Glimpses

A story begins with a glimpse.  A glimpse into another world, a glimpse of a character, a glimpse of a narrative.  Sometimes that is all it remains: a half-caught moment that will never become anything more.  A scrawled fragment in a notebook destined never to become a tale.  The trace of a fiction that won’t be fulfilled.

On a gloomy day seeping drizzle my dog and I walk through the dene, challenging the dregs of February.  There is nobody else here.  The world is hushed and the silence pulses with promise.  I stand at the edge of the burn, captivated by the way the gold of the reeds lights up the gloom.  The day feels enchanted and as far as I’m concerned the enchantment is in just this: the reeds and the silence.  But as we walk the meander of the burn, I glimpse the flicker of a vibrant tail.  I gasp, because I’m sure I have seen my first kingfisher, the metallic teal feathers unmistakeable.  Only a glimpse and then the bird is gone, but I return the next day and am rewarded by a longer glimpse of the kingfisher’s back.  It flits off, under the bridge, and though I can see it perched on a branch in the distance, it disappears before I approach.

Glimpses are moments of possibility.  They are often the things that I see when my attention is elsewhere.  Caught by that softness in the vision, when I’m aware of my environment but I’m not trying to look.  Glimpses are suggestions.  They could lead to something, but you don’t yet know what.  My imagination is fired by glimpses: a white-haired woman in a tartan cape cycling through the square; a dawn-lit fox in the undergrowth; a couple taking refuge from the rain under a tree; a trio of roe deer in gossamer-clad fields; an abandoned slipper under a winking streetlight.  Moments that are nothing in themselves, but seem bigger than what they are.  I write them down and they may only ever be small slices of potential – or they may become something more.

It seems that I always want more.  More of the experience.  A closer look.  I want to see more than a glimpse of a kingfisher – I want to see her close up in all her colourful glory.  It’s in our nature to not want to let go.  But sometimes the glimpses are the blessings.  Ephemeral gifts.  Useless to try and hold on.  I’ll never catch that wisp of kingfisher; perhaps she’ll never reveal herself to me.  She was there, in that particular time and place, to let me feel a little of the spirit of the earth, and to remind me of its impermanence.  That’s the magic of the glimpse.  Sometimes I can fashion it into something tangible, sometimes I’m not meant to.  But I will always remember that glimpse of green, spiralling away like a radiant breath at the end of a dreary February.  They may be fleeting, but often the glimpses are the moments I remember the most.

95 thoughts on “Glimpses

  1. Andrea, how true! That little something that catches us out of the corner of our eye (or a stray sound glimpsed by our ears). I do believe these little moments of enchantment are gifts for us, so our sense of wonder and magic are never left to nap too deeply or drift too far. Beautifully said. And that slipper under the streetlamp …

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  2. Its fascinating what moves from a glimpse into something larger. You never can tell. I’ve had a story idea rattling around in my head for almost 2 years. I caught a glimpse of it and now I can’t let go. I”m afraid to start writing it in case it doesn’t turn into anything more than the fragment that lives in my head. What the heck is that about, eh? Love your ruminating posts, Andrea. Always get the juices flowing.

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    • Thanks Susanne – sometimes they have to percolate for a long time before they become something, that’s part of the fun! The slipper under the streetlight has haunted me for a long time, I haven’t made anything out of it yet, but I’m sure I will!

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  3. Beautiful. I find myself getting frustrated with glimpses, wishing to have a longer, fuller gaze at whatever it is that’s eluding me. This happens often with foxes–I seem to only catch that glimpse of red fur and when I turn, it’s vanished among the brush or foliage.

    I like your take on glimpses, Andrea. To see them as blessings. I need to remember that.

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  4. What a perfect metaphor; I’ve only seen glimpses of them too, but their call is fantastically jarring. In that, too, they are apt analogues for our urgent observations. So insistent, yet they may leave only a trace, a suggestion, an interrupted narrative. I’ve come to embrace these too. 🙂

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  5. Well said, Andrea. Glimpses and moments are the triggers that lead us towards discoveries previously unimaginable.

    I really enjoy your prose. Powerful without the purple (a skill I need to work on)

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  6. Andrea:
    Just a quick appreciation.
    Yes a glimpse is enough. A moment either way and me and my dog would have missed sighting a young black bear strolling along the edge of a forest on a foggy day. It was only a sense that it arrived into our vision and it disappeared just a moment later into the tall grass.
    The mist and the quiet suspended the temporal moment. The bear seemed a gifted apparition.
    Steve

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  7. sometimes a glimpse is enough and your glimpses reveal the poets soul. “Glimpses are moments of possibility. They are often the things that I see when my attention is elsewhere. Caught by that softness in the vision, when I’m aware of my environment but I’m not trying to look. Glimpses are suggestions. They could lead to something, but you don’t yet know what.” Thank you. I’ve reached an impasse in my blogging and lately there seems to be a lot strife but there are still moments worth seizing.Let’s see what happens!

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    • I had a difficult February Cybele and that encounter with the kingfisher and the glimpse it gave me into letting go was just what I needed, I hope that something will sneak up on you in the corner of your vision.

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  8. How beautiful. Your ability to craft descriptions and find words for feelings amazes me! I like the idea that the glimpse is enough. So often, when I get that glimpse, I wish I had a camera at hand. But then I realize that I remember the moment better because I *don’t* have a photo of it.

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    • Thanks Kerry – yes, I would have loved to have a photo of that kingfisher to publish alongside the post, but it would perhaps have been a less magical experience at the time if I hadn’t just experienced it without recording it.

