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.


Cheryl said...

Dear Wildlife Gardener.....I do so agree there is much beauty to be found in light. Your garden is a paradise for birds and your love of mankind is a credit to you.

From a purely personal point of view I am not enjoying the snow. I have had many starving creatures coming to the makes me realise how cruel the weather can be.
Our country lanes have not been cleared, snow has fallen on ice, and to get my parents to the hospital for various appointments has been extremely difficult.
I have cleared their front path and my mother in laws also. Shopping has been delivered, they are well cared for..... life goes on.
Whilst I can appreciate the beauty that is out there, I pray this weather soon passes and that life will soon be back to normal and wildlife will stand a chance......

Tku for a beautiful post and for showing all that is in your heart....

A wildlife gardener said...

* Happy New Year, dear Cheryl :)

Getting around in the snow is not without difficulty, though, thanks to the road gritters we have managed well this time.

We did see one dead sheep on our walk, due, no doubt, to the freezing temps. I'm sure the farmers are having a hard time feeding their animals in this weather.

But, I can see the snow receding, hopefully, we'll be back to warmer weather shortly.

Chin up, dear Friend...we are heading towards Spring and our amazing bulbs will appear once more to brighten our days :)

Jeanne said...

So very lovely and beautiful.
I love you

You are such a lovely friend.
Thanks for all you share.
Love Jeanne♥

A wildlife gardener said...

* Happy New Year, dear Jeanne :)

Thanks for all your visits...come again :)

Nicole said...

You have some beautiful snowy landscapes,I esp like the snowy branches and the magical twilight.. How lovely that you provide food for all those birds-they must be so happy and in return provide you with their charming presence.

A wildlife gardener said...

* Happy New Year, Nicole :)

They have certainly entertained us with their hilarious antics at the bird feeders during all this snowy weather :)

Wanda said...

You do truly live in paradise!

Thanks for stopping by my blog, and thanks for the beauty you bring to all of us with your eye and camera....


Duxbury Ramblers said...

How right you are WG, the blanket of snow changes the appearance of everything, as I have said before I love all the seasons as each has it's own beauty, have you ever noticed the silence when it's snowing or just after, I find my self straining for the slightest sound.
Thank you for sharing your wonderful garden.


Hello Wildlife Gardner. You have given us yet another treasure of a post. Thank you for sharing your paradise with us. I love all your birds. The pheasant was magnificent. Did Taz finally leap after him? Or just enjoy the pursuit? It was lovely watching subsequent days of snowfall and how they changed the scene.

As you know, I love the snow as well. I'm glad you're faring so well. I know it's been very hard for many over there.

Thank you again for your post and thank you for visiting my blog too.

SandyCarlson said...

That is one incredible post. Thanks for bringing us up close to all this wildlife. I learned a lot and I shivered in the snow. Great stuff.

sandy said...

Such a beautiful post, both the photos and your words! I really enjoyed it. I watched each video for a little bit and got the "flavor" and could feel what you love about your Barleycorn place.

Have a wonderful winter!

Sheila said...

This is lovely WG, and since we have had very little snow yet this winter, it is lovely to look at. The quality of light is exceptional, and the variety of birds amazes me.
I especially loved the first video, the music toward the end was really in sync with Taz pursuing the pheasant.
Well done, as always, and thank you for sharing this with us.

linda may said...

You have a beautiful soul. Thank you for sharing your barley corn beauty with me.I especially love the photos interspersed with your life wisdom.
I always leave refreshed from a visit to your blog.

Miranda Bell said...

Some really beautiful pictures - and as you say amazing similarities to what is going on here in Brittany - across the miles! Very jealous of your little Coal Tits - we don't get these here - so cute with their little white stripes down their backs! Also very amused to see in your previous post(just noticed!) that you even have the same garden bench as us- I had this previously in my garden in Bristol, UK! Have a good weekend Mx

Chrissie said...

I really enjoyed this beautiful post :-)

Naturegirl said...

Truly a post which warmed my heart!
Each photo was wonderful to view!
This post brings" enlightenment of the mind and spirit!"
I thank you for giving me the nudeg to stop by! Doing better each day! love and light aNNa xo

joey said...

I always feel as though I've been on a mini-vacation when I visit Barleycorn. The Magical Glow Of Twilight took my breath away. Until we meet again, let us all carry your lovely thought of 'The Importance of Finding Beauty in Light'! *hugs*

farmingfriends said...

Happy New Year Wildlife Gardener.
What beautiful scenic photos and then close ups of the birds are amazing. It is a true delight to visit your website.
Kind regards
Sara from farmingfriends

Green thumb said...

That is one remarkable quality dear W.G to be able to see goodness and beauty in different phases of life and season. The photos are remarkable and your spirit has made the narrative a joyous experience to read.

A wildlife gardener said...

