language, Poetry, trees, Uncategorized

Securus

sundappled riverSecurus. Just seeing that word can make me smile.

I cannot now recall where I first saw or heard it. But I rushed to note it down (all the better to capture it and keep it close?) once I read its gloriously uplifting definition:


securus (latin; adjective)

– free from care, fearless, composed, cheerful, bright, serene, safe.


Have you ever heard a more perfect description of a good life, a happy person, a wonderful aim?
My blogs are usually wordy, but this one single word, this marvellous little dose of lexical soul-medicine… well, I reckon it can just be a blog in its entirety. Because I can literally add nothing more to a word like securus.

May the good people of this world be forever securus.

PS.  please, Latin purists, please don’t get on my case about cases.  I know.  But right now, I only want one version of securus. Because life really is too short, too important, and too complex to be fretting about case-determined inflections.  This time, grammar can wait.

 

(photo by Daisy – no reproduction without permission, please)

culture, history, language, Photography, Time, Uncategorized

Time, part 1: midnight

ungraspable timeTime is a foreigner to me.

A dark-eyed beauty who blinks seductively, hypnotically, then slips away before I can grasp it or hold onto it, leaving just the sense of Time having been and gone in a teasing, faintly mocking, clocking, tick-tocking encounter.

No wonder I’m so often just a little late (versus the precise alignment of metal lines on a disc of numbers, or liquid crystals in a set of tiny square window frames set under a glass top): I’m forever only getting the gist of Time’s language, not the detail.

Time is a foreign language to me.

I fail to understand it, no matter how loudly or slowly it continues to repeat its incessant, strident labelling of my days and nights. I have tried. I have watched Time passing, tried to feel its pulse, tried to assimilate the system by which my culture (European, for now) insists it should be measured. And I have failed. Because I cannot grasp it or sense it in any useful way, when utilising this abstract conceptualisation of time.

Time is an abstraction to me.

Abstract concepts of Time are a very Western thing. This First World determination to parcel up and delineate something as ancient and infinite as Time has been a kind of control freakery bordering on hysteria. Or arrogance. …As bad as climbing mountains “because they are there”, “conquering” them, with a view to making of the word ‘summit’ a verb (about a human climber) rather than a noun (about an upcrop of this glorious planet)… but that’s another blog, so I’d best not deviate. Not for a bit, anyway. (note the unspecific time indicator, there, and don’t even get me started on the use of ‘summit’ as a noun indicating a clutch of over-privileged, dangerously empowered Stale Pale Males taking private jets to a golf-course-sized monoculture of well-irrigated lawn with attendant 7-star facilities in the middle of a salty atoll or parched desert… breathe, Daisy, breathe!)

Time is a dark wonder to me.

Many simpler cultures (usually in a tribal or pristine state, unsullied by our greedy ‘modern’ handprints that start as a wave and turn into a slap) see time in a totally reversed way to the First World countries. They will tell you that the future is behind you, not in front of you. This took me a while to grasp, but once I did, I was amazed – and delighted – at how this concept of Time made total sense.

Time harnessed

Imagine being on a train, one of those old-fashioned ones which hurtled startled Victorians across ‘new’ (to them) continents at a speed almost suffocating (to them). Imagine you’re sat at the back of the train, looking out through that little  windowed door on the end which has a railing and steps, and that you’re watching the landscape flinging itself into your field of vision, coming from behind you and to your sides, and then receding away in front of you. Well, that view is Time to many so-called ‘primitive’ peoples: Time is invisible, unknowable when it is the future; but visible (though disappearing fast) when it is in the present; and invisible (though able to be remembered) when it is in the past. If I’ve confused you, just remember that to say that you are travelling backwards through Time, not forwards, is merely a matter of differing social semantics: Time cannot be defined in relation to your physical location.

Time is out of my control.

