Archive for December, 2021

Another year draws to a close and wasn’t it full of challenges? It seems we are all learning to live with uncertainty. It’s always been hard to predict the future, but this pandemic plus climate change seems to have taken it to a whole new level.

I’ve long since believed the future emerges from the present, flowing forward from the choices we make and the decisions we take today.

Seeds intrigue me. The fact that nobody can tell whether or not a particular seed is alive or dead astonishes me. The only way to know what that seed will grow into is to nourish it, to tend it, to care for it.

It seems that what we choose to give our attention to, is likely to increase. It seems that what we choose to nurture will thrive.

So what seeds are you going to nourish, to tend to, to care for in 2022? What will you encourage? What, therefore, is likely to grow and flourish in your life?

Read Full Post »

All shapes and sizes

It’s been raining quite a lot these last three days but when it stopped for a bit I took a wee walk in the garden. The first thing that caught my eye was the glitter of sparkling water droplets on fallen leaves.

I took a few photos. This is one of them.

What caught my attention about this one was the large droplet in the middle, surrounded by various other smaller ones.

Actually when I look at it again now it kind of looks like a mask with two eyes and a nose. Do you see that? I didn’t notice that until now.

We don’t really think much about the shape of water. As often as not it takes the shape of whatever contains it. And raindrops, I presume most of us think of as all the same shape, although they definitely fall in different sizes.

But just look at these droplets! One is huge. Way bigger than the rest. And that big one has a very irregular shape. The ones that look like eyes are almost oval but still irregular and the rest a range of circular or oval shapes of an astonishing variety of sizes.

Why should that be surprising?

Individuals are all unique. Never forget that.

Read Full Post »


When I retired back in 2014 I emigrated. I sold a top floor apartment (a “flat” we Scots say) on the edge of Stirling. We had a great view from the windows there, looking across to Ben Ledi and the neighbours. I loved that view and took multiple photos of that landscape in all kinds of weather and in all four seasons. But the truth is I was engaging with Nature from a distance.

When I moved to France I rented an old house with a garden on the edge of a village. I was surrounded by vineyards. That change brought me much closer to Nature as every day I saw and walked amongst the ever changing trees, bushes, flowers and vines. The rhythms and cycles of the year became an obvious present reality.

My intention was to stay there for a few months while I worked out if this living in France idea was a good one, but I ended up living there for 7 years. Not exactly a gap year. Not exactly a pause. More a full life filled with wonder, delight and learning. But I’ve moved now, bought a house in a small hamlet, and I’m ready to put down my roots.

This feels like a settling.

So when I look at this old photo of a park bench in autumn I think of the seasons of life, of how I’ve moved from my career years to my retirement ones…..not to “inactivity” but to a different phase of learning and creativity. I think of how much I’ve learned to notice the arrivals and departures of migratory birds, of the phases of growth, fruition and closing down in the plant world, as leaves are shed and the garden beds down for the winter.

I look at this photo and I hear music. At this moment, in my head, I hear “Old friends, sat on a park bench like bookends”, and I hear “Leaves are brown now, and the sky is a hazy shade of winter”.

Well, that takes me back. The first music I heard in stereo! I haven’t started to unpack all my cardboard boxes yet, but I know that “Bookends”, the “LP” (or maybe you call it “vinyl”) will be there, with the rest of the records I bought, mainly in my teens.

How many seasons, how many phases, how many life stages, have I lived since then?

It’s quiet here, in this old stone house in the French countryside. It’s a good time to be alive. But then isn’t today, isn’t the present, always the best time to be fully alive?

That’s one thing I’ve learned. To be awake, aware, conscious and fully present, in the here and now.

Read Full Post »

What do you see in this photo?

I see the sun, clouds and trees.

I love this photo simply for its beauty. The sun looks huge, the sky is so intensely red, and the silhouettes of the trees are like a puppet shadow play.

But when I look at it again now I see the fundamental essentials of Life. Without the energy from the sun there would be no life on Earth. With too much energy from the sun there would be no Life on Earth. Without water (here in the form of clouds) there would be no Life on Earth, without vegetation (here in the form of trees) there would be no animals, no insects, no humans here on Earth. Because we need the chlorophyll containing forms of life to capture energy from the sun, water and carbon dioxide from the air, and turn that into the basic sugars of the food chain.

This makes me feel intensely grateful. This fills me with awe. Every single one of these very non-human elements are essential for existence.

