environment

Brighter Colours

It's the start of a new month.

Can you believe it?

For us here in the northern hemisphere, we're moving into the summer season and here in Jersey in the Channel Islands the weather is warming up.

I'm one of those people who loves the warm weather. It might come from my spending a lot of my childhood and teenage years living in Africa, but I just think it's because ... well I love the warm weather!

I love the feel of the sun on my skin, I love swimming in the sea and summer IS the best time for that. I love that I feel lighter in my head and my heart when there's less darkness and the days are longer.

The colours seem brighter - the new leaves on the trees are greener, the colours of the flowers in parks, gardens and in the hedgerows appear more vibrant, the sky bluer! It's at this time that I feel especially blessed to live in a lovely island like Jersey.

So today, as we enter the month of May, I'm just going to share a photograph I took a week ago, in the Parade Gardens in St Helier, just a short walk from where I live.

Have a lovely Saturday everyone!

Spring flowers 1

 

 


Celebrating Earth Day

Today is Earth Day.

Every year since 1970 this has been annual event designed for us all to demonstrate support for environmental protection. It's grown over the decades and lots of important environmental events have happened on Earth Day.

This year on Earth Day, today, there will be a Global Climate Summit, convened by the US President Joe Biden and held virtually I'm guessing because of coronavirus. Among other things it is designed to be a 'critical stepping stone for the U.S. to re-join the world in combating the climate crisis', having agreed to re-sign the Paris Agreement.  It's just one of the events being planned today and just one example of how Earth Day continues to be a momentous and unifying day every year.  These days it's reckoned that 1 billion people in more than 193 countries will mark Earth Day in some way.

And so to MY contribution.

A couple of years ago, I recorded a series for BBC Radio Jersey with the Jersey artist and iconographer Karen Blampied.

She has created something called The Earthday Icon ... inspired by the ancient nature embedded in the Eastern Orthodox Church Calendar, which each September celebrates Creation and which has a three year cycle, ending every year with the feast of St Francis of Assisi and the Blessing of the Animals. During this liturgical time of Creation, each Sunday is dedicated to a specific aspect of creation and the Earthday icons depicts forests, land, wilderness, rivers, skies, mountains, the universe, animals, storms, oceans and more, all with spiritual significance.

Karen's inspiration is to 'highlight the need of all people to be stewards of the Earth' and this really inspires ME.

I loved working with Karen on this series and the audio we produced is still on the BBC Radio Jersey website.

So today, to mark Earth Day, I'm including the links to the programme features.

You will have to click on each link to listen ... hope you don't mind doing that. But it's really interesting!

Enjoy! And be inspired and blessed!


Earthday icon KBlampiedEarthday Icon #1 - Ocean - Karen chats to me about the role of the sea in the Creation story

Earthday Icon #2 - Flora & Fauna - Karen in conversation with me about her icon

Earthday Icon #3 Storm - Karen chats to me about depicting weather & climate in her icon

Earthday Icon #4 Cosmos - Karen talks to me about depicting God and the heavens in her icon

Earthday Icon #5 Blessing of the Animals - Discovering Karen's inspiration for the animals in her icon

 

*Earthday icon image copyright - Karen Blampied


Laughing Out Loud

Have you ever had one of those moments when life feels so great that you just want to smile, and laugh out loud?

I had one of those moments last week when walking on St Catherine's Breakwater in Jersey. After a stressful few weeks it felt great to just be in the fresh air and walking. I could see the French coastline in the distance ... it was Glorious! 

I've always loved St Catherine's, not just because it's also my name, but because when you walk the breakwater, it feels like you're stepping into the ocean. The breakwater is about half a mile (700metres) long so a stroll to the end and back is about a mile and it's an easy walk. Even if it's busy you feel like you're getting away from it all and it always fills me with joy, whatever the weather.

The other day spring was in the air, the sea was calm in the bay, the sun was shining and there was a bit of of breeze on the coast. As I walked to the end of the breakwater, it felt a little more windy, but I was bundled up against the chill and it was exhilarating. When I reached the end of the breakwater, looking out to sea across to the French coast, I breathed in the clean air and my heart began to soar. I found myself laughing out loud.

