Spot of Gold

I promised to show you who the caterpillar was and here it is unexpectedly flying around my bathroom last night.

My hitchhiking friend turned out to be a double spot of gold moth, who is unusual for this area, but that might just be because it is under recorded, as it usually flies in October/November.

Chrysodeixis chalcites

So here is my Christmas spot of gold . Have a jolly day tomorrow or today depending on when your festive day may be!


Winter music

When the thaw comes there is wonderful strange music.

First a single drip from the snow on the bird table lands soft in the thick white and the sound is absorbed . Then the ice on the roof starts to move. It clatters down the slates like a dislodged tile. Then a great slab of snow skitters down and lands with a terrifying crash on the back step, nearly burying the cat.

The melt water from a corrugated roof falls in marvellous intervals into the gutter, a xylophone of notes . A spout of quickly thawing snow shoots down in a noisy spear of liberated sound. Now a gamelan of melting snow plays out and the leaves that hung on to the trees through the storm, hiss down to the slushy snow below.

The sun is abruptly covered by a cloud. The temperature falls just a little, the drip slows, stutters and stops. It is oddly quiet again. The music is over until the next sun up.

Tomorrow is the day after the winter solstice. The day will be imperceptibly longer than today.

There will be more time to listen to the wonderful, weird music of thaw!


The seasons have been used as metaphor for human life since the first baby was born in springtime.

It is less obvious that places themselves seem to age with the season’s progression.

Winter is the last season, it is old age and the world seems dead, but of course it is not and nature is just waiting for the spring : for the cycle of life to renew and for life to return.

In spring everything can seem blushingly bare, awkward and gangly like an adolescent; in summer it is noisy and confident; in autumn it is blowsy, brash and colour splashed, but in winter, in real winter, when the snow falls, the street and the field and the very sky seem to belong to another century all together.

The traffic stops, the streets empty, the sky is heavy with feathers floating down.

People move only when they have to and the birds pushing through the white air make the sound of wings . The white roofs are Bruegel and the woodsmoke is from twisted chimneys.

The world seems ancient when it snows. It seems infolded and safe.

In a white winter, the creases are smoothed out and a wise unblemished face is turned up to a beautiful blank sky.

In from the cold.

It has taken a long time to turn cold here and real frosts have only just begun.

My pretty little acer tree has been flaming for weeks in the drizzle, but the real winter has extinguished it at last. I picked up the final fallen leaf from the ground like a still glowing ember.

The dahlias and gladioli are safely dug up and stored in the basement and the scented geraniums are bulging on the spare room window sill.

When cleaning between the pots, I spotted some tell tale black frass on the window sill. The tiny black spheres were the frass of a caterpillar that has smuggled its way into the warm of the house.

We managed to find it, well camouflaged amongst the munched green leaves and I am hoping it may grow into a hawk moth caterpillar of some description. Hawk moths caterpillars have wonderful markings and spikes on their tails. The adult moth could be a thing of astonishing beauty: a humming bird, eyed, or even an elephant’s head hawk moth; but dreams of gorgeously patterned moth wings are still months away.

Until then I have to wait with the lucky caterpillar, in the warm back room, for the seasons to slowly change.

Eyed Hawk moth

A poem for the nurses.

This Is You, You’re Looking at You

by Michael Rosen

This is you.
You’re looking at you.

Look closely.

Listen to the breathing.
Is it calm?
Or is there a bit of a gasp
or a snatch in there?

What about the walk?
Watch the walk.
In control, is it?
The feet roll from heel to toe
do they?

What next?
How about the eyes?
Look closely at the eyes.
Eyes tell you a lot.
The skin round the eyes.
Is it tight?
More on one side than the other?
And is that a frown?
Is it always there
or can it smooth out?

This is you.
You’re looking at you.

Now what comes next is harder.
See if you can notice any part of you
that’s tight, taut,
a part you that you’re holding
tighter and tauter
than it should be
and you don’t know why:
a shoulder maybe
one side of your neck?
Is there any way that can be looser?

This is you
You’re looking at you.

Now this is difficult.
We’re going in.
What about sleep?
Do you sleep through the night?
Or do you lie awake in the middle of the night
and you don’t know why?
What do you think about?
Does the day before
come in and sit there keeping you awake?
Does tomorrow
come in and sit there keeping you awake?
Have you ever talked to someone
about what keeps you awake?
You could, you know.
Sometimes, talking about it
scares off the things that keep you awake.

This is you
You’re looking at you.

Are there things you could do
which would look after you?
Places you could go
People you could see
Shows you could watch
Things you could do.
What are they?
Shut your eyes.
Imagine you’re doing them.
Imagine you’re doing them.
Imagine you’re doing them.

Have you ever tried ways
of expressing what you feel?
What would you draw?
What would you write?
How would you move?
Imagine you’re doing them.
Imagine you’re doing them.
Imagine you’re doing them.

And you know why I’m asking you
to ask yourself all these questions
don’t you?
It’s for that old, old reason:
if you don’t look after you
you can’t look after others.

This is you.
You’re looking at you.

This poem was written by Micheal Rosen, a renowned author who nearly died of Covid in England. He was looked after, as he struggled for life, by NHS nurses and he became acutely aware of the toll the pandemic took on those nurses.

This is such a glancing, compassionate and painful poem and I think it speaks to all the nurses everywhere who kept so many people alive in such awful times that we all just want to forget.