It has been discovered that some people, probably a tiny proportion of women, can see extra colours in the red-orange range. There are devices that are designed to drive kids away with high pitch sound that older people cannot hear. We have long known that some people can't assimilate words as well as others. Autism deprives you of the ability to read the emotions of others. Then, of course, there are the blind and the deaf. 

What other blindnesses are there that we don't yet know? 


The Slow Embers of the Earth

The black fen earth hides beside the ruler-straight road, as though the night itself has been discovered in its combed day-roost, ignored by those who speed past. But that blackness is a thin cliche. Stop for a moment and push your fingers into it and you find that fen soil is not black. Though it seems to be made mostly of soot and ink, if you look closely, if you raise a handful and show it to the sun, it will respond with a hidden ember of ground rubies. Somewhere amongst the peat and clay something deeply asleep holds the power of the sun, frozen. You can feel the ghost of that fire in your darkened fingers, waiting for the spring to melt it and the sun to kindle it back into life and then the fens will burst into green flame.


Three Beautiful Things - December

  1. The pink tongues and shining amber eyes of two dogs lying together exhausted after hours of newly-acquainted play.
  2. A tablefull of feasting guests, all bursting with good spirit.
  3. Goodbyes, and the moment of satisfied calm afterwards.

Black Dog

These fenland nights are as black as a glass of Guinness. On these same nights a year ago, the skies seemed full of stars. This year the night is full of rain. Nothing is seen, everything is felt and felt in the bones. The clouds glower all day and at night they press in like blankets soaked in cold ink. The ploughed earth is fat with peat, the furrows metalled with water, the ridges like fallen drunks replete from the sodden summer. The drains are a mile across, scudding with sooty, ripped trees which roll past, sticking against the bridges which they will soon flow over. The only colour is the red and yellow of the road-closed sign afloat on the water. Dark moulds creep in from the bathroom windows. Dark mud creeps up through the grass. The sky gathers bark-like against the moon, if the moon dares show its face. The last colour of the summer sits in the trees and drips and shivvers. All other colours are lost to the earth like broken soldiers. Crows in joyous hundreds, fountain into the sky to pay homage to the ancient swamp-born beast who rises with the risen flood and finds easy prey in the agued mist.


Green Reprise

It is easy to see how these fens breed superstition. Even in the wet and dark of winter, life wriggles forth. Myths emerge like dark butterflies, but there is a rawer power than that at work in this deep earth. 

Learning to restore fruit trees in an ancient, restored orchard I came upon a grove of apple trees that might have stood a thousand years. Their boughs cupped out low over the ground, each as thick around as my thigh. Each dressed in moss so green that even in the grey light it seemed ablaze. That glow pulled me into the grove, seducing me. Leaf free, fruit free, but so obviously and deeply alive.  There is no darkness that can completely enfold the life force in these trees and I longed to fold myself up in those strong green arms and be healed.

Here is the source of a thousand religions, and I want our orchard to live as long.