Finding Things to Enjoy Right Now…(and what not to).

How do we embrace the Autumn?

We may be finding ourselves sliding into worry again (if it ever really left) – for the world is insane, unfathomable, and the news almost offensively-familiar. Some people are back in lockdown and others wonder if and when it will be re-instated. We wait for the doors to shut and try not to think about all the repercussions once more. And this time we will not have the luxury of the long daylight hours, and the beautiful warm weather we enjoyed in the spring. We cannot help but think it will be a phase of quiet dullness with no novelty this time round – we have slightly tired of the ‘well this is making us appreciate reading/ catching up on box set viewing / home cooking’ etc. phrases. Second time round we really don’t want to think about the tiresome problem of finding somewhere that stocks plenty of loo rolls and has a good supply of marmite. We don’t want to plan our wardrobe so that we can look good from the waist up when taking a zoom call. We want to dress up properly and go out! We want to be able to choose a new winter coat and some snazzy boots that we might even be able to show off! For me, even the online yoga has palled a bit, as has the indoor walking. All these things have had their place, and indeed, still help keep us sane, but when we knew the restaurants were open again it didn’t take us long to drop the ‘woo woo’ stuff and leap off out. We don’t want half-hearted any more, we don’t want sorry attempts at being normal, yet at the moment that is what we have to accept.

But we are nothing if not resilient. We may fold our arms for a moment or two and grimace at the thought of what could lie ahead, but then our hard-core, steely reserve kicks in and we make the best of things. Again. That is what we do and what we are good at. And deep down, most of us do enjoy the small things.

So here are a few things that help me find some comfort now that a different kind of Autumn beckons …

The moon – Dust off those binoculars and get ready for the eleventh full moon of 2020. October’s moon was dubbed the Hunter’s Moon because preparations for winter began around this time. The next full moon doesn’t grace our skies until October 31st, but each night I have been moon gazing; the position of the now waning crescent moon is low in the sky and has taken on an extraordinary golden colour. One can only look and marvel at this loyal companion.

The colours – Oh the beautiful colours and traditions of autumn. From walks among the crunchy fallen leaves, to harvest festivals with the wonderful, abundant fruits and vegetables, the golden colours envelop us. The pumpkins in particular, grace our window ledges, stacked in all their golden glory, waiting to delight us with their spooky glow at Halloween. In October, the sun sinks low in the sky, the light mellows and takes on a rich amber hue so loved by photographers. Perhaps it is because my birthday falls in October but it is one of my favourite times of the year. The cosiness is there without the bone chilling cold of deep winter. And one can have an enormous bowl of porridge for breakfast with a drizzle of cream knowing it will bolster you up for the day….

Then there is the wildlife to beguile us. The pheasants, scampering and squawking through the ploughed fields and the geese who seem to fly over our rooftops most nights in their amazing v – shaped formation. The last few nights I have been lulled to sleep by owls hooting. Sometimes it sounds like just one, other times perhaps two, hooting back and forth in their night-time conversations . Looking in my bird book, I learn that great horned owls begin setting up territories in October. Apparently, they mate for life but begin their courtship about now. Perhaps I am lucky enough to have a pair of great horned owls living nearby! Some say the sound of an owl hooting foretells something untoward but I like to think it is something rather more romantic.

Hello Comfort.

Autumn lovers wave goodbye to those pesky tee shirts that show the worst bits of your arms and the skimpy sandals the cover your feet in blisters. We can welcome fleeces, UGGs and an abundance or warm, soft clothing. We can drink hot chocolate and eat home-made apple pie whilst wrapped up in a cozy throw on the sofa. Or how about some hot apple cider? If you have never had mulled cider before why not give it a try? Just pour a bottle of your favourite apple cider into a pan, with 3 cloves, I cinnamon stick and a sliced orange. Gently heat for ten minutes so that it infuses, cool slightly, then pour into glasses. Tastes delicious and so reminiscent of the days when we could meander round Christmas markets.

I guess we all want a bit of decadence in our lives; to relive the joy of dancing, and have a bit of a knees up from time to time. We can’t have that just now but we can dream of good times that will come again. Perhaps until then we can adopt a sort of sanguine resignation to the latest restrictions, look after ourselves and our mental health, and toast ourselves with a glass of cider.