Isn’t that amazing? Isn’t that wonderful? Shouldn’t that determine our priorities when we construct the ways we live together on this small blue planet?

Read Full Post »

A Robin story

I moved house two weeks ago. I lived in the old place for seven years and got pretty familiar with some of the birds which shared the garden, the redstart, the robin, the owls and the hoopoes especially,

When we viewed the new house for the first time I heard, then saw, a redstart in the garden. I took that as a good sign.

The first day in my new home I walked into the living room and there was a robin flying around. I’ve never seen a robin inside a house before so it was a big surprise. Mind you the robin seemed pretty startled too. I talked to him softly, moved slowly, and opened the window to let him fly back outside.

A couple of days later I was back at the old place doing some final clearing and when I walked into the shed there was a robin flying around inside. I’d never seen that in the seven years I’d been there. I stood aside and let him fly back out through the open door.

Two experiences of a robin in an inside place. The first one made a big impression on me but the second one seemed to reinforce something. Made me take extra notice.

A couple of days later, back in the new home, I went into the wood store to get some logs for the fire. Guess what? Yep, there was a robin flying around inside the wood store. I stood aside and let him fly out through the open door.

How does the universe work?

How does the world get our attention?

Well, the unusual, the rare, the peculiar is one way. We definitely notice things that are “out of the ordinary”. They wake us up. Jolt us out of autopilot and say “pay attention” or simply “Look!”

Coincidence and synchronicity is another way. The patterns, echoes, resonances and separate experiences which appear strongly connected is another way.

So I looked up the symbolism of robins.

New beginnings. Hope.

That’ll do.

Thank you, universe. I’m grateful.

Read Full Post »

Have you ever noticed how smiles spread? Someone smiles to you and you feel like smiling too. A child smiles and your eyes light up.

Have you ever noticed how laughter spreads? Someone laughs, genuinely, whole heartedly, and you feel the laughter arising in your soul. A child laughs and you develop a fit of the giggles.

Have you ever noticed how love spreads? When you feel genuine love in your heart when you’re with another, they feel it too, their heart slips into the same deep harmonious rhythm as yours.

You think we could do with more loving in this world? I do. And here’s how we spread it – by speaking loving words, having loving thoughts, writing and acting with loving intention.

Worth a shot, don’t you think?

Read Full Post »

The beauty of the ocean

Sometimes it’s a small detail which catches my eye and I find beautiful. Other times it’s a particular bird, work of art or a person.

But when I go to the coast (the Atlantic coast is the nearest to me) it’s the breadth, the distance, the enormity of the ocean and the extent of the horizon which I find so beautiful.

To stand at the water’s edge, watching the waves roll in, listening to the sound of the crashing on the beach, is always magical.

I find the open sky meeting the open sea utterly beautiful. It opens my heart, dissolves my boundaries, expands my horizons.

Where do you experience the beauty of the ocean?

Read Full Post »

The beauty of art and skill

The Rodin museum in Paris is one of my most favourite museums in the world. It’s a small museum compared to the more famous ones and it is set in beautiful gardens.

Rodin was surely a genius. How he sculpted these beautiful forms out of marble is beyond me.

This particular photo is a close up of his “The Kiss” – perhaps his most famous piece, but its familiarity doesn’t blind us to its beauty.

Here it’s the subject matter, the skill and the artistry combined which contribute to this as my example, today, of beauty.

Read Full Post »

The beauty of water

One June, a few years ago, I was in the kitchen when I heard a tremendous noise outside. I opened the door and saw a hailstorm. The pieces of ice were slicing through the leaves on the mulberry tree, bouncing high when they hit the ground and performing a convincing Ginger Baker solo on the metal garden furniture!

It didn’t last long, just a few minutes, then I stepped out into the garden and started to explore what I could see sparkling in the grass.

This photo is one of many I took that day. What astonishes me is just how every single hailstone looked so different. I suppose it’s the same with snowflakes. Their complexity is also so diverse that every one of them looks different under a microscope.

Isn’t water amazing?

Isn’t it beautiful?

Read Full Post »

One day I was walking along the beach and I noticed this strand of seaweed and a small shell, I think it must’ve been because I saw them from this angle but in that moment I saw a face.

I framed my shot and took this photo.

I think it’s beautiful. It suggests a calm, serene face to me, a long curving eyelash and a small gem in the side of the nose. I know this is very little from which to construct a whole image but it works for me every time.

I see the beauty of a sea goddess.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »