During the first covid lockdown, with its strict travel restrictions, our family discovered a local treasure: a little spot known as Brown Island. Our neighbour told us about it. It’s not an easy place to find. When we went the first time I had to ring him because we couldn’t find the entrance hidden away down a country lane through a small gap in the hedge you’d never notice unless someone like my neighbour told you exactly where to look.Continue reading Strangers Are Some Of The Nicest People You’ll Ever Meet
The Same Old Faces
My wife and I are planning to make some improvements to our garden this year, and one of the things we’d like to do is plant a new miniature apple tree. We like planting trees. It’s fun to anticipate what a newly planted tree will become in the years ahead. But there’s the rub: “years ahead.” Because if you want to eat the fruit from a tree, you need to give it time. A lot of time. You need to let it grow, put down roots, and become part of the ordinary, everyday scenery. It’s only after you look out of the window for years at the same old tree that you start to be able to reap the full harvest of fruit and shade and beauty and all that a tree can be in its maturity. By that time, the tree is nothing like new. The initial excitement of planting eventually gives way to a more settled appreciation and enjoyment of the tree as a part of everyday life.Continue reading The Same Old Faces
Once Upon A Time
This week I’d like to share two poems with you. They don’t have much in common except that they are short. I wrote the first one thinking about how powerful other people’s stories have been in my own life:Continue reading Once Upon A Time
“Well, THAT was magic!”
When my second son was three, he didn’t walk—he marched. Everywhere. His stride may have been short, but it was full of confidence. I vividly remember the day he marched ahead of us into the grocery store, but had to pause as the automatic doors slid open. He watched them closely, then announced as a matter of fact: “Well, THAT was magic!” Then he marched through.
Was it magic? Not really. I know, and you know, and he knows now that he’s older, that automatic doors don’t operate on fairy dust. There is a mechanical, electrical explanation, and it all adds up and it all makes sense. Yes. But isn’t it amazing? The doors open themselves! It may not be magic in a technical sense, but isn’t there something magical about it?Continue reading “Well, THAT was magic!”
The Discipline Of Being Overwhelmed
Beside the road, the grass was parted into a path created by the feet of those who had walked there before me. I didn’t know the destination, but I had time, so I decided to follow the lead of those feet and find out where they were going.
It was a good decision. The path took me over a rise and around a corner, then sloped down gradually with a panoramic view of the ocean in front of me. On the right, the ground sloped down sharply towards a rocky cove where people were swimming. On the left, there was no ground. Only a sheer cliff, and the waves far below.Continue reading The Discipline Of Being Overwhelmed
Sometimes you just need to go
Outside of the buildings
Outside of the lights
The screens and computers
And digital fights Continue reading Outside
Snapchats, Stories, Fleets, and Glories
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Snapchat is drowning in it. Twitter’s recent addition of “Fleets” to the top of their feed looks like what Instagram, Facebook, and Linkedin call “Stories,” and all of them work off the same principle that launched Snapchat to prominence: impermanence. It can be daunting to think that what goes up online never comes down, and the solution from every social app is now to offer a way to post temporarily. Now you can say what you like and dance how you please, knowing that after 24 hours the evidence will be gone and no one will be able to cancel you for it in twenty years. Usually the strings of temporary stories at the top of my news feeds are filled with simple pictures or short videos of everyday moments like stencilled coffees, beautiful sunsets, and random complaints. Sometimes they are encouraging thoughts or recommendations. Whatever they are, if you don’t look at them in their allotted time, you’ll miss them.Continue reading Snapchats, Stories, Fleets, and Glories
You Don’t Have To Own It To Enjoy It
We found a rope swing near our house. It’s hanging from a tree that is not on our property, in a field that is empty and waiting for development. Our neighbours showed us how to find the path where people walk their dogs, where the one tree stands alone in the middle of wide open green—a green studded with more wildflowers than we would have thought possible.
It’s not our garden, but our children can run there.Continue reading You Don’t Have To Own It To Enjoy It
Why Lynyrd Skynyrd Should Have Tried Bird Watching
One of the greatest symbols of freedom in the world is a bird on the wing. He has no restraints, he owns the sky – not even gravity can keep him down. The bird can go where he wishes, when he wishes, and no one can stop him. He has a freedom of movement far beyond our own, and it’s little wonder that his wings have become a symbol of unrestricted liberty. All of which inspired Lynyrd Skynyrd to sing that he was “free like a bird” when he left the girl who loved him, because he “must be travelling on now”. Sorry girl, but “this bird you cannot change”.
Which makes me think that Lynyrd Skynyrd was no bird watcher. If he had been, he might have done things differently.Continue reading Why Lynyrd Skynyrd Should Have Tried Bird Watching
“I Feel Like I Need To Whisper”
We turned a corner, and the view opened up. From the porch of the ruined manor house we could see the cultivated gardens around the lake, fading into forests sheltered by distant mountains. We had to stop and stare. My ten year old son summed it up:
“I feel like I need to whisper. I don’t know why.”