“Quiet hours at home” – January

Welcome to my first journal entry of the New Year!

It’s taken me some time to decide on what to write to you, perhaps because it’s taken longer than usual to decide for myself, what to focus on this January.

Then, as usual, looking at my photographs, the books I’m reading and what I’ve been inspired by during my winter walks have all brought me to the conclusion that it is the light  at this time of year, at varying times of the day, that has brought me most joy and inspiration.

Every time I go for a walk in the countryside, I always see things that uplift me and fill me with new ideas. My imagination is sparked, or my memory jogged.

We usually head over to the Norfolk coast at this time of year, to see the baby seals that are born on the beaches at Winterton and Horsey. This year we couldn’t get there but I was reminded of a visit we made two years ago when, on our return inland, we saw a flock of pink footed geese descend upon a muddy field and a brilliant blazing orange sunset. The memory reminded me of this beautiful poem by Kevin Crossley-Holland. I particularly like the last line which reassures that the days are slowly getting longer and springtime will come again, the knowledge that birds and beasts possess, like the fishermen of Norfolk who knew the seasons by the patterns of the fish and the stars in the sky:

Wintering Grounds

They’re back!

Back from the capes

of Greenland, and Spitzbergen, Iceland,

their ranks ragged, frosty-grey arrowheads

and groups of outliers in wavering lines.

What is it so tugs the heart?

Sheer wonder it has happened again

the same geese, these same acres –

and, crick-necked on our doorsteps,

the sudden surge of wild longings?

Is it their conversation, so scratchy, terse,

insisting nothing is easy on earth?

Their fierce delight, rounding on a field

of waste potatoes, barley stubble –

or our own, knowing good times lie ahead?

If you’d like to read more of Kevin Crossley-Holland’s poetry, or find out more about where to find the geese or seals, please visit:

Kevin Crossley-Holland

Norfolk Wildlife Trust

Friends of Horsey Seals