The Comfort of Trees

It’s extremely windy here today on this late summer day. The colour of the sky and the dip in the temperature warns me that Autumn is approaching. Normally I would be out walking early in the morning, but as the grey light filtered through the window and the rain pattered hard on the glass I preferred the comfort of my cosy bedroom and a hot cup of tea. Looking out, I could see the flock of crows flying haphazardly in the wind, their raucous noise silenced for once. I wondered where the friendly blackbird was – I have often seen him flying in and out of the garden, sometimes stopping to perch on the shed roof or rustle around in the flowers beds. I miss his sound and his company; he has been singing beautifully recently, even in the early hours. I hope he will return. I have been lucky to spot a song thrush recently too. In Irish mythology it is said that the fairies, the underground people, like to keep song thrushes at the gates to their underworld, because they like the sound of the music echoing down their long halls.

There is a sycamore tree at the end of the garden and I lay watching its sturdy branches swaying in the breeze. Maybe my blackbird sits hidden in its comforting branches.

I once read an article about the healing power of trees and learned that sacred trees with healing powers are found in every culture and age, and seen as a gift from the Earth Goddess. I was urged to go out and find a tree I was particularly drawn to and sit and lean against its trunk. This I did (feeling a little silly). But as the sun filtered through the leaves and my feet connected with the earth, it did feel like a positive experience.

Now, with the world feeling so different it is these simple acts that can help us feel more connected with nature, with the essence of life, and the healing power of our Earth. Our surroundings have been far more quiet lately, but now as we emerge and adapt, we can hold on to the stillness when we need to.

Here are a few of my poems about trees….

The Tree
Just off the path in the leafy wood
Stands an old majestic tree,
Its branches spread like open arms
Reaching out to me.

There’s a canopy high above my head
With leaves of green or gold,
Depending on the time of year -
The seasons that unfold.

I can lean against the roughened bark,
Plant my feet upon the ground,
And feel the gnarled and twisted roots
That are circled all around.

And I can dream of all that happens here
As I lay tucked up in my bed,
Hear the hooting owl who roosts aloft
And nods his wise old head.

I think the fairies alight there
After their midnight flight
From their magic city underground,
To frolic through the night.

And in the early morning sun,
Like a landmark to show the way
The tree stands in the breaking light 
Of yet another day.

Leafy boughs dip and bow
And freshen the dampened air;
They bend to sweep the forest floor,
So tread softly if you dare.
Where I’d Like to Be

I’d like to be up
In my favourite tree
Where the wind whispers
 Through the beech leaves
And sounds like softly falling rain.
Here, the wise old owl
Looks benignly on
The troubled ground
As if he knows
The world will heal again.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Checking The Apples and Time Passing During Coronavirus Lockdown ….

How do we feel about the passing of time?

 

I was looking at an apple tree in our garden which we planted about eighteen months ago. The first year after planting it didn’t blossom and we were worried that it would never be pollenated. This year, however, we were pleased to see buds forming in early spring. As I wandered into the garden last night for some air, I looked at the rosy apples on the little tree – shiny, healthy and covered with raindrops, and I realised that the span of time from the early buds, to the now almost mature apple harvest, was the same as that of the start of lockdown to now – a time when we are seeing the loosening of lockdown and the re-opening of hospitality services. Apart from thinking about the quiet confidence and constancy of Mother Nature, it made me think about time.

Does time pass differently during times of great change or worry? If we think of the first day of quarantine, does it seem like yesterday, or a lifetime ago? I have heard many people say that during the coronavirus crisis they have noticed time passing more strangely than normal. Some complain of days dragging on and on, yet others feel the past months have passed eerily quickly. In can feel in our minds that time ‘warps’ very easily. Perhaps this is to do with our worlds shrinking and being kept between our four walls. We have stayed at home for the majority of the day, with the highlight of the day being a walk or a visit to the supermarket. We haven’t been performing many memorable activities, necessarily, although that is beginning to change now. We have missed travelling, missed going out for dinner, and days have blended into one, with weekdays feeling the same as weekends.

Perhaps, because we haven’t made so many new memories or been on holidays, we perceive time has passed swiftly.

