Flax

flax

Harvest over;
The scent of retting lingers,
Everywhere.

Some weeks ago, a fellow blogger, Mark (*1), challenged his readers to write a haiku about cotton.  Like me, Mark follows the seasons in his blog. At that particular time the cotton plant was beginning to open.  Of course where I live we don’t grow cotton and so having no experience of that process I wondered if there was something here, in these wetter, cooler lands that could be written about.

What came to mind was flax, the plant from which linen is made, and not so many years ago it played a massive part in the life of this island. Finding out something about it here was easy enough; the website for National Museums NI (*2) has lots of information but I wondered if anyone still grew and produced flax. Eventually I came across a farm in County Tyrone (*3) who’s ethos was to grow and produce flax using traditional methods in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. Making contact with the farm, I was able to arrange a visit for my wife and myself on a glorious late September morning. Accompanied by Helen and Charlie we tramped over their fields along with their dogs, and actually pulled some missed stems of flax. We also helped to pick some of the remaining hedgerow blackberries.

How privileged we were, hearing the farm’s story and their plans for a sustainable future. Perhaps next year we will return to see the fields filled with the “wee blue flower”.

Everywhere,
Carried on the autumn wind,
Golden memories.

Ashley

(Retting: the process of soaking the flax in water to help soften the stalks so that the flax fibres can be separated from the core and outer casing.  The smell is very distinctive).

(*1) https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/117283304/posts/4218663982

(*2) https://www.nmni.com/story/warp-and-weft-story

(*3) https://mallonireland.com/pages/linen

 

Autumn Equinox

Here in the northern hemisphere it is that time when both night and day are of equal length and from here on daylight reduces and the nights become longer.  It’s a time for preparing for the colder months but it is also an opportunity to plan for the months beyond the winter.

planting bulbs

Planting bulbs,

As the darkness grows –

Flowers for spring.

 

Ashley

On the seashore

With such high temperatures, the best place to be is beside the sea.

where the mountains of mourne sweep down to sea

There’s a line in a Percy French song that goes:

“Where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea.”

Newcastle, County Down, Northern Ireland.  Enjoy it here!  Or better still, why not visit this glorious part of the Northern Ireland coast.

shore 6

shore 5

shore 4

shore 3

shore 2

shore 1

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Have a great weekend,

Ashley

July

It’s almost the middle of July and the night skies are light until late.  However, if you want to look beyond our solar system, the James Webb Space Telescope has produced amazing pictures of deepest space.

Closer to home, on the 13th July here in the UK, we may see something amazing in the early evening!

enso a

Mid July;
For those who lift their eyes from the earth,
A supermoon.

Ashley

Original artwork and verse by Ashley

https://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/goddard/2022/nasa-s-webb-delivers-deepest-infrared-image-of-universe-yet

https://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/what-is-a-supermoon.html

Summer Solstice

summer

Here we are,
On the hill of summer;
The longest day.

This is a verse I published last year and it so I happened that I was in the same place yesterday where my verse came to me!  I hope you don’t mind me repeating it?  When I first wrote it, I’d been browsing through one of my favourite books, The Hill of Summer by J.A. Baker.  I just love the descriptive writing in that book.  Baker is probably better known for his extraordinary book, The Peregrine.

(The title of J.A. Baker’s book, The Hill of Summer, comes from a line in A.E. Housman’s poem A Shropshire Lad.)


			

A New Year

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For several years my writing has been aligned to the four seasons, and in following the seasons more closely, I believe that I have changed too!  Towards the end of December last year and through the Winter Solstice, I became aware of the need to return to a journey that began many years ago!

The Winter Solstice is a time when our inner wisdom moves out of the dark unconscious into the slowly increasing light.  We can name our dreams and allow them to expand as the new year brings light and warmth.

Not so long ago I read a biography of Tenzin Palmo and some of her words resonate with me now as I write:

The purpose of life is to realise our spiritual nature, to go away and practice, to reap the fruits of the path, otherwise you have nothing to give anyone else.

You can find out about her here:

I have been writing for a very long time, since my teenage years, but I also have a passion for the visual arts especially illustration, and as we approach Imbolc at the end of January, I am reminded that intuition, inspiration, and the healing powers of this celebration of the life-force need to be addressed.  Imbolc, Candlemas, Brigid’s Day, the earth awakening; these things are approaching. 

I also think of Anthony Gormley’s words:

In creating art, participating in it, doing it, we become our true selves.

https://www.antonygormley.com/

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Those words are important to me, right now, to become my true self, my whole self, and so I have decided to stop blogging and to concentrate on my art, my writing and my drawing.

For now, to all my followers, keep well and safe, and have a great New Year.

Ashley