When I lived in Utah, our house sat below an almost sheer rockface about 750 ft. high that extended along the southwest corner of the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument, a vast desolate, enthralling wilderness. I often would leave home and walk along a series of ATV trails that wound along the edge of the monument at the base of this extended wall, like the end of a monstrous glacier, except that it was brown and beige and rust and sienna and purple and yellow and ochre and salmon colored. The trails curved through a large stand of junipers and pinyon pines and rocks of all sizes, shapes, and colors were strewn about all over the undulating ground. Often I would leave the trail and ascend to the edge of the wall itself where I would find marvelously hued rocks that had calved off and lay among other bits and pieces of age-old sedimentary stone. In the winter, following a good snowfall, the broad evergreen limbs of the trees would be heavy with snow and the crunch of my steps along the way would be like the sound of a metronome keeping track of my progress. Jackrabbit tracks would crisscross my path and every so often I would catch a glimpse of these speedy critters disappearing over a white mound to avoid me. Sometimes I would carry a good cigar with me, find a nice quiet spot, and indulge my bad habit while contemplating the scudding clouds or, more simply, the toes of my boots. All this… this is what memory is for.
I do so love your renditions of memories and couldn't agree with you more about using our memories in this way. Unfortunately, my memories have been somewhat 'cramped' and distorted by the negative experiences of life. However, when walking in the woods, fields or mountains, these negativities can temporarily be put to one side and those beautiful, natural things around us can be appreciated for what they are, rather than what they pretend to be.
Every now and then, these scenes will prompt me into versification so, on this occasion, I will share two of those moments of awe, wonder and contemplation.
PS: In rhyme 2, Place names are not likely to be recognised by those living outside the area and my apologies if this makes the rhyme confusing.
A kestrel floating on the wing
is the most amazing thing.
It’s almost like it’s driverless
as it hangs there motionless.
A kite-like thing way in the air
without a string to keep it there.
How can it fly yet keep so still
and dive down to the ground at will?
A painted still-life in the sky
so quaint it makes one wonder why
it hovers out there for so long
without the bother of a song.
I’ll watch the skill of kestrel’s soar
all day long and still want more.
Its no-action’s so intense
my satisfaction is immense.
I don’t think there’s another bird
or not one that I have heard
that seems to be so determined
and keen to keep still in the wind.
All the other birds I know
are flying straight or on the go.
There’s not a bird that can compare
for staying still and hanging there.
Except perhaps for the skylark
who flaps so hard to make its mark,
and while I smile at this small speck
the kestrel makes it seem breakneck.
As I survey these birds of prey
and try to find some words to say.
What I convey must be delight
in every way about their flight.
B. Withers 2013
(in:Unfashionable rhyming verse 2014)
THE RING OF PURWELL SPRINGS.
‘A unique circle and a walk –
on sand and gravel, clay and chalk’.
The ‘Purwell’ name emerges from
the valley and the springs thereon.
It flows right to the Eastern coast,
but of its start I wish to boast.
Transport me back ten thousand years,
before the hordes of man appeared,
and in my mind, I visualise.
this place, before it’s vandalised.
There is a story here to tell,
about a huge artesian well.
Formed from glacial melt by chance,
one would not notice at first glance.
I’ve been and seen and so I have known
each spring has beauty of its own.
Just one of nature’s wondrous things,
this unique ring of Purwell springs.
Along the Roman Icknield Way,
the first spring’s from a soil of clay.
A source of drink as you can tell,
the place they came to call Cad-well.
It’s good to start my journey here,
with man’s buildings nowhere near.
A spring that still looks wild and free,
that brings its own tranquillity.
Norton Common and Norton Spring.
are just outside the Purwell Ring.
They join the ‘Ivel’ way downstream,
thus not within the Purwell theme.
Much further to the East beyond,
there is a spring at Willian pond.
One more in this vicinity,
is on the way to Wymondley.
Willian Pond is so well known,
on all the maps it’s clearly shown.
The one close by’s another thing,
a small, elusive little spring.
Within the next wood on your right,
spring’s in a lake just out of sight.
It sits in someone’s garden now,
but can be viewed if you know how.
I’m not so sure you really should,
but you can see it from the wood.
Or you can walk the other side,
because from there it does not hide.
Midway between each Wymondley,
on land right near the Priory.
Stands at the start as I recall,
here springs the furthest spring of all.
Wonderful setting, beautiful scene,
such pity that it’s rarely seen.
Is it that people do not care?
they treat it like it’s just not there.
I don’t wish to tell you fibs,
about the pond down at St. Ibbs.
The way the land and water lays,
the stream it seems to flow ‘two’ ways.
If you look close, I’m sure you can,
perceive the sluice in bridge-cum-dam.
So, when the water overflows,
towards the Hiz I think it flows.
Westerly springs are wider spread,
the next one’s found at the Wellhead.
This river flows through Hitchin Town.
to meet the main-stream further down.
Well worth the wander on this stretch,
take camera, paints or pencil sketch.
At times the stream just disappears,
keep going - ‘till it reappears.
Not to be missed it must be said,
are two springs down on Oughton Head.
Bear to the right along the lane,
where spring has sprung its aqua-vein.
Whilst walking through this beauty spot,
take time to think of what we’ve got.
Along this stream’s a worthwhile walk,
for water flows from wall and chalk.
’Snailswell’ seems a descriptive name,
a place from whence the waters came.
A few small springs can last be seen,
around about in Lower Green.
North West Purwell are springs galore,
and round Holwell there’s many more.
Small and charming, neat and posh,
wending their way through Ouse to Wash.
This trip around the ring of springs,
was meant to highlight many things.
The ancient history of this place,
its charm and beauty to embrace.
The ring of springs can demonstrate
how rain and water can filtrate
via different layers in the ground,
until through force of springs is found.
PURWELL SPRINGS is an apt name,
to illustrate this claim to fame.
So, I suggest that from now on.
we use this name sine qua non.
B. Withers 2008
(in: Contemplation 2010)
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