boat Edewisa. A self built boat and named as an acronym of wide sea.
The following morning we were ready to go up to the hill fort after a good breakfast as I wasn’t inclined to take a dip in the large but very cold swimming pool. The wifi also gave me a chance to browse and there was a post from Nightingale Trails, and Theresa Green. This blog has so much detailed information about Spanish and Southern Mediterranean nature. The post was on Asphodels. We have a few growing at Navasola so it made for a good early morning read. We then ambled off for a short walk.

Asphodels

It is certainly a walk worth taking for the views and it begins on the road to the youth hostel, with its dome observatory shaped building. On the track up we saw some crested larks and some late almond blossom and one purple bugloss. Usually they are found in swathes in the dehesa fields between the holm oaks. As walking far is a feat nowadays we almost went back as we rounded a corner where we saw one candlebra shaped asphodel. It was almost like breaking a dream or a wordpress nature post coming alive. I thought that might be it for the day but decided to srcamble up a possible short cut to get into the fort. It was perfectly possible and the gate could be opened into the fenced off hilltop fort.

Ash bl ashphodel
Am sure this is asphodel aestivus or the common asphodel but there is also asphodel ramosa.

We entered and then walked along a narrow path lined with so many Asphodels. This  flower has now gripped my imagination thanks to Theresa’s blog and then all my camera shots. The fort at this time of year is a trip worth taking into present and past. The hill top fortress has a Celtic origin, a mosque and later fortifications as it stands looking across the natural border of the River Guadiana between Spain and Portugal. Defensive but facing the more modern looking white one on the Spanish side and the small town of Sanlucar.

Ash bl walk views

The Asphodel walk around the hill fort.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the top of the hill fort and entrance in.

The Asphodel has also inspired writers in the past and is part of Greek mythology. Having read up about its links to the afterworld I am not so sure that this bright and white flower deserves the link to death. However, it seems it is the flower of the meadows for the common folk  to go to after dying, for those who neither achieve greatness or have been so bad that another place is where they must go to be punished. For most of us it seems it could be the Asphodel meadows rather than the Elysium fields which is the more well known reference and the special place for the warriors and those with some importance. Perhaps best not to be spending time with those. The French had the best idea of equality by creating their own Elysium fields in Paris; the Champs Elysee, for all to enjoy now! I had never made the connection.

 

Some misty morning photos over the Guadiana river. If I was a boatier person we might have ended up here rather than landlocked in the Sierra Aracena. But there’s only so much time in one life or perhaps these can be the asphodel meadows to ‘retire’ to next!

Rather mystical but real foggy weather in a warm climate by a river. Certainly not the Styx. But there’s a ferryboat back and forth. And these days lovely friendly people on either side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do visit Nightingale Trails for more botanical and other information on Asphodels but also for a mine of information about Spanish flora and fauna. https://nightingaletrails.com/2019/02/23/asphodels

And her blog in the U.K.  everydaynaturetrails for  some wonderful nature insights into wild Wales. https://theresagreen.me/

And for longer walks now Restless Jo is in the Algarve https://restlessjo.me/jos-monday-walk/

And more of the Algarve, culture, nature, great bird photos and walks from Becky B https://beckyinportugal.com/2019/03/07/hiking-algarve-caldeirao/

Poetry Pantoum for Dverse. Childhood Memories Revised

Here is my revised version for the Pantoum following Gina’s suggestions to include interlocking rhyme. Am not sure if I lose some spontaneity or if the poem or is just different. However the aim of these month long attempts at different forms is to try and revise based on helpful comments. I have always been a strong advocate for the redrafting process and have many revisions of my novel too. This was interesting to try out so feel I should now update. It has also been an interesting journey into memory and childhood. I am perhaps reliving some of this as I watch my granddaughter, now 18 months.

The former post is below this one with more comments on the Pantoum form and links to Dverse.

A The sounds of childhood reverberate, 1

B The love, the loss of carefree years. 2

A The young child needs to stay awake, to wait, 3

B So she may sleep without those fears. 4

Stanza 2

B The love, the loss of carefree years. 1

C A black cat purring comfort on the bed.2

B So I may sleep without those fears,3

C The deep Harley revs reverse the dread. 4

Stanza 3

C A black cat purring comfort on the bed, 1/2

D Fear of loss no longer forms a tear 2

C The deep Harley revs reverse the dread 3/4

D My father’s voice, my mother’s near. 4

Stanza 4

D Fears of loss no longer form a tear 1 /2

A No need now to stay awake, to wait. 2. /

D My mother’s voice, my father’s near. 3

A The sounds of childhood reverberate. 4

Reflection

E The lilac tree in bloom in Spring.

B The love, the laughter of childhood years,

E In the garden of games with songs to sing.

B But sadness for some just bring back tears.

B The love, the loss of childhood, fears.

A Learning to be awake to patiently wait.

B With the past in its place without the tears

A The sounds of childhood reverberate.