Now, I don't often film myself, let alone when I doing something like smiling and laughing, but I did switch on the phone-camera the other day. It's nearly a month ago that I finished work with the BBC and started a New Adventure as a freelance writer/broadcaster/PR and communications expert, and lots of my friends and family members have been so kind to check on me from time to time, to see how I'm doing. So I sort of wanted to show them not just the beauty of St Catherine's, share some sounds of the ocean, which I find so relaxing, but also that I'm doing ok in my New Adventure!

There's a quote which sums up the benefits of laughter for me and which is attributed to the English poet, satirist and politician Lord Byron, who died on this day in 1824. I'm not going to talk much about him today ... I may do that another time ... just to say he was a bit of a character, to say the least. I remember studying his poetry at school as part of our exploration of the Romantic poets of the late 18th/early 19th century, and learning about some of his physical and romantic antics! 

And from what I discovered he was a bit of a 'lad' and certainly enjoyed life.

So I can imagine him saying something like this ...

Byron laughter
There's loads of science which indicates that smiling and laughing is good not just for our physical but also our mental health. So today I hope YOU find something which makes you Laugh Out Loud!

And if you want to smile with me ... here's my moment at St Catherine's ...

Have a great day everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Thankful for Spring

Early April can be a funny old time of year.

First it's a bit warm, then we're plunged into winter conditions again. Light breezes give way to gales. One day the sun is bright, the next the sky is laden with clouds and those 'spring showers' feel a bit more like winter downpours.

It's like the weather can't make up it's mind what to do.

The daffodils and primroses are around and then disappear. The trees have buds but are not yet green. 

It's like nature is about to surprise us, but we just need to wait a little while longer.

But yet in the midst of all the confusion, there's hope on the horizon.

Spring IS a lovely, optimistic season and I for one, am ready for spring this year and hopeful for a new beginning ... 

Thankful for spring
 

 


Daffodils

Today I'm thinking about Spring and that wonderfully cheerful flower - the daffodil.

Over the past few weeks Jersey has been festooned with the bright yellow trumpet shaped blooms  - in gardens, in fields and on hedgerows. It's been glorious!

I think daffodils have the ability to raise our spirits, make us smile and even get the creative juices flowing.

Daffodils poem april 7Back in April 1802 a poet called William Wordsworth was taking a walk with his sister Dorothy around Glencoyne Bay, Ullswater, in the Lake District, when they came across a "long belt" of daffodils. A couple of years later that memory led to the creation of one of the world's most popular poems ... called 'I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud' or 'Daffodils'.

Years ago I visited Wordsworth's Lake District home in Northwest England - Dove Cottage - and one day I might chat about that as well. It's a place I had always wanted to visit, ever since I read Wordsworth as a teenager, including this fantastic poem. In fact, his sister Dorothy also wrote about seeing the daffodils in all their glory in her Journals ... again another brilliant read, if ever you fancy it.

So today, to mark the birthday of William Wordsworth - born on this day April 7 1770 - I bring you his immortal lines...

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
and twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not be but gay,
in such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
what wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

William Wordsworth


Smile! It's Saturday!

Not much to say today ... apart from the fact that ... it's Saturday!

I'm so happy!

It's the first weekend in March, so if you're in the northern hemisphere, I hope Spring is 'springing' wherever you are, that you maybe get a chance to get out into the fresh air and you have an opportunity for a bit of rest and relaxation. 

If you're somewhere else ... enjoy whatever season it is where you are!

That's all ... have a great day!

Saturday smile*image by Cathy Le Feuvre ... isn't it lovely?


The Sound of Spring

First week of March and Spring is definitely in the air.

Every morning right now I awake to a lovely sound. In the trees in the garden next to mine ... loads of birds just celebrating the arrival of the day.

Because there are no leaves on the branches yet, you can see them up there singing their hearts out. 

It's glorious ... so let me just share this glorious Sound of Spring with you today.

Hope it brings joy to you hearts!

 


Running Water

 

Today I'm a bit weary and a little stressed out, so I'm just sharing a sound with you which hopefully will help me, and you, feel more calm.

I filmed this earlier this week near St Brelade's Church in St Brelade's Bay in Jersey.