That ‘travelling in reverse’ is one pretty important distinction, though. Humans should not think they can ever have a hope of seeing the future or controlling it, is what that ‘primitive’ view seems to suggest. Seeing Time in this way is a useful means of sweeping away the natural arrogance of assumed control, and to relax about the stressful impossibility of ever arriving ‘on time’: on whose time, exactly? And do people really have nothing better to do than fume, if the person for whom they wait is ten minutes ‘late’ in relation to their measuring of The Time? Could they not reverse their perception, and see that ten minutes as a gift? A precious little longer to engage in the present, to wonder at the Here and Now, to (gasp!) daydream and ‘do nothing’ but look. “Time to stand and stare…”

Time is a cruel enslavement.segments

And who decided, and why, that the best way to divide up each terrestrial spin was into 24 chunks (why not 25? or 10? or 3?) , then 60 minutes (which weren’t even measurable with any certainty until relatively recently in human history), then seconds and micro-seconds  and milli-seconds and nano- and and and… oh spare me, will we never break our thirst for self-flagellating in this way?  It is like a tyranny of technology: if we measure in those tiny segments, we have to live at that pace. No wonder life has become so dizzyingly frenetic in the ‘modernised’ world.

 

Time is, was, and always will be.

I sense midnight at my heels, creeping around my feet to scuttle off into shadowy depths ahead of me. I feel rather than hear it ‘strike’. Hurtling backwards into my future on that train, there are obscuring swirling smuts and steam all around. I realise that Time is indeed breathing down my neck. How appropriate, then, that we to attempt to locate and  pin down Time using the word ‘tense’.

midnight supermoon

 

All photographs (& effects) by Daisy. No reproduction without permission, please.

 

 

 

Avebury, landscape, Nature, Photography, Uncategorized, Wiltshire

Avebury’s energy, solar & otherwise

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It was a Whitethroat singing in the treetop, its notes bouncing and scattering as if juggled by the wind. It kept its mystery by wearing silhouette black until it trusted those watching not to pursue it with more than their ears and eyes.  Then it revealed itself with a flash of white and buff feathers, as cool a palette as the ground up on the Ridgeway, as chalky as the field edges. A sudden flicker of energy, the bird darted down into the hedgerow shrubs then back to the tree, like punctuation or a page turn. Then the watchers moved off, grateful but chased by the need to visit the valley before the threatened rain.

This was a good start to a wonderful walk in Wiltshire. A greeting of sorts. If the whitethroat sang the Matins, the rooks sang the Vespers (“sang” is a generous term, given their cries tend to sound more like warnings, or irritated judgements of those below their acrobatics). The omens were good, the forecast bad. The wind was doing its best to scrub away the clouds from a Wedgewood blue sky, but more were marching in, aerial icebergs moving magisterially along the width of the valley. Yet the rain took pity on the watchers and took a day off. The huge, muscular clouds knew how good they looked and puffed up with pride, resisting the relentless half-gentled wind trying to move them on out of the valley. This was weather on steroids. A sky on a trip. A sky for a trip. A good day to meet with a friend new to the place, whom I truly wanted to “feel” Avebury. Still, it was with trepidation that I stepped out, through the gate, into the circle of stones. Please, I thought, please like this place; please understand why I do.

I am used to Avebury taking me by surprise, despite my many visits, but this time I was almost silenced (a rare thing in company!) by the astonishing light and magnitude of sky almost dwarfing the stones. But of course, this just made me feel even smaller. A useful rebalancing of perspective is always the reward of an outside day filled with Nature: as you don’t matter so much, your problems matter even less. Avebury’s circle was peppered liberally with people, it being a school holiday. I am used to a more deserted space (or a Solstice throng!), so some waiting was needed for taking photographs sans smiling visitors…though I should add that I love the stones to be appreciated and shared. Avebury is not a Stonehenge, whose stones are as fenced off and aloof as race horses in the round; rather it is a wild scattering of curious mustangs. Visitors may approach and reach up to marvel at those which gather close, or wander wide and long to search out those more shy and less often seen.

For me, it was a relief to see that Avebury knew she had new people to impress, and my heart sang out gratefully to those big sunlit stones and wide bright skies.  The day was full in its generosity. Was that just a sparkle of the sun or did I see the Queen Stone wink at me? “Did you really think we’d disappoint, child?” she seemed to say. Hours of walking later, recalibrated, aglow with the Avebury energy, I levered off shoes caked with chalk and mud. Chalky white dust fluttered down. Like the scattering of notes of the Whitethroat singing its praises in a high hedgerow.

Panorama of the centre of Avebury circle