Archives for posts with tag: seasons

Fallen leaves

The days are so short now that the light is often fading by the time I get up to the park, so I’m watching where I put my feet (it’s often muddy) and with my eyes down what I mostly see is the ground. But this is often the best place to look for the most colour and beauty on a dark misty afternoon. I can’t help picking up leaves one after the other just to marvel at them – whole trees look spectacular when they turn gold, as some do – but individually every leaf is a world of beauty. There are so many of them lying around everywhere, making a nuisance of themselves on the paths and lawns and having to be raked and swept up – and yet each one taken separately is so incredibly lovely and every one unique.

Most of the trees have lost their leaves now, and this year some never turned the truly glorious colour we hope for in Autumn anyway, but near the Beechcliffe entrance there are three handkerchief trees that always turn a wonderful golden yellow, and these still glow in the fading light, so yesterday I did a fast sketch of one of them before the cold made me move on.

Handkerchief tree

I did a brisk walk, round to the pond, (enjoying the fountains) up to the Castle (a quick look at the animal houses that are still not finished, but it was too dark there to draw) and over to the playground where there were a few mothers, hands in pockets and coats zipped and buttoned, with children all open coated and un-gloved running about and climbing on things with never a thought for the cold.

Mothers in the playground

It may be damp and cold (and the forecast is for it to get colder) and the afternoons may be short and dark, but out there in the park there’s colour and life in the landscape. 

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Spring seems to be having growing pains. Only ten days ago I was sitting outside in warm sunshine and now that feels like another year altogether; its so cold I feel it in my bones. The wind whips across the valley and lashes freezing rain against windows and doors.

Occasionally clouds get driven apart by the wind, and the sun briefly pans across the hillside. One afternoon this week I sketched from the window and tried to catch the sunlight as it as it ran along the fields. It’s futile; I can never do it, but watching it is irresistible.

A few days ago I walked down to the river. I hadn’t meant to go, but once I was outside I realised that as it had rained the previous day and most of the morning, the river would probably be up, and the usual sluggish flow might be something rather more exciting.

As soon as I got there I scrambled down the bank to get as close to the water as I could. You get a completely different feeling about a river if you can get right down almost to the same level as the water; suddenly you begin to realise the power of the movement, the strength of the surge, and as I crouched down to take pictures I understood how easy if would be to get swept away if you slipped and fell in.

I love rivers. There’s something about watching moving water that is so compelling; it holds your attention like nothing else and allows you to stop thinking, to let go. A couple of years ago I spent a  day at the Strid in the Yorkshire Dales, a really dramatic stretch of the river Wharfe where the stream is forced between a narrow channel in the rock and churns and boils as it thunders through, and standing there you’re even more aware of the power of water, and what it can do.

It was this day at the Strid that led me to develop the designs for jewellery that I later called the River Collection, and from that moment on I kept coming back to the idea of the river as a point of visual reference. But the idea of the river goes beyond this as a source of inspiration. As Rumi wrote:

“When you do something from your soul, you feel a river flowing in you, a joy.”

I’m not the only one around here that spends time looking closely at things. After several grey days the sun broke through this morning and all of a sudden it felt like spring. I was glad to see these two figures in the distance, one of them with a camera, peering intently at the crocuses that every year cover this bank like a snowdrift.

I love the way the season, the weather and the time of day can alter everything so dramatically. I can go for the same walk on a different day or at a different time, and suddenly be stopped in my tracks by the sight of something astonishing.