Gazing up at the
fat pink pom-poms, I sometimes
lose my balance.
Category Archives: Nature/Gardening
Gazing up at the
After a 24 hour journey we finally reached Australia! It’s spring here and I’m so enchanted by all of the flowering trees – magenta sprays of bougainvillea, clustered lilac jacaranda trees with branches like embroidered thread, long carob pods, and brilliant red flame trees. We’ve tried to just relax today but went down to a local park where we came across a Hang drummer. We couldn’t resist getting into a little jam with him and inviting him to the Brisbane Maha Kirtan on Saturday.
Dawn in the Harrison household. The first glow of orange tints the horizon. All is still.
Suddenly, a cacophony of alarms begin to sound. Electric beeping in six discordant tones, crackly self recorded music from mobile phone alarms, ringing sounds – coming from five different parts of the house. They ring for a few minutes, then gradually, abruptly stop. Exactly five minutes later, it all begins again. Someone stirs. Someone calls out for someone else to come and spray water on their face. The minutes pass. The third round of alarms begin.
We are a family with good intentions. We all value getting up early, and we all try, but we don’t always find it easy. Still, it’s much easier now that the seasons are changing. Winter in England is a terrible time to get up, whatever the hour. But now it’s almost May, and the mornings have been fresh, warm, and full of promise. Before the school children and people going to work stir the air, it’s heavy with the scent of spring blossoms, and the fields of yellow rapeseed nearby.
It’s not hard to feel inspired on mornings like this. In fact, I’m grateful for them, as they strengthen my resolve to be up early, no matter the season. In Vedic terms, this early time is called the brahma muhurta, and is considered extremely conducive to learning and elevating thought. I know I can feel it, very tangibly.
Today I came upon a quote I really like about getting up early, from Henry David Thoreau’s ‘Walden’. He said ‘All memorable events … transpire in morning time and in a morning atmosphere. The Vedas say ‘All intelligences awake in the morning.’ Poetry and art, and the fairest and most memorable of the actions of men, date from such an hour.’
I’ve been finishing of the bibliography for one of my university projects today, and I also found this piece of music, commonly sung every morning in the 1800s in Californian Mission churches – El Cantico del Alba. It praises the Virgin Mary, and I think it’s very uplifting and beautiful melody. I could write more about morning music, but perhaps I’ll save that for another blog.
Our cherry tree looks good in the morning too…
I read the Chronicle Books Blog, on which this was posted this morning. I find it so inspiring, and I think it’s so important to cultivate these kinds of projects in all communities. Some of my most vivid childhood memories are inextricably linked to nature, gardening and cooking, and I think that I’m a better, more environmentally aware person for it.
I bent down from my lofty height
as the driving rain fell all around.
He smoothly slid with all his might,
across the cracking concrete ground.
Each body part remained connected,
but he pushed himself beyond his range.
His goal and path were self directed,
but to reach, he had to make a change.
Why poke his head above the surface,
with body soft and progress slow?
Why put his entire life at risk-
his reasoning, I had to know.
I heard him give a wormly cry,
‘Leave the comfort of the earth!
You’ll won’t succeed unless you try-
choose a goal with real worth!’
A few weeks ago I went for a walk on my university campus. It’s set in the middle of Trent Country Park so there’s a beautiful beech forest, and plenty of interesting flora and fauna about. I passed the pond full of placidly swimming ducks, as I made my way back to the main building. Then I did a double take. Bobbing around in the water, pottering around the bank, were the strangest looking ducks I’d ever seen. They looked like something out of Alice in Wonderland, or the way a child would design a duck – wacky, bright orange sails for wings and white painted eyebrows.
I stood for a while, trying to figure out if I’d ever seen them before. The clouds rolled over, and it was almost a mystical moment. These strange creatures, from another world, appearing, like magic in a North London pond. I vowed to come back and photograph them, and solve the mystery.
Long story short. I came back a week later and there was no sign of them. Only plain old mallards, who couldn’t give me any useful information. I was disappointed, and put it down to coursework induced hallucination.
But! Today they were back! I’m not mad! I ran over to them in delight, getting some funny looks from passing joggers. When I got home and showed the pictures to my brother, he took out a bird book we have, and looked them up. It turns out they are Aix galericulata, the Mandarin duck. They come from Far East Asia, though destruction of their natural habitat there, means that their numbers have dramatically decreased. They exist in Britain because of escaped pairs from exotic bird collections, and they number about 7,000 here now. However, they’re not protected, because they’re not a native species.
A happy mystery solved. I spent the rest of the afternoon looking up books on linguistics and body language, and taking photos of the annual daffodil carpet that springs up on campus.