We've had a lot of rain recently, so the streams are running freely, and this is the water from a stream pouring into the bay near the little harbour. The tide was just coming up and the sun just going down, and in the distance you can see the wide sweep of the bay looking over to Ouaisne Bay.  That's one of my favourite bays for swimming in the spring, summer and autumn. Can't wait!

Glorious!

Enjoy!

St brelades 3



Spring is on the Way!

I was trying to find something to cheer us for the weekend and I found this quote.

Feburary patience strong

Don't you love that? 

We've started into Lent, as I've been saying all week, and although it's a time for reflection, it's also a time of 'anticipation' of Easter.

I love the optimism and simplicity of this thought. And if you're a bit fed up of February, take heart. Spring is on the way!

I have some daffodils in my garden already, and I've seen snowdrops and even some primroses in the hedgerows! I do live in the farthest south outreaches of the British Isles, in Jersey in the Channel Islands, where we do have milder winters than other places, so we are already on course for spring, despite the bitter cold and even snow of recent weeks!

But when I saw the quote it also got me thinking about the author - Patience Strong.

It's a name I've known well pretty much all my life. I remember my mum having several Patience Strong poetry books when I was young. It was quite spiritual poetry, the sort that was great for  church, or inspiring women's groups. Patience's poetry is traditional in that it rhymes and it's simple, often short verse, and yes, sometimes sentimental, with themes of nature, faith and strength.

So I did a bit of digging to find out more about the woman behind the verse.

The poet was actually born Winifred Emma May in June 1907 in England. Her poems, prose and thoughts have been collected in numerous anthologies, and they are often brought together to create a collection of 'daily'' inspirational thoughts. Some under the title of 'Friendship Book'.

What I didn't know was that Winnifred also wrote books, dealing with Christianity and practical psychology, and that she was an accomplished musician and lyricist. I read that in 1930, she even wrote a song for the 4th birthday of Princess Elizabeth - now Queen Elizabeth II.

She was much more than the seemingly sweet sentimental poetry I first knew her for.

Patience's popular poems were first featured in The Daily Mirror  newspaper in England in the 1930s and throughout the Second World War her daily poems appeared in a section called 'The Quiet Corner'. They brought comfort and inspiration to a generation of people living through terrible conflict.

But why 'Patience Strong'? Well apparently  the name  came from a book by an American poet and writer called Adeline Dutton Train Whitney. She published more than 20 books for girls in her lifetime, in the mid to late 19th century. ADT Whitney's books expressed a traditional view of women's roles and were popular throughout her life. One of them, published in 1868 was entitled 'Patience Strong's Outings'.

I wonder if that book made a deep impact on Winnifred? Maybe it was a book that had inspired her as a young girl? Who knows?

Whatever the reason for her choosing her pen name, I've always been a bit intrigued by it and I think it was a clever choice. It mixes two important emotions - Patience and Strength. To be truly patient with the world and with life, and with relationships takes really strength. And the name has certainly stood the test of time, because Patience aka Winnifred's poetry and words are still around, and enjoyed by millions of people every year.

Earlier I was chatting about spring flowers, so as we wait for Spring to appear  - here's one of her poems which is just in the moment ... 

Bulbs
by Patience Strong


I've put my bulbs in coloured bowls and hidden them away -
Inside my cupboard, where they cannot see the light of day -
I've put them in the soft black mould as cosy as can be -
And in the quiet darkness they will work their mystery . . .

And when all things lie lifeless locked in winter's frozen sleep -
Inside my cupboard one sweet day a pale green tip will peep.
I'll bring them out into the light and set them in my room -
And silently and secretly they'll grow and bud and bloom -
The grey old house will waken from its drowsy slumbering,
To find the rooms ablaze with flowers, as if it were the Spring! . . .

With daffodils and hyacinths, narcissi, tulips too -
A flaring mass of loveliness in gold and pink and blue -
And I shall smile, remembering my small part in the show -
For though we plant and tend the bulbs -
it's God that makes them grow.


(found on Bulbs, Patience Strong Poems (stresslesscountry.com)


Groundhog Day

Do you have a favourite film? 

Or maybe you have a few movies that would be in your Top Ten? If you were making a list.

Are you an action movie fan, or a sci fi fanatic, or perhaps like me you prefer RomComs, a little light  romance and comedy? 

