After an evening of snow and a day of rain, we had a night of star studded skies. Frost lay on the ground and sparkled in the end of year sun.
The sun is at is lowest ebb, spilling milky rays across the chilled earth. By swimming in a warm lake and gathering round a fire in the surrounding forest, we celebrated the summer solstice a whole six months ago. But now is a time of lengthening days and gradual renewal.
After six months of living above our heads, the leaves are now and thousand-and-one amongst our feet. Like a November firework or the setting sun, their last act is their brightest.
With the leaves on the ground, cold branches stand stark against the sky. On the ground below, snow turned to ice and chilled our feet.
In the one of the days between Christmas and New Years Eve, we ventured to the high point near our home. Surrounded by heath and woodland, Thurstaston Hill stands overlooking land and sea. The estuary reflected the glistening horizon and in the distance, turbines whirred in the sea air. Our daily lives may be more concrete and tarmac, but we all need these wilder spaces.
In our little back garden, we are striving to do big things.The human message of our outdoor spaces, from cities to farmland to gardens, is so often about control and manipulation. Instead of battling nature with sprays, powders and weedkillers, we celebrate the life that creeps and crawls, flits and flies.
Why not embrace the living things that move in naturally? Why not see the weeds as the wildflowers they really are?
We cannot rely on the odd nature reserve to sustain wildlife. We can start by maintaining our gardens as breathing spaces for ourselves and the life that inhabits it.
We have watched wildlife flourish and grow in our small patch of green. It has been a life affirming experience.
But our garden is not just a breathing space for creepy crawlies. It’s productive too. The first carrots we harvested were spindly and mightn’t win first prize in a beauty contest, but crunching into them is a moment of summer that isn’t forgotten. Just like our own lives, as the seasons roll by, there is life and death, growth and decay. In quiet corners of our garden, we leave nature to do its thing. It mightn’t be neat, but it’s alive.
Tonight, the three of us took to the coast.
The days are shortening, but there is no hint of the damp days and dark nights to come. We are sliding into August and the sun is still rolling up high in the sky, before falling back down into a flood of gold and amber.
Honeyed light hung across the estuary and coastline. Water, sand, wheat, shone every shade of gold in the setting sun.
Over two summer nights, we walked along Thurstaston, with its open vistas of the estuary, and Heswall shore, between a rolling golf course and the grassland of the Dee.
Nights like these are the summers we imagine and the days we so rarely get- soft light, birdsong, warmth.
A paraglider soared overhead, silhouetting the arch across the setting sun.
Sometimes, our hearts become entwined with a time, a person, a place. For me, the open coast, in front of a setting sun, is one of those.