Stilled

It seems we are in the still of the storms. For three days there is rain, lots of rain. It is steadfast and soft. I still walk in it, past the greyed river and lush green gabion slopes. It gets me wet but not unpleasantly so. Elsewhere, rivers flood and snow falls, but here there is just the soft rain that fades away as quietly as it has come.

We walk out to the glitter of frost and the chatter of starlings on chimney pots. The sun is strong in a gentle sky. The land has been stilled in ice. Large puddles are opaque expanses of glass. Gutters have turned white. The pavement is crossed by frozen trails from the run-off of drainpipes. In the places that the sun hasn’t yet warmed, the ground is dusted white.

It’s Saturday and the streets are full of people. Older couples pass us on their way to and from the local vaccination centre. Young people congregate at the skate park. A queue of cars heads for the town centre. We move into the peace of the dene, where leaves look sugar-coated and the grass sparkles. Raspberry leaves are cross-hatched with ice crystals. Frozen puddles surround the roots of trees. Two tiny violets are vivid among the ivy.

Despite a chittering of tits in the trees. it seems like a birdless landscape. There are people: at least five family groups and a few lone dog walkers. It might be an ordinary day – not a day in lockdown. The pond is frozen. Children throw chunks of ice from the edge onto the middle, making loud clunks. It’s no wonder the ducks are hiding somewhere in the reeds. A huge cruise ship is moored at the marina, blocking the horizon. A man is training a new puppy on the grass.

The world of people rarely slows, even, it seems, when we have been told it should. I have come out today to rid myself of a week I’ve found particularly hard. To spend a few still moments with the earth, without having to think about that thing that consumes us all. There is the trickle of water in the burn. Daffodil shoots pushing through the frozen ground. A moorhen’s call and a pair of gliding crows. On our return home, we can hear the slow drip of frost melting, and some of the puddles have already thawed. The starlings are still chattering on the chimneys. Somewhere else the world is busy, but here the stillness lingers.

112 thoughts on “Stilled

  1. May the stillness continue to linger at your place, no matter the weather Andrea. I’m always amazed how the British (at least I think it’s generic) have a far vaster geographical vocab than what we use over here. In recent days I’ve had to look up the meaning of dene, copse, and burn!

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  2. Since I’ve had a dog, I have gotten to enjoy again the stillness. And then Covid hit. And then in the nice weather, it seemed everyone was trying to get out to enjoy a stillness that was other than the one that filled their home. Now, in winter, I can hear the woodpeckers again :-). Because it’s so quiet. I must say, I enjoy that sound.

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  3. I love frosted landscapes. For the brief time it adheres to…everything…it sharpens our focus and helps us see more clearly all the beautiful details of the natural world, like the plants in your gorgeous photos. And if the sun appears? Everything sparkles with tiny diamonds of light. I hope your walk through the frost helped add some sparkle to your outlook after a difficult week.

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  4. Good Morning, Andrea; I hope you are well.
    Rain, we’re certainly getting more than our fair share, that’s for sure. As essential as rain is, too much can become testing to live with. Snow can also be a nuisance, but it also adds a beautiful charm to our surroundings. We had snow here up until a few days ago, it’s gone now. As challenging as it makes life for the birds and animals, and I shouldn’t laugh, but watching the Stoat bound through the fresh fall was quite comical.
    Thank you for your wonderful post, Andrea. I hope that you have a better week of it next week.
    Keep yourself wrapped up and warm; stay safe.

    Mick.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Mick. I visited you the other day and left a comment but I’m not sure it worked? I enjoyed watching the birds and the wildlife through your window with you – it felt as though I was there. And it looked like you had a lovely snowfall from the photos! I’ve seen a stoat once – or maybe it was a weasel (!) not quite close enough to tell but I can imagine it bounding through all that snow…

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Mick, let me know if you get a comment from me on your latest post about the roof. I’m not sure it’s come through. If it hasn’t it’s obviously a problem with me, as I see Carol had commented. If it isn’t there would you check your spam just in case I’ve ended up in there?!

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      • Hello, Andrea, I hope you and Winston are well.
        I am receiving you loud and clear. That sounds like something from the Forest Rangers I used to watch as a kid. The call sign was XMY556 A for Apple. Strange what stays in our minds.
        I’m always alert to new sights and sounds around me. The other day I heard a duck call that stopped me in my tracks. It was a Drake Gadwall. There’s a good chance of seeing one when you’re out and about.
        Keep wrapped up and warm, and enjoy your walks.
        Mick.

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      • Phew, glad to hear that! There’s actually been a lone drake gadwall on the pond in the dene for quite a few years now – I don’t know that there’s ever been a female, although I might not have been able to tell it from the mallards…I don’t remember hearing it call though.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. That stillness out in the open where one can become one with the environmental rhythm of soft sounds, hear the silence, and commune with nature can be so healing for a troubled mind – or for one that has been holed up indoors for far too long is very important to explore! The scenes you depict are refreshing for me.

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  6. Andrea, what a wonderful walk you took us on this morning.
    Your writing makes me feel as if I am there, heard all these little sound,
    saw the people that you met, heard the birds.
    The photos are wonderful and really adds so much to your quiet telling
    of the walk.

    Miriam

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  7. I hope Mother Earth restored your equilibrium:). It always works for me.
    Yes, we have rain, rain and more rain – and I have to say that I love lying in bed listening to it…especially has most of it seems to come at night.
    When I take my daily walk, I see daffodils, snowdrops, buds and can smell spring in the air.

    This too shall pass and before we know it the world will look very different. Janet X

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  8. You would be right at home here in Olympia, the Land of the Steady Rain. 🙂 As always, I love your descriptions. Your last line is particularly powerful. Well done, my friend!

    Have a brilliantly happy weekend!