I have to admit, there are some movies that I can watch over and over and over and over and over... and not get bored. And one of those is linked to today.

February 2nd in North America - the USA and Canada - is Groundhog Day and I love the Bill Murray movie of the same name. More of that in a moment.

GroundhogBut first ... what IS a 'groundhog'

Well, it's a kind of rodent, and apparently belongs to the marmot or ground squirrel family. It's found in the USA, Canada and into Alaska. Among other characteristics, they have big teeth and they live in burrows. When fully grown a groundhog can be as long as 27inches (about 69cm) and can weigh as much as 14pounds (over 6kg). I've been doing my research and all I can say is, that groundhog is not a small squirrel!

One of the important things to know about the groundhog is that are hibernators. They often dig a separate 'winter burrow', which they build below the frost line, which means even when it's frozen up top, the animals can safely sleep away the winter months without fear of freezing to death. Usually, groundhogs hibernate from October to March or April, or thereabouts. 

And that's relevant to the tradition of Groundhog Day (the actual day) which apparently is an old superstition from the Pennsylvania Dutch community in America, which says that if a groundhog emerges early from it's burrow - on February 2 - then it can tell us if Spring is on its way.

So the legend goes, if the groundhog sees its shadow due to clear weather, it will quickly nip back into its burrow, and winter will go on for six more weeks. If, however, the animal does NOT see its shadow because it's too cloudy, Spring will arrive early!

All this predicting the weather is part of ancient 'weather lore' which is found in lots of cultures, including German speaking areas (and the Pennsylvania Dutch people come from Germanic-speaking areas of Europe) where the animal predicting the weather is usually a badger, but sometimes a bear or a fox.

And these weather lore predictions are also linked to the Christian festival of Candlemas, which we also celebrate today. Tradition has it that if the weather is clear on Candlemas, we're in for a long winter!

Now of course there's no scientific evidence for such weather predictions, but it's fun isn't it? 

In North America, February 2nd has taken on a special significance. Groundhog Day ceremonies happen on this day across the USA and Canada, but it's in a place called Punxsutawney in western Pennsylvania, that the most popular ceremony occurs, where the focus is a groundhog called 'Punxsutawney Phil'.

And that's the link to the 1993 movie that I mentioned at the start.

'Groundhog Day' starring Bill Murray and Andy MacDowell is largely located in Punxsutawney around the iconic ceremony and the film has not only helped to immortalise the seasonal celebration, but the concept of it has also added a new phrase to our dictionary.

If you haven't ever seen the movie then sorry for the spoiler. Bill Murray plays a cynical (and rather obnoxious) TV weatherman called Phil who is sent to cover the Groundhog Day ceremony, and then finds himself in a time loop through which he is forced to re-live February 2nd ... Groundhog Day ... over and over and over, until he becomes a better person. He learns to live each moment at a time, rather than always chasing ambition and celebrity.

As a result of the movie which was conceived, co-written and directed by Harold Ramis,  we now use the phrase 'Groundhog Day' for any situation which is monotonous, repetitive and even unpleasant and boring.

Since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, lots of us feel like we've been living Groundhog Day - don't we?

Working from home, staying in and not being able to go out and mingle with others, not being able to see family members - much of our time during 2020 and into 2021 has felt so repetitive and monotonous. I think 'Groundhog Day' is a great way of describing my pandemic experience.

But just as Weatherman Phil in the movie came out of his Groundhog Day a better person, so I believe we can emerge from the COVID19 experience improved and finer examples of humanity.

Early on in the pandemic, especially, we saw so many acts of kindness and caring. The Thursday 8pm 'Clap for Carers' which some are still doing as they Clap for their Heroes. People checking on their neighbours, delivering food and medicines, thinking of others. 

And although Covid fatigue might have stolen a little of that from us as the months have progressed, I believe this time has shown us what a kinder and more compassionate world can look like. 

I'd like to believe that a memory of that kindness might be part of the legacy of our Pandemic Groundhog Day, along with the realisation that life is short and that, no matter how much status and money and position and ambition we chase, perhaps we just need to take more time to breathe, to enjoy our environment and the beauty of the world around us, to appreciate our loved ones more, and maybe even take pleasure in the simple things - like a walk on a Spring morning - no matter when that might be.