Comment from Gina ‘your interlocking lines worked, rhyming would give you better flow, you can chose to do the traditional abab or try aabb or abba’

If anyone is still reading I am happy to read any comments and will respond in kind as soon as I can. ( Not on wifi till beginning of April)

Former Version below

Dverse poets are exploring different forms of poetry each month and my challenge is to try and write one. I missed the sonnet but managed the Rubaiyat and now for March the Pantoum.This form originated from Malaysia and was used by famous French poets e.g. Victor Hugo and Baudelaire and in current years the Flower Drum Song is an example! This form has an interlocking and repeated line scheme. 

https://dversepoets.com/2019/02/28/18102/  link to Dversepoets.

Gina presents for Dverse  about the form and gave us some line schemes which I decided to keep in but have have still managed to get confused by. But I have tried to interlock.

‘The interweaving of repeated lines in a pantoum suits the poem particularly well to ruminations on the past, circling around a memory or a mystery to tease out implications and meanings. The change in context that arises from the addition of two new lines in each stanza changes the significance of each repeated line on its second appearance. This gentle back-and-forth motion gives the effect of a series of small waves lapping on a beach, each advancing a bit farther up the sand until the tide turns, and the pantoum wraps back around itself.’  By Gina for the Dverse prompt. Gina’s blog is https://alifelesslivedblog.wordpress.com

I also read a few from the early posts of others and loved the nature one by Kim at writinginnorthnorfolk.com. This was certainly evocative with images of waves lapping, sanderlings feeding  at the edges of the sea and the mystery of migrating birds.

The Clock of Tides and Stars (revised)

I wanted to try a nature poem but the page was blank and I began to think about childhood memories and the page began its first line. The memory has been triggered also by some discussion with my daughter about leaving my granddaughter with me for a few days this summer. We both discussed some of the anxieties felt as a child when parents are not nearby! I would lie awake waiting for my parents to return with our wonderful family cat on the bed, always purring. From the first stanza the second and fourth lines became first and third in following stanza. The penultimate or fourth stanza reuses lines from the first. The last stanza seems extra and in couplets but perhaps is the reflection or not needed. Any comments greatly appreciated.

Childhood Fears

The sounds of childhood reverberate, A

The love, the loss of carefree years.      B

How long will I stay awake to wait,       A

So I can sleep without those fears?               B

Stanza 2

The love, the loss of carefree years.     B

A black cat purring comfort on the bed.  C

So I could sleep without those fears,         B

The deep Harley revs brrrm loud and clear.   D

Stanza 3

A black cat purring comfort on the bed,    C

Those fears of loss are put to rest.                           E

The deep Harley revs brrrm loud and clear.  D

My father’s  voice my father’s near.             D

Stanza 4

Those fears of loss are put to rest,                          E

No need now to stay awake, to wait.            A

My mother’s voice my mother’s near,           D

The sounds of childhood reverberate.          A

Stanza 5

A lilac tree smells sweet in Spring

In the garden of games with songs to sing.

The love, the laughter of childhood years,

For some those years bring back the tears.

The memory and writng the poem has made me reflect on childhood memories and how the feelings created can still impact on us as adults. Sometimes we refuse to remember but I think it is important to understand our childhood as a child and from a more understanding and healing adult perspective. I was fortunate to have many positive memories but we all have to come to terms with our negative experiences.

Below is one of the early motorbikes my father had after the Second World War. The one I remember more is the ex Belgium police bikeHarley Davidson, with Surrey sidecar to fit all the family( and dogs) in! 444DXB registration, imprinted somewhere in my brain, along with all the trips to the countryside on Sundays. This with camping holidays and pets were the foundations for my love of nature.

IMG_8682

Promises to Keep. Rubaiyat poetry form for Dverse Poets.

Dverse poets are focusing on different poetic forms for each month. I promised myself I would try to do this. So I am posting at the last minute, well almost. I began this poem at the beginning of February when there was extreme cold in many parts and I am finally getting ready to post it as the UK finishes February with the hottest winter days on record.

Here is my attempt at the Rubaiyat poetry form which Robert Frost used in his Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. As ever with my nature hat on I wondered what Robert Frost might make of our relentless onslaught on the natural world. I was introduced to Frost’s poems when young and I was inspired by his observations of nature. I trust that Frost would understand the spirit behind this and that others do not mind my take on his beautiful poem.

Promises to Keep

The woods are full of light and not so deep,

So much land grazed by cattle and sheep.

Forests chopped and chewed away,

Where are the promises we forgot to keep?

 

The freezing air creates more fear.

The snow that falls ice flakes a tear.

Cold blasts kill birds that cannot get away,

Silent Springs of songs no longer here.

 

Driven winds with whirls of weeping ire.

Forests now fill up with furious fire.

Our legacy to this wondrous Earth,

Wilfully warped on a wall of wire.

 

We long for weather that brings us peace.

We long for never ending drought to cease.

When will we learn to live with thoughtful care,

The promise made had far too short a lease.

 

 

Posted for Dversepoets.com Poetic forms February. https://dversepoets.com/

First February Butterfly and the need to deal with the New Green Deal.