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  9. As usual, you have made ‘an ordinary day’ so beautiful. The delicate frost patterns on the different leaves, the violet and daffodil shoots, a moorhen’s call and the two gliding crows. Then the ordinary is often beautiful if we’ve the eyes to see. I hope the busy people you describe will be able to enjoy ’still moments with the earth’ as much as you do.

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  10. I’m sorry it was a hard week, Andrea. Those weeks are not fun. But you have captured beautiful frost pictures, and lovely word pictures, and I can almost hear the thumps as children throw chunks of ice onto that pond. Many blessings to you and yours…

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  11. What a lovely, sunny break. I’m sorry your week was hard, but glad you were able to get out. It seems that we’re back into days of rain, completely overcast, and some wind today. Love your photos and especially the frosty leaves.

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  12. Such beautiful descriptions of all those scenes around you. You have a gift for making us aware of the beauty in ordinary places. I hope you can come out of this difficult time for yourself and keep writing. I will try and appreciate the rain more as we are ‘stuck’ near those western Pennines but we are cosy inside.

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  13. Andrea, thank you for bringing the stillness of your walk to us all! The natural landscape described with finesse and poetry, your beautiful descriptive writing wondrous! Oh, it is strange how much seems the same in spite of it all – our walks a game of ‘dodge’, criss-crossing roads, stepping far into fields away from the paths. Yet, being out is so soothing and yes, ‘To spend a few still moments with the earth, without having to think about that thing that consumes us all.’ A wonderful post and incredible photos – such sheer and mystical elements all around us! Hope you have a better week ahead and keep heading out for those walks! xx

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  14. Even yours words seemed put together softly and stilled. So soothing too. You have a beautiful place to walk. I like that there were few signs of people even though you mentioned people. The photos reflected your words.

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  15. Stillness lingers…those beautiful words are a balm to the busy weekends here in my part of the world and yes, we need the stillness to slow down our racing thoughts and the relentless news…we have had no snow yet and your lovely post has brought the beauty of winter closer as our snow sits on top of the majestic mountains!

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  16. Andrea,
    The ‘Stillness’ is so appealing, like an ear that has the volume turned up as high as it will go to capture the feast of sound. And your prose so elegant and pictures to wisk us there to share in your vision.
    Ahh…sighs, thank you for a beautiful post.
    Nims

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  17. A walk with nature can be so calming. Here we are a long way from daffodils creeping up resolutely from the soil but winter has its own special beauty. After a recent snowfall I looked out and saw each branch dressed up in their wedding whites and was simply awed by the beauty as the sun shone through and made the icicles sparkle. I love the spring but this and your lyrical writing will sustain until it comes.

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  18. I need to learn to be STILL more, Andrea, and yet as you say, people move, even when “locked down.” My thoughts are rarely still, and thus I practice meditation to try and help me quiet that monkey mind. We have loads of snow now (last storm gave us 20 inches) so it will be a long long time before I can see a daffodil try and push up out of the ground. We are hoping to be vaccinated soon – are you doing so soon? I must admit, winter is making me be still, but I hunger for the time I can move around again in sunshine and light….and with people. OH, that photo of yours with the frosty ivy and violets – is that what it is? It speaks to me. Just beautiful.

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    • It’s good that you try to be still Pam, even if it doesn’t always work I’m sure the trying helps! Still a while for me to wait for my vaccination, but they hope it will be by early May. The ivy photo is the one with the little spiky flowers.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. So still, so quiet – beautiful prose to start my day. Your writing draws me in – I’m transcended to another place. Thank you for sharing your Dene.

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  20. Andrea! Greetings from the frozen Great Lakes region and across time… I finally rediscovered you after seeing a comment on Sarah Potter’s blog and now I’ve gathered all my old WP crew back. I retired the Fairy of Disenchantment to start a new blog, only to end up keeping them both, though I’m at Away from the Machine much more frequently. It’s wonderful to read your meditative and beautiful posts again, and to know that you’re managing as well as anyone can in these times. Peace~ Sunshine

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  21. Another peaceful observance of all that surrounds you, thanks so much, Andrea. You have a way of allowing us to be inside your head as you observe and ponder the world around you, and I very much appreciate it. My favorite passage for the images: “We move into the peace of the dene, where leaves look sugar-coated and the grass sparkles. Raspberry leaves are cross-hatched with ice crystals.” And my favorite sentence for the poetry: “Two tiny violets are vivid among the ivy.”

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  22. Andrea that kind of stillness can be so wonderful. Thanks for all the simple beauty you showed us in this post.
    My winters are intense, but brief. The temperatures are already spring-like, and a tall fat robin (different from English robins) graced the water bowl the other day. For the first time in my life I wish (my) winters would last longer.
    Be well, be happy. Hugs on the wing!

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  23. Oh, Andrea. I felt the peace of it, as if I was with you on that walk. I think you have many more frosts where you live. Frosty weather brings with it such a clean-cut feel to the air. My family laugh when I tell them that I only feel well when the wind is easterly or northerly. I tell them that westerly winds make me feel ill, as if I’m walking through soup, with my mind in a fog. Your lovely excursion, with all those frosty leaves, looks such wondrous medicine. As you say, to spend a few still moments with the earth, does indeed stop one thinking about the thing that consumes us.

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  24. Beautiful writing that resonates profoundly with me. I love your descriptions of “land stilled with ice” and the comfort of soft rain; and the anticipation of daffodil shoots pushing through. We’re children of nature, and nature works in cycles. Almost always simply stepping outside reminds us who we are, and that whatever has been preoccupying us will pass.

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  25. Thanks for a beautiful exploration of that stillness we need to balance ourselves, Andrea. Hope you’re doing well.
    I am seeing the tiniest signs of spring now. But at this time, there’s always another snowfall to come.

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