A northern light

winter field

There is so much light here. I think the brown, gold, green fields have drunk the light from the sky and hold it like water. On the greyest day they seem luminous to me.

A yoga class has started in Heckington – an excellent thing for the start of a new year. It is a long time since I went to one and beginning again after a gap takes me back to other classes in other places. The very first, in my twenties, was in a huge hall in Brixton, full of people, none of whom spoke at all. I never went back.

The relaxation at the end is supposed to be the nicest part, but only in my fifties am I beginning to enjoy it. Still I sometimes find myself tetchily wondering why the teacher is visualising for us a sun-kissed beach, somewhere far away I can’t imagine.

I liked the beach in today’s class, with dunes, wild flowers and a sunset. I imagined myself not on warm sand but on a beach like those I visited last winter at Saltfleetby or Skegness.

Years ago those yoga relaxations always brought tears, as I let go of the tension holding me together. Today I felt the lightness at my core rather than grief; today I was dancing by a northern sea under a light, bright, endless sky.

Pink soup & apples

Ruby chard soup

I’ve made a frugal soup today, with swede and ruby chard from the garden and goose stock from our New Year’s Eve roast goose. So the only bought ingredients (apart from the rather expensive goose, of course) were a bit of local apple juice and some pearled spelt which comes all the way from Somerset.

The new leaves on the over-wintered chard are a very dark purple with bright pink stems. The cooked leaves are green and have leaked their colour into the soup, turning it a vibrant pinky-red.

Still I feel pleased and satisfied, as I always do when I’ve been able to put a meal on the table mainly with things from the garden or leftover from another meal.

After our soup we will have apple and ginger cake, made for a meeting we went to today of a local smallholders’ club. The apples come from a tree in my mother’s garden, are very tasty and have lasted extraordinarily well since they were picked in the autumn, without us storing them particularly carefully.

My mum can’t remember the variety. Bit of a pity that. If she could then I could grow it! I have been poring over apple varieties on the web this past week, since time is running out for getting them to plant by March.

I am having happy dreams of the time when we have enough apples to make juice and dried apples as well as chutney, jelly, bottled apple compote and so on.

Here are the lovely apples with no name.

image

Travelling Light

Morning train

These are last week’s pictures of my train journey to Doncaster: the train at Heckington in grey morning light and then the view of fields and the sun coming up, seen from the train window.

I had been feeling a bit lost and disconnected for a few days, worried about work and money, uncertain about the future: perhaps suffering from a sense of anti-climax after passing the first anniversary of moving here.

But my spirits rose waiting at the station in the half light. Then, travelling while the sun came up, noticing sunrise being a little earlier, I felt excited and full of hope, my steps lighter. Nothing had changed except the sun had risen, just as it does every morning, every dawn. But perhaps every new dawn has a bit of magic in it.

Sunrise on the tracks

Losing the thread

Teasels

Two weeks have drifted by since my post written in the very first hours of 2014, when our New Year guests had gone to bed and I was contemplating the peculiar beauty of a post-dinner-party table. The crumpled napkins, stray unused cutlery, empty glasses gleaming in the last light from sputtering candles, all seemed to hold a faint essence of the people who had been eating and talking there, like ghost or dream-guests come out to play round the festive table while their corporeal selves were peacefully asleep.

This point in the year is always a hiatus, a gap in the normal order of things. Visitors come and go: extended family, friends from other countries, small grandchildren. The house is full of food, the garden is cold and wet. Without our dogs we have been outside even less than usual at this time of year.

And it is outside that makes me write and think, outside where the fields are abstract paintings; where greens and browns are soaked in light and the black of winter hedgerows is deep enough to drown in; where the ploughed earth is rich, scented, edible and my connection to it visceral.

So no outdoors means no blog posts, or not so many at least.

Yesterday I went to Doncaster and took pictures of sunrise and railway tracks on the way, pictures intended for here but I’ve written a different kind of post.

Today’s picture is from a walk of two or three weeks ago and very like lots of photos I took early last year. Passing my blog anniversary and the festive break has left me musing about what this year’s blogging will bring. Will my pictures all be like ones from the same time last year?

I didn’t expect photographs to become such a big part of the blog when I began it in Manchester; but I have loved taking them and looking at them. The landscape always looks like a picture to me now. I wish I could paint it as well as photograph it.

In any case, time to get out more – if only, today, as far as the end of the garden to fetch swede and leeks for supper.

Hello 2014!

New Year's Eve table

Second New Year’s Eve in our ‘new’ home. Last year we were just four for dinner and tonight we were eight; so brilliant to have friends and family from Manchester and other bits of our old life here in the new one – makes me feel whole, connected, all of that.

Tonight we ate: tapenade and a bean and garlic thing on toasts, celeriac and chestnut soup (very good recipe from River Cafe), roast goose with apples or spinach and nut roast and red cabbage, green salad and cheese, cheesecake with plum and apple compote.

Another year coming and I feel full of hope.

Happy new year to all my friends and readers out there. May 2014 be good to you.