Key workers who haven’t had the opportunity or luxury to stay at home and isolate may look at time entirely differently. It may seem as though the period of time lasted longer than normal. Many people have been busier than ever, whether working on the front lines or at home balancing a full work schedule while trying to home school their children.

When we eventually emerge from this time of immense challenge and isolation, perhaps some of the more mundane routines we have had to follow will turn out to hold more memories than we think.  We have been challenged to spend time alone or with others in our household and have been given a chance to learn how to cope with boredom and isolation. We have learnt how to set goals, however small, taken time to read, or engage in other quarantine-friendly activities in very tough times. Perhaps we have found the time to engage in those important conversations we have put off for too long. Perhaps we have found time to look inside ourselves and even look at life through fresh eyes. Perhaps we have taken the time to really think about others and rediscover compassion that sometimes can take a back seat during busy lives, no matter how well-meaning we are.

We don’t always realise how much time has passed, until we look back. And we are going to look back on so much. Heartbreak and fear have walked hand in hand with just trying to ‘get by’. We have seen fear take over and people lash out, and we have seen staggeringly good deeds carried out by those who have put themselves on the line. We have seen human nature pushed to its limits. We have all been hurting – everyone of us, for others and ourselves. Thank goodness for the small things.

I am grateful for my apples

 

apple apple tree apples branch

Can’t Say No to Tomorrow

 

For those of us thinking about the next step out of lockdown …..

Time has settled round us –
Yet drifted like a stream
That slowly meanders,
And passes us unseen.

A day is a year, a year is a day
When life is put on hold,
Too many separations and longings,
Too many stories left untold.

But don’t forget to greet the sun,
For it will always rise
Like a beacon, for us waking
To these uncertain skies.

So the blackbird sings louder,
As if with a message in his song –
We cannot stop the summer
Tho’ the winter has been long.

Yes it’s going to be a new day,
But the memories we will keep
Of a time that brought a new way,
To live, and love, and weep.

© Lyn Halvorsen

 

The fields looking extra green this year…..

 

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A Poem for Lockdown

 

 

Who knew that there would be a time

Of an early white spring in all its prime;

When sunbeams fell on empty fields

And silence cloaked the distant hills.

Where, in a shady woodland, spiked with green

A carpet of bluebells would bloom unseen.

Where time, so often snatched away

Would slow to the rhythm of a different day?

I watched the bold and fearless crow

Go black and shiny, to and fro,

Its rakish presence curiously noted

Although yesterday it flew unnoticed.

Toppling change sweeps ‘normal’ away;

Only necessary work now, and no outdoor play.

Selfless heroes put themselves on the line

Yet they have lives, like yours and mine.

So what happens to trinkets no longer desired,

And priceless pictures in galleries, once so admired?

Some things can stay behind closed doors

Until feet echo again on busy floors,

But empty arms have no-one to hold

And isolation takes its toll.

Now windows bright with rainbows are the new big thing;

They gladden our hearts with the hope that they bring,

And lockdown reveals to worried eyes

The blessed arch of infinite skies.

© Lyn Halvorsen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rattling the Pots – (time for some distraction)

I think it’s time to take our mind of all the desperately worrying and upsetting news, even if just for a moment or two. I am suspending my normal blog writing for the moment and posting some of my poetry instead.  I think we all have media fatigue – and whilst there is a need to be updated and follow guidelines, we need a break! Dare I say, even some of the copious postings about lockdown activities are getting a bit tedious!

Last evening when we stood outside our door clapping and rattling the saucepan lids it was wonderfully inspiring and showed human nature at its best; it was heartwarming and helps us all feel connected.

Just for while though, let me lead you through a golden meadow, full of flowers, and light (and some different pots!).

 

Rattling the Pots 

If I had a gypsy caravan 

I’d paint it blue and white,

And set it in a meadow

Full of flowers and light.

I’d stand where the old traveller stood

Within the patterned door,

Lay my hand upon the polished wood,

Rattle the pots once more.

I’d climb upon the cosy bed,

Lay on the covers of lace,

And imagine the sound of the creaking wheels

As they rolled from place to place.

And I would dream of a forgotten time

Where there would be paths still free to roam,

With undiscovered hills to climb,

And wherever I stopped was home.

(c) Lyn Halvorsen 

 

 

Let us look forward to the time when we can roam free again…..

 

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