The Fragile Forest

The silence is unprecedented for spring, a time of bird song and insect hymns. It's a silence I've never known in this forest in fact, this wild tangle of silver birch and willow, alders, shrubs and reeds. Even in deepest winter the place resounds with a living quiet, a mute but sensed presence. Instead there is the hollow echo of absence. I have been … Continue reading The Fragile Forest

The Way the Light Shifts

The way the light shifts is sudden, like wind slamming shut a door. All day clouds have been gathered seamlessly above, immobile and the colour of slate. Unexpectedly they let in the sky. A thin sunbeam parts the dark, then further streaks swell through, throwing coins of light onto the lakes. They float for a moment before sinking into the … Continue reading The Way the Light Shifts

The Karst Country

Some of you reading Notes from Near and Far may remember that Julia and I have been working in the hills high above the Prespa Lakes monitoring birds as part of an environmental assessment for a proposed wind farm. It is there that I had the good fortune to meet Stavros, an Albanian shepherd who plays the flute … Continue reading The Karst Country

A Time of Turning

While the days edge tentatively into new territory, the nights hold fast to winter's side. The resplendent black sky splashed with stars is clear, and startlingly cold. A seam of smoke from our chimney floats over the dark like a ship at sea. For a week or so I've heard the wheel of time shifting forward: ice … Continue reading A Time of Turning

Sticks and Stones

The trajectory of a tree's life is as unforeseeable as our own, determined as much by circumstance as intention. Like any living organism, it has its phases and difficult ages. It's subject to environmental shifts and storms, to changing patterns of land use and arbitrary rains. A tree might be shaped by strict winds, the intimate attentions of … Continue reading Sticks and Stones