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  9. … and such an important insight you offer us that it’s useless to try and hold on to these glimpses of gold, and yet, your words give us the images that does enable us to keep the “blessings” a little longer.

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  10. Andrea, I love your profound thoughts beneath glimpses of ordinary and extraordinary things around you. The beauty in this is that you say so little and let my imagination wander. You are a special gift, my friend. ❤

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  11. It’s funny how things we glimpse, often stick in the memory more than things we see fully. I don’t know why that is, but I’ve seen a kingfisher only once in my life, as a glimpse when my mother said, “Oh, look a kingfisher!” I always remember that moment — my mother dressed in mauve gingham and wearing a headscarf. She’s pointing and her voice is so excited. There’s the river with overhanging trees and tiny sunbeams percolating through their branches, and that flash of almost neon-blue caught in blink of an eye.
    I love this post, Andrea — all those glimpses of yours, and your drawing into focus or the whole phenomena of glimpsing. Thank you 🙂

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  12. “A scrawled fragment in a notebook destined never to become a tale” – this posting is such a wonderful rumination, Andrea. I’ve often thought since my teenage years that to pursue a glimpse will destroy its magic. I guess it’s sometimes true! What I mean is… we can pursue a glimpse fruitfully in our imagination, but often not in the real world. Wonderful (as I’ve already said!) Wonderful!

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  13. Always well written, Andrea. I love how you take the simple things in life and expand on them bringing them to life. Encourages me to take notice and appreciate those sweet moments around me that are always sending me messages. Thank you.

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  14. That’s true – those small moments can become the ones we treasure most and glimpses are all the more magical because of that. I hope you’ll get to see more of the kingfisher though.

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  15. A glimpse is a special thing, a teaser, a conjurer of ideas and stories and thoughts. A glimpse is never mundane and spying your first photo, I knew I was in for a treat.

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  16. This is lovely. I’m struck more and more that my past is a series of memories/glimpses. We can’t remember everything about our pasts so there are snapshots. I find it fascinating that when talking about episodes in my past that I share say with my sisters how differently sometimes we remember things – their glimpses are different to mine so to speak. There is also the slightly tricky area of writing and memory. If I use something from my past in my fictional writing – what remains most vivid for me? The actual source memory or the tinkered with, slightly altered fictional one. I heard someone being interviewed on the radio the other day who has perfect recall of everything that has happened to them in their lives. I think that would be fascinating but also terrifying. There’s a lot to be said for the glimpse and the ability to forget!

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  17. I’m savoring this post. Glimpses are how creativity is born and nourished. With one glimpse of something we MAY have seen or heard or smelled, our imagination takes off like a … kingfisher. 💙

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  18. Beautiful prose, Andrea! Glimpses are often all we are given to launch the imagination; mind’s eye a wonderful repository to draw upon for words. Beautiful photos and description of the reeds and your late winter walk. 🙂

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  19. As always you compare so well the creative experience to nature. Glimpses of natural beauty can give us the goosebumps, similar to the ones we get when a new idea plants its early seeds in our mind.
    Lovely post, Andrea. Hope all is well on your side of the pond.

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  20. Andrea, thank you so much for this beautiful post – ethereal and tender. You describe the wonder of these ‘Ephemeral gifts’ with lightness and beauty, connecting fleetingly to your writing (kudos to you for writing down these glimpses!) and to life overall. All theses glimpses make up the whole picture and yes they are a gift, but you also have to have the gift to recognise them, be aware of them all around – which you so clearly do! The photographs are lovely and their whispy dreamy nature matching your words perfectly. BTW I’m sure that kingfisher will one day become more of a glimpse – I saw one once clearly on a canal trip – pure magic!

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  21. I love the topic of glimpses, Andrea. Your post is very thought-provoking, the beauty and magic of a glimpse. Your glimpse of the kingfisher was enough to identify the species. Often times, when I’m birding especially in a foreign land where I will not return to, a glimpse is all we get. And sometimes, as you pointed out, that’s enough. Lovely post, and so beautiful written.

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  22. Ahh Andrea, how beautifully you write of your kingfisher…that first glimpse of neon blue and orange before it flashed away. I was there with you, hushed with only the gentle rustle of the reeds – I adore reeds, your photos stunning, so evocative of my Norfolk Broads holidays as a child – and a stifled gasp at the sighting. I felt just as you, only having seen a glimpse of such a beauty twice and then, on my birthday of all days some years ago from a boat in Bath, there, in full glory, sat a Kingfisher on a branch long enough for me to photograph it. I will never forget it and I have not seen one since. The glimpses were but a tease…magical and promising, keeping alive the hope of a full sighting years away. Just as your kingfisher awaits to reveal itself to you, on that special 🙂

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  23. You are so right. It’s the glimpses that are so meaningful because they are so ephemeral. I’ve been thinking about what to write next and I have this story that is based on glimpses that I’ve been dying to get back to.

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  24. Andrea what a special glimpse of nature teasing you. I had a similar experience on my bush walk with the kids the other day. My son does not cherish our walks but would rather stay indoors attached to his computer. But we have made saturdays our family adventure day. And so we were walking back from our walk and I noticed out of the corner of my eye a shadow cross the road in front of my son. he asked me what did I think it was? It was a lyre bird, they are very shy and like you I missed it. I watched and hoped to see it further up the hill. Nothing so I had to be satisfied in knowing he was there. Glimpses of beauty like this are rare but cherished by me. Not so much by my son. Maybe one day.

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