Pilgrimpace's Blog

September 22, 2016, 4:17 pm
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“That day in my October on Bardsey, as I lay on my back straining to see migrant birds flying south overhead, I wondered whether I was being cradled by a grave.  Could this local curve of the earth be a human valley?  Rain clouds were building out in the Irish Sea.  A peregrine bolted fast overhead, a bird with a wandering name on an island of pilgrims, though this one was a resident.  Behind it, tumbling blackly and brilliantly off the high ridge of the eastern side of Bardsey, was a gang of choughs, rarest and most bouyant of all the crows, mopping at the sky.  I sat up to watch them and saw a nun walking through the bottom of the field.  She lived alone on the island, tending to the however many thousand souls.  She wore chough-black clothes but had armed herself against the coming squall with a plastic cape made from a cut-open fertilizer sack of translucent blue, the colour of a Tiepolo sky or a dunnock’s egg”

– Time Dee A Year on the Wing


There are worse fates than being alone for the day with a pile of books and space to think.  A Year on the Wing is excellent – another of those nature books that expands your heart and soul, as well as knowing a bit more about the world, about birds, about people.

The knee shows some signs of easing.

Prayers for you all.

sky and land


I continued to walk the island, being tutored in patience, a pilgrim waiting for revelations. My devotions were simple. My feet remembered stiles and paths from all those years before as I moved from the rough heather moor of the north to the crofted south. 

. – Tim Dee A Year on the Wing


moorland path The Pennines

May Day


My friend Chris has reminded me of this fourteenth century poem by Gruffydd ap Dafydd from Richard Mabey’s excellent Flora Britannica.

Happy May Day




Right, we are back in the business of blogging.  It has been a bit full of late.  Perhaps not much space in the next week or so – if you pray, please remember Sammy and Frank and their families – their funerals are this week.

I will be posting a long article which is an attempt to write up last week’s excellent Conference of the Birmingham Outer Estates Group.

I have finally got round to reading Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk which is very good.  I am not interested in arguments about what is or isn’t proper nature writing.  This is a very good book about grief and depression and recovery and goshawks and what it is to be human in relation to nature.

This passage is well worth mulling over:

All the way home on the train I thought of Dad and the terrible mistake I had made. I’d thought that to heal my great hurt, I should flee to the wild. It was what people did. The nature books I’d read told me so. So many of them had been quests inspired by grief or sadness. Some had fixed themselves to the stars of elusive animals. Some sought snow geese. Others snow leopards. Others cleaved to the earth, walked trails, mountains, coasts and glens. Some sought wildness at a distance, others closer to home. ‘Nature in her green, tranquil woods heals and soothes all afflictions,’1 wrote John Muir. ‘Earth hath no sorrows that earth cannot heal.’

Now I knew this for what it was: a beguiling but dangerous lie. I was furious with myself and my own unconscious certainty that this was the cure I needed. Hands are for other human hands to hold. They should not be reserved exclusively as perches for hawks. And the wild is not a panacea for the human soul; too much in the air can corrode it to nothing.

advent journey – weather

along the ridge from the Rollright Stones

The weather report sounded like an incantation against the gods.                    – Melissa Harrison Clay

freshness of being
November 10, 2015, 4:28 pm
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When a tree is growing, it’s tender and pliant.  But when it is dry and hard, it dies.  Hardness and strength are death’s companions.  Flexibility and weakness are expressions of freshness of being.

– Andre Tarkovsky

Light 2
November 1, 2015, 4:09 pm
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After grey days
and a misty morning
only the clock tells us
that the light is dying