Once Upon

Once Upon

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Words and Pollocks.

In golden-leafed promise the welcome murmur of autumn leads us wool-wrapped and willing towards winter's chilled embrace.

Beneath weighted sky with stiffened air all nature folds her collar-up; and in hinted-season and time-drawn apparel, makes ready for short and sharpened breath.

Afternoon-dimmed with leaf-softened tread,  the dampened woods draw close their quiet mantle. No stirring nor feathered chatter heard. The whispering air in silent branch brings gentle haze to blur the eye......the trees withdrawn, once more, stand ready.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Picture This.....Not.

"Don't waste words, jump to conclusions..."
That famously ambiguous, contentious and curious quote dubiously attributed to that longtime 'hero' of mine, Mr Millican Dalton.....
Those words can be seen roughly scratched into the rock wall of a cave that this pioneering gentleman of nature, freedom and adventure made his home for 50 odd (some would say very odd!) years in the English Lake District.
However....never judge a book by it's cover....etc etc...
A person's appearance,  manner and character can often be misleading......and you never know... underneath the grey suit, collar and tie there may be a free-thinking bohemian uni-cycling performance artist......or something......and anyway, that questionable jumper/hat/pair of trousers they are furnished in may not have actually been of their own choosing.
'They' say that looking at the books and/or music a person has on their shelves can often indicate a person's character....and intriguingly, what footwear they sport....I'm not so sure....I would hate to think that I ever be adjudged by what's on my shelves
....there is a hell of a lot of both noise and word there by accident, intrusion and by unwarranted gift......and my mode of foot furniture is, to say the least, somewhat haphazard according to activity....and more often than not, mildly inappropriate !
Anyway.......it got me thinking....
Over the years, I appear to have collected a fair number of pictures and paintings that happen to adorn the walls of my home. These pictures make an extremely eclectic (always feels good to use the word eclectic) mix of style, content, subject matter and yes.....subjectively rated artistic merit. In the same way that what sits on the bookshelf and inhabits the music collection of a person can be said to reflect the character of their owner, maybe the displayed choice of their wall adornments also gives insight into their 'inner persona'......perhaps even more directly. If so, I'm in trouble......call Social Services immediately.
A fair number of almost 'chocolate- boxy' landscapes ( I don't know why....I just like 'em) exist amongst a sprinkling of more worthy original nature paintings...Contemporary and classical  prints of various subjects jostle amongst drawings, photographic copies and home-mounted 'art' pieces of dubious and incongruous subjects from Kerouac to Dickens, from theatre props to guitar fretboard close-ups. From framed pages of Eagle comics to classical seascape water-colours. Postcards, drawings and personal ephemera of every kind from marbles to rocks, feathers and a rather fetching collection of hats....... and the rest.....

As I say.......it occurs to me also.....bearing in mind the above......Could the appearances of our furred and feathered friends in any way indicate/influence 'character'....or do they simply look like they do, and are what they are,  and do what they do, simply because of what they are... because of practical natural evolution.....
Because yer everage  bird of prey has the facial features that make it look cruel and fierce ......is it?
Because a fluffy bunny looks to us all cuddly and cute......is it?
Because a chicken by its general demeanour, looks less 'intelligent' than an owl......is it?
Does a well preened badger have more social status within badger society than a scruffy one?
Does a chaffinch actually know its sartorially 'lookin' good' when compared with a dunnock....
These are questions that need to be answered.....
I realize the matter of choice of appearance is not an aspect generally open to fauna, but does their appearance in any way influence their individual and/or collective character.....if indeed a species has such a thing.....*strokes chin whilst musing..
I think we can be forgiven for anthropomorphising a bit......what other way of assessing 'character' have we?
Are sparrows cheeky chappies?
Are weasels mean and nasty?......and so on....
Most animals I can think of seem to have been given a human characteristic according to their species, behaviour...... and perhaps....appearance?
Our domestic pets appear to develop 'characters' in our eyes, so do 'wild' creatures also develop individual characteristics........ and here is the rub.....are these characteristics determinable by their appearance?
Does a grumpy duck actually look grumpy?
Does a happy-go-lucky tortoise look any different from an introverted one?
Do animals and birds have individual characters and can you tell not just by their activity, but by their appearance?........and, reading back through this post............who the hell cares?
I need to get out more.
I was going to include an array of pictorial examples of my household 'art' collection....interspersed with examples of various animals and birds displaying imagined characteristics due to their appearance.......but frankly,  I can't now really be bothered.......maybe at a later date perhaps.......or!...the precious few who read this, could post illustration of their own ??!!....
I'm going for a walk. Autumn has well and truly arrived, and the local woods/river-bank and chilled misty air is calling for me to don those favourite items of warm 'winter' clothing and wander amongst it all......
Yet.........I do wonder what picture I may present to any highly-wicked Goretex-wrapped passer-by as I saunter along dressed in my beaten up old walking boots (with mismatched laces), co-ordinated duffle coat and battered fedora combo......?

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Minor curmudgeonly vent....

The writings of Robert Gibbings, John Muir, J.A. Baker, Roger Deakin, Marc Cocker, John Wyatt, Robert Macfarlane etc etc etc.....plus (believe me!)  many, many others of lesser reknown......but of equal merit, people who write of, comment upon and ruminate about the natural world and their individual connection with it.....these books line my shelves and lay scattered around the house in random welcome, each well-thumbed in familiarity, and which all in their own characteristic way, never fail to offer an affirmation of,  and an inspiration to, my own deep felt affinity with the natural environment and my long-felt, and some may say ( how very dare they) my somewhat philosophical,  'hippy-drippy' resonance with it...so there.

I browse with genuine pleasure through the blogs of this illustrious site, and have to admit, am often interested in the subjects raised and even entertained and moved by some of the posts.....(a nod in your direction 'Paying Ready Attention'... amongst a few others)....yet, reading so many of the entries, I sometimes get the feeling that there is a whole population of 'naturalists' out there who undoubtedly get real pleasure from their interests,  and like to share their particular avenues of activity with the rest of us, but somehow, I get the impression that maybe the woods are not being seen for the trees....
To actually know the Latin name for a spiders knee, and then to have photographed it....to have encyclopedic knowledge of every genus of mushroom, moss and molluscian mucus (!)...to have listed and recorded as a life-tick the lesser-throated spot warbler and to have measured the growth pattern of chickpea hybrid.....is all very enthralling, I'm sure....but maybe the core pleasure of simply being in a natural environment is being missed because of tightly focused interest. I can get as excited as the next man about catching sight of a particular bird or animal, and derive real pleasure from 'knowing' about the natural environment around me, but the greatest pleasure of all is gained by the un-thinking appreciation of nature in all its forms by the simple action of being amongst it. No need to identify, list or report. No need to investigate. No need to photograph, collect or study.
Nature's simple, timeless un-classified beauty and miriad aspects are, for me, best appreciated and acknowledged by the simple fact of experiencing it..walking within it....be it forest, mountain, river or beach.
With yer nose pressed up against the viewfinder, (as it were) maybe yer miss the view.
(What is it with naturalists and facial hair, eh?)