Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Marshland sights and sounds

On my last visit to Swanscombe Marsh I was initially struck by the sense of peace and quiet but the more I wandered, the more my ear became attuned to the variety of sounds in the landscape. Whenever I stood still to concentrate and take a photograph, I became aware of the insistent, sibilant rustling of the reeds, the creaking of the willows, the warbling and chattering of various birds and the occasional strident cry of an unseen pheasant that seemed to be stalking me. The mournful, melancholy hooting of the riverboats and the distant background clanking and beeping of machinery were a constant reminder of the human activity taking place on the periphery of the site. In the little creek the masts of the boats rattled and jangled and the wind tugged at the flapping tarpaulin.

Everywhere were signs of life emerging from the long sleep of winter - trees in bud, pussy willows and silver birch, yellow coltsfoot, an incongruous clump of daffodils, and fat bumblebees lazily buzzing around. As well as the flocks of black headed gulls circling the river, I also saw mallards, coots, magpies, pigeons, and some sort of unidentified warbler swooping low over the grass. Other signs of activity were less welcome - the burnt patches of grass and evidence of pollution in the pools testifying to man's intervention in the landscape. Nature, however, seems to be able to adapt and make the best of things in the most inhospitable and unpromising places..... 

Friday, 10 May 2013

The joys of spring

It wasn't so long ago that the fields were covered in a carpet of snow or else submerged under huge puddles of muddy water. There were no signs of life, the sun was in hibernation and winter seemed here to stay. My mood became correspondingly blacker as the months passed. In the last few weeks the sun has woken from its slumber and has gradually been working its magic - the landscape is transformed and my spirits are lifted.

Although everything is at least a month late, it was certainly worth waiting for - the wooded hillside is covered in a carpet of primroses the like of which I have never seen before; the blackthorn's beautiful white flowers adorn the bare branches in the hedgerow, resembling a Japanese painting; the daffodils on the village green turn their heads to catch the sun's rays; even the dandelions light up the verges in a riot of bright yellow. As the memory of the dismal winter slowly fades, it's at times like these that I really appreciate living in the country....

Friday, 3 May 2013

Not Dark Yet

"Behind every beautiful thing there's been some kind of pain"

Not Dark Yet, from Time Out of Mind
Bob Dylan