Ghosts in the Orchard

The family came to stay, and the Olds and those enfeebled by drink needed beds so I slept in the Orchard. Having reason to walk back to the house in the night, I found myself surrounded by ghostly white plumed moths shaped like crucifixes, their beautiful frilled wings like the opposite of motes of soot in the moonlight as I stirred them from the moonlit grass.


Ten Thousand Words for Green

It has rained until the sky is sore from it. The washes which were meadows are a great grey river which would humble the Thames or the Severn. The ditches are full and if you dig through the black mixture of fen peat and silt which makes up our pregnant earth until you reach the clay, the water runs over it like a conspiracy discovered.

And so everything is green. Even the umbrella plant, though it is indoors, has exploded in its new home as if inspired, its stem ripped apart by new growth and its leaves which were thin and waxy now thick like a succulent's. In the Junes of past years, the leaves would be acquiring their summer's dust. Not now. They are thick and washed every shade of green that there are words for. The beech is so verdant it may never turn bronze again. The grass punches at your feet. The night-planted orchard is enjoying the shyness of the sun. The apples, plums and cherries are still all emerald, like undifferentiated children drinking their fill. The leaves of the sage loll like dogs tongues. The whips that we planted to make into a summerhouse are drinking their fill and their neighbour, the great willow, waves its stranded leaves like a great mane and proclaims its joy to the skies. The shades of green are uncountable and unnameable.





Three Beautiful Things - South Uist


  1. Low mountains at dusk, stacked on top of each other in shades of purple-grey into the distance. The sea like worn blue glass below. The sky the colour of salmon above.
  2. The smell of peat smoke overlaid with the seashore and the seductive malt.
  3. The song of the short-earred owl eager for a mate.



Spilled ink against white sand.

Out of the shimmering white strand, with the glass-blue glass-green Hebridean sea behind, a tiny black dot shimmers into an orb and then a lobed globe. The lobes pulse, rocking from side to side. A shimmering pink tongue resolves itself and flapping ears startling oystercatchers into flight, all blood red needled bills. The rocking, bounding, staring shape of the pup emerges from the glow of the sand. Not such a pup now: small but muscled, manic but intent, returning from some unauthorised mission far away on the empty beach. The sound of thundering paws comes, and strained breath. He hurtles into our space, snatching at the toy in my hand, missing, skidding to a halt in a panting spray of white sand. His eyes, tongue and tail are all in motion, only his standing ears are still, listening to the two of us who have no need to speak. I nudge. She nudges back. 

I throw his toy into the sea and he is in motion again, spilled ink against the white sand.


Three Beautiful Things, driving to work

  1. The road runs parallel to the river, and the sun breaks the horizon directly over the length of water, so that the orange ball is stretched down the still water.
  2. A barn owl hovering beside the road, its wings set alight by the dawn.
  3. A naked willow, perfectly shattering the rising sun.