Our first butterflies to fly above us with love in the air were two large tortoisehells. Winging their way up into the clear Andalucian blue sky. Hopefully they will mate soon and lay eggs before the next cold and rainy spell is due. With the current news on such drastic decline in numbers of insects it was encouraging to see this particular butterfly. It seems in the UK this species is almost extinct. We are fortunate to live in an area where there is little use of pesticides on crops, the main one being the chestnut trees. However, with the constant fear of fire there is much spraying of roadside vegetation. There has also been much ‘cleaning’of surrounding land and so there will be little for pollinators and other insects to live off. Here they have the ivy along our perimeter wall and hopefully many wild flowers to come. The celandines are just out and although the viburnum is a little late this year, the buds are rosy and ready.

 

Fire Salamander

Another first for me to find was this salamander, known as a fire salamander. [Salamandra salamandra]. I was busy tidying up a wood pile and underneath was this creature. It seems they can live a long time and one in captivity lived for 50 years. The colours are warning signs of a poison named samadarin and it can have nasty effects. This may help its long life as any would be predators keep away from this rather slow moving creature. Salamanders are of interest to scientists as this substance can help skin problems but these amazing animals have the ability to regenerate their limbs and this process is being studied too. Here, this tiny creature which likes moist habitats under wood, mud and leaves  was ready to burrow again and our encounter was deemed over.

 

We began the new year in a rather monstrous tall hotel with views over the eastern Algarve coastline and round to the bridge over the River Guadiana where lies our usual route back to our home in Spain. Here, we were delighted by crag martins who must have decided the hotel was a wonderful cliff face but perhaps not quite right for nesting.

Crag martins in sky over Monte Gordo

Later, on our return to Navasola we made a visit to our local village Castano de Robledo for the Los Reyes, Three Kings festival. We came across more crag martins on the unfinished church now called the monument. This might make a more suitable nesting place but is usually the home of a large colony of swifts yet to arrive from their African wintering lands.

 

We also came across a flock of blackcaps and one was busy pecking away at a rotting persimmon, which is of course when they are at their sweetest!

Blackcap warbler
View of Castano church and orchard which many birds love from the monument

With all the turmoil over Brexit and No Deal it is hard to look at the UK news. It is also hard to sometimes get the main news from the USA too. All seems so divisive and not dealing with reality. So today I was very encouraged to read through an alternative source, Eco Watch about a bipartisan vote in the U.S. on protecting public lands, wildlife and recreation areas.

Agreement across party lines on real issues.

There was also a very informative piece on the ideas of The New Green Deal and historical reference to Roosevelt’s New deal when faced with The Great Depression and the ecological catastrophe of soil erosion for farmers in the dust bowl. Perhaps the U.S.A can begin to lead the world on this as there is past experience but the current changes happening are far reaching and global.

From my understanding there seems to be more public awareness and concern for ecological collapse, wildlife conservation and the impact of the climate changing with more extreme weather across the whole world.

On Friday young people in the UK are joining in with the school strikes that have been held in other countries about the real threats posed by climate change.So many have concerns and hopefully their actions will bring about a positive response from government to listen and lead on these issues.

Cross party cooperation must be the key to dealing with the terrible environmental degradation and  ‘unsustainability’ of our current economic system. A deal with the planet is going to be a tough one but the young are crying out for action, not words and certainly not denial.

My tribute to Mary Oliver and her nature poetry

I have been very inspired by the poetry of Mary Oliver who sadly left us this January. I wish I had known about her when I was teaching. I feel many of her poems are so direct and accessible for young people.

On my short break in Ireland last October I listened to her reading a collection of her poems and shared these with friends there who always inspire me to keep writing.

The Dverse poets group are another inspiration and Grace has done a fitting tribute to Mary Oliver with a powerful selection of her poems. I am a bit slow posting as we have been in Lisbon but I would like to rekindle my attempts at sonnets too.  A challenge for 2019, a poem a month and a post a month!

Here is the link to Dverse and a selection of Mary Oliver poems. Dverse

Ehttps://dversepoets.com/2019/01/24/openlinknight-236

In Praise of Mary Oliver

Words wait to come but first I have to dig and feel the sun
Warm up my back instead of in the cold where wifi weaves
Within a world of virtuous vice that brought me to your light.
A breeze moves among this mix of trees with leathery leaves
That do not fall in time together, but one by one by one.
Hidden within, no fear of death, the birds bring sounds so bright.

Your poems, your voice reached out beyond the wintry chill,
Beyond the miles of ocean deep, with your birds, your trees,
The dipper, grasshopper, dog that ate the Bhagavad Gita,
Moments when you take us from the outer to the inner
To focus on the smallest things and show determined will
To see this precious world, its wild ways, and be at ease.

 

This is not a sonnet yet! It needs two more lines and checking for scanning. And it’s cold inside with the wifi and glorious outside. Am going out to bring in my supply of home grown potatoes, close the gate to my huerta. Photos of our Wild or overgrown finca!

Enough poetry for now. But an offering for January!

P1050892

Nature needs Nurture

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