Thursday 14 January 2010

The Importance Of Finding Beauty In Light

Great Tit

What a handsome fellow is this Great Tit, spoiled for choice at one of my Hubbie's many feeding stations around the garden. And what better way to wish you all A Happy and Healthy New Year, than by introducing you to some of the garden birds which have visited us here in the past few weeks at Barleycorn. Though we see the Titmice on most days, a rarer treat was in store for us.

Female Sparrowhawk

A beautiful, majestic female Sparrowhawk was our herald of the Winter, for she arrived exactly two days before the onset of what has been the most glorious, luminescent time of my life, thanks to the magical presence of snow-filled days and nights.

Through The Freezing Fog

For, here in Scotland, the months of December and January are normally dark, dreich and often drizzly, with only the prospect of the much longed-for Christmas celebrations and family get-togethers to lighten the otherwise drab days of Winter.

Snow On The Branches

But, not this year. According to the Met Office we are in the midst of the heaviest snowfall for 50 years and I am so glad to be alive and enjoying the light, because, for me, light has a spiritual dimension.

Panorama Across The Field

Everything seems more colourful and happy when the days are lighter and brighter. The light itself seems to bring enlightenment of the mind and spirit. Light is knowledge. It keeps the gloom and dark thoughts at bay.

Snowfall Silhouettes

I love waking to the silence on the morning after the first fall of snow. It recreates a feeling of magic in the air that I remember as a child when snow brought days full of laughter from the excitement of building a snowman with my brother and sledging with my friends, not to mention our ravenous appetites when, eventually, we went indoors for supper.

The Magical Glow Of Twilight

One is never too old to remember that excitement, nor too old to build a snowman, I hope, for these pleasures are all too transient and should be grasped at every opportunity before our dance is done, or our song sung. Being child-like, as opposed to childish, is what keeps us young at heart.

A Friendly Pheasant On top Of A Trellis

I believe we must keep our bodies like a fine-tuned violin for then the music of God will come out from every fibre of our being. And what better way to do it, in the midst of the heaviest fall of snow in a lifetime, than by building a snowman?

Taz, The Barn Cat, Walking Across The Frozen Pond

I feel duty-bound to be happy in times of so-called adversity, though I would disagree that being surrounded by heavy snow is one such time. It would be all too easy to resort to pessimism in the dark of Winter. But, in these bright days, we have an opportunity to make our light shine for our neighbours and our fellow man.

Male Blackbird With Fermenting Pears

One of life's greatest pleasures is the feeling of being needed, for someone's need gives purpose and meaning to our lives even in our retirement when our professional days are gone. The heavy snow has given my Hubbie and I opportunities to take provisions to house-bound members of our family and friends, to help clear paths to ensure a safe foothold and to show our love for a hungry family by providing them with dinner on New Year's Day.

Coal Tit On The Cotoneaster Hedge

Here at Barleycorn, we spent happy days during the Festive Season, sharing our hearts and our home with our nearest and dearest, savouring every precious moment, every meal around the family-table, the sound of their laughter, the radiant smiles, before the tender goodbyes.

Robin Redbreast On A Conifer

I believe it's important to show our love to our fellow man, as well as to one's own family, as we are only mature to the extent that we can love. If we don't reach out to others we grow ever inward and become shallow instead of rounded citizens sharing in a community.

Female Chaffinch And Coal Tit On A Window Sill

Those of you who follow the Barleycorn journal will be well aware of my feelings about how we should all be the stewards of the earth and that we should encourage wildlife in our gardens, whether they consist of a humble window-box, a grand stately pile or somewhere in between.

Male Chaffinch

Our feathered friends have more than brightened the snowy days of Winter. They have brought endless pleasure and brilliant colour to an otherwise monochromatic landscape. It has been such fun spending time observing their individual shapes, colours and habits whilst watching them fly in to feast upon my Hubbie's overflowing treats dotted around the garden.


Each is welcome to our garden, whether it be the rare sightings of the Sparrowhawk or the everyday visits of the humble Sparrow. Each beak is different for each has a different purpose. Some beaks, such as those of the finches, are purpose-built for prizing open seeds, while others, such as those of the Sparrowhawk, are made for tearing flesh.

Dunnock On The Kitchen Window Sill

The Dunnock, or Hedge Sparrow, above, is a ground-feeding bird, often overlooked because he is an inconspicuous brown with a grey head and breast. But, I love his unexpected warbling in the middle of the night, with his loud piping note making me aware of his presence, and his habit of threading his way through the shrubbery or under the table looking for insects or crumbs.

A Ring-Collared Dove At The Bird Table

Since my last post, I have been looking out from the various windows of the house, camera in hand, taking photos and little video snippets of the visiting wildlife at Barleycorn and the magical effect of the changing light on our landscape. You can watch the results in the three videos at the end of the post.

Blue Tit On The Cotoneaster Hedge Under My Studio Window

Today, for example, the sky overhead is like a Tupperware bowl, with almost no delineation of a horizon in the distance, for the snow-covered field and the sky seem to have merged into one. Though I have been looking across the same landscape, each day has been different due to the effect of the light on the snow and close observation has made each new day exciting and full of wonder.

Whooper Swan

We have a beautiful walk which takes us down a country lane and over fields to a well-known local river. While our family were here, and on several days since, my Hubbie and I have gone on this walk. Not only have we have been overwhelmed by the intrinsic beauty of the landscape covered in snow, and the river - frozen in places - but also by the sight of Cormorants fishing, Greylag Geese swimming upstream and majestic Whooper Swans all the way from Siberia, flying overhead. This really is a paradise, which I am enjoying sharing with you all.

With love in our hearts and joy in our souls we will lead others to find beauty in The Light.

In the video of The Pheasant And Taz the music I used for accompaniment is taken from my CD of Simon Boswell's I know A Place Where The Wild Thyme Blows from the soundtrack of A Midsummer Night's Dream. The Pheasant appeared during one heavy fall of snow and made himself at home in the garden on several days. Even though he was much bigger than Taz, the latter had great fun chasing after him, even sliding across the pond behind him on one occasion and lying in wait, ready to pounce. The Pheasant merely gave a loud cock-cock-cock and flew over the wall into the field to join his harem of four females.

The music which accompanies the video Beautiful Barleycorn In The Snow is Air 'On The G String' a track from my CD of Classic FM Relax Disc 2. It's amazing how unfamiliar our garden looks, even to us, under the mantle of a blanket of snow and how each successive snowfall enhanced the Barn and the garden and gave them both an added charm and romance.

The music accompaniment for the video Birds At Barleycorn In The Snow is Spiegel Im Spiegel, a track from my CD Classic FM Relax And Escape. The slow deliberation of each note played on the piano seemed to suit the gentle falling of the snowflakes.