Saturday, 19 January 2013

snow days!

I have been wanting to add some pictures here for a while and for once the camera battery was fully charged at the right time. That's the thing with our boat's 12 volt system - anything with a plug and needing charging with the inverter has to form an orderly queue. Generally the laptop and phone get in first. Yes, a solar panel would be a good thing, but my concern is that we would then be tempted to acquire more things with plugs which we probably don't need.
Just before the snow fell, a walker on the towpath glanced at our little boat, shivered and said he was very glad to have central heating. Inside, we are warm and cosy - our solid fuel stove throws out quite enough heat, too much sometimes, and then we have to  open the windows. And talking of energy, we can also change our gas supplier whenever we like. We got our last bottle from Will Coalboat, the time before that we went to a marina (don't tell Will!).
Like kids waiting for Santa, we were looking forward to the snow - our first snow on the boat! I was so disappointed at 3am on Friday when it still hadn't arrived. But by 7, the boats and the gound were covered and the snow was still falling. One of my favourite things about snow is the kind of silence that it brings. Less traffic, fewer people, but also a muffled quality. Like being wrapped in a blanket. Like being in a magical world. The road was hidden from view and as we looked up through the trees and saw a single street lamp still on. Like Narnia! We failed to find the wardrobe so we came home.
At dusk, I looked up from my work to see a bid of prey landing on the fence post opposite the window, a kestrel or a falcon, not sure which. The mallards who had been cruising up and down in the hope of bread went very quiet and drew up close to the side of the boat. The finches and the longtailed tits disappeared. We watched enchanted as the hunter took off and flew in large sweeping arcs, scanning every inch of the snow covered ground for prey. Then he moved on, and cautiously the ducks came out of hiding.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Strange fruit?

An item on Radio 4 today made me smile, about how to prepare and eat a persimmon. Apparently they are being hailed as a new superfood and the food expert being interviewed said that now is a good time to try them as they are "in season", yes, they are if you live in the Middle East or a Meditarannean country...and more "interesting" than apples. Nice bit of promotion of British fruit growers there, good one BBC!
I don't have anything against persimmons at all. Seeing them in supermarkets brings back good memories. I first ate them 20 years ago in Israel where I spent a few months doing voluntary work in a convent in Jersusalem. Maybe some things just taste better where they are grown. I did try an imported one a couple of years ago and it was much drier and had less flavour than I remembered. It was a more hopeful time then, with a peace process being negotiated. Hard to imagine now, seeing the escalating violence, that there too people go about their lives doing ordinary things, like eating fruit the colour of the sun.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

The morning after

The waning moon grows paler
with the rising sun.
A grey boat, engine softly purring
pushes through the morning mist -
Happy New Year! Happy New Year!
they shout and wave from the roof
then they are gone
and the silence folds back on itself.

A dark crumpled thing
like charred paper
tumbles out of the willow,
becomes blackbird,
flies away.

Heron fishes at the edge
of a small oxbow lake
made by flood water,
while cormorant
is just passing

Kingfisher zigzags
canal and river,
river and canal.

Catkins teasing from the hazel
could be mistaken for spring
too soon, too soon.

This new day
this new year
and I am home.