A warm welcome to Everyone on this glorious sunshine Sunday in January 2010...and a Happy New Year, One and All, from our little corner of paradise :)

* Wonderful to have your company, dear Wanda...and so glad you enjoyed sharing the antics of the wildlife :)

* Dear Duxbury Ramblers...we think alike...loving the intrinsic beauty of each season...and enjoying the silence of the snowfall :)

* Dear Coneflower, it's lovel;y to have your company...Taz didn't have a chance of catching the pheasant as he can fly and, therefore, escape to the freedom of the field :)

* Dear Sandy C, although the snow makes us all shiver, it was so beautiful for the few weeks we experienced it...I'm so glad you enjoyed the wildlife up close and personal :)

* Thank you for stopping by, dear Sandy, and for taking time to watching the videos :)

* Great to see you, dear Sheila, and thanks for showing your appreciation the music I chose for the Pheasant and Taz video :)

* It's so nice to have you with me in the garden, sharing in the wildlife, dear Linda May..and thanks for your gracious comments :)

* Lovely to see you again, dear Marie... and thank you for giving me encouragement :)

* Dear Miranda, as you say we have lots of similarities in weather and wildlife...and lots in common well as similar good taste in garden furniture :)

* I really appreciate you taking time to stop by and look at my videos, Chris...cheers :)

* Dear Anna, I am so glad to hear you are feeling better each are in my thoughts and prayers. I really hoped you'd stop by and feel refreshed, as I was thinking of you when I was writing it up :)

* Dear Joey, every time you come for a visit, you always leave me with encouraging words...thank you so much :)

* Dear Sara, I am so happy you enjoyed the post...thank you kndly...and please drop by again :)

* Dear Green Thumb, you say the loveliest things to me...I am humbled by your comments...and blushing now...thank you :)

Barbara said...

With a lot of delight I looked at your beautiful, beautiful winter pictures (I am fascinated by the panorama view across the field). Lucky you, you have so many different guests at your feeders and in your garden. I also feed "my" birds, in order to keep them in my garden in summer too ;-) !! Actually here is everything in a deep winter sleep (including me from time to time ;-). !) .
Have a cosy Sunday evening!

candycane said...

i am always soooo envious whenever i visit your blog. i live in so. cal in an apartment. i used to rent the bottom of a house in the hollywood hills and i fed all the critters. now i have only 2 windowsills. on one i have 2 hummingbird feeders which is amazing - there are about 10 that come every day. i'm worried they will get too fat to fly as they drink a full feeder a day - lol! the other windowsill is for the rest of the birds - i have a few doves and some finches.
i really enjoy looking at your photographs. thanks!!

Kathleen said...

You have an awesome attitude toward winter Wildlife Gardener! I need to come read this post every day and maybe it will sink into my thought process too. I fear I don't appreciate it near as much. Your heart is so big and generous ~ I can definitely appreciate that. I'm sure your friends, family and wildlife are so grateful to have your help too. It seems like it's been a cold winter everywhere this year, it will make us all even happier to see spring when it arrives. Thanks for sharing your garden birds ~ so many I'm not familiar with here. Happy New Year to you and your family.

A wildlife gardener said...

* Welcome back, Barbara...the birds bring us joy...but,I fancy some of that winter hibernation too :)!

* Welcome, Candycane...lovely to make your acquaintance :)

How wonderful to have so many hummingbirds coming to your window sills :)

* Great to have your company, Kathleen :)

I am a positive person and in the dark of winter, I try to pass on some of those positive vibes, for all things pass...even the dark days of winter...and we need to spread good cheer :)

Sally said...

Kudos to you W.G.! I don't know what to gush over first - the breath-taking photos, the beautiful writing or the entertaining videos. I enjoyed my visit very much. Thank you for sharing.

A wildlife gardener said...

* Good morning, dear Sally, and a warm welcome to you :)

I am overwhelmed by your generous comments...thank you so much :)

* Welcome, WSXWHX663, and thank you for visiting :)

jamjar said...

Such a beautiful post, I do love the snow and the light that it brings. I found myself standing at my back door in the evenings just looking out at the lumious white hills. Lovely to see all the wildlife in your garden, what a busy place it is.

Charm and Grace said...

These photos are just exquisite! Thanks for sharing those with us.


A wildlife gardener said...

* Good morning, Jamjar, and a warm welcome on this crisp frosty 1st of February :)

We only have patches of snow on the highest hills now...but it was awesome while it lasted :)

* A warm welcome to you, too, Christi...lovely to meet you :)

Happy to share...thanks for coming :)

kate smudges said...

I haven't blogged for ages, but am slowly getting back to it. Thank you for checking in on me and my apologies for not responding sooner. Watching The Pheasant and Taz video was great fun. You have such an amazing collection of birds arrive at Barleycorn. Your photos are lovely. I hope all is well with you. So true what you say about light. It is the one saving grace here during winter. The sun is breathtaking especially now.

A wildlife gardener said...

* A very warm welcome back to our little corner of paradise, dear Kate... I have missed your company in the garden :)

I agree with you...light is so special in the dark of winter. Thanks for taking time to visit me :)

Morning Glories in Round Rock said...

What a lovely post. I have let the cares of this world take over my life. It was like a breath of fresh air to read your beautiful thoughts and see your wonderful photos. I think my favorite is Barleycorn in the twilight--my favorite time of day.

A wildlife gardener said...

* A warm welcome to you, Morning glories in round rock...lovely to have your company :)

I am so glad you found peace of mind...gardens are healing places... :)

Jeanne said...

Beautiful my lovely friend
I treasure everything you share.
I love you