Monthly Archives: September 2012

“If you go down to the woods today….

….you’ll sure get a big surprise….” as the old children’s song, ‘Teddy Bears’ Picnic’, goes.

Think globally, act locally urges people to consider the health of the entire planet and to take action in their own communities and cities. Long before governments began enforcing environmental laws, individuals were coming together to protect habitats and the organisms that live within them. These efforts are referred to as grassroots efforts. They occur on a local level and are primarily run by volunteers and helpers…..” ( Wikipedia ) ….and they are surely taking great shape in our local neighbourhood, North Kelvin, Glasgow, Scotland, UK.

May 2012 saw the start of The Children’ Wood – an offshoot of the sterling efforts of the North Kelvin Meadow Campaign, for the last few years the latest in several local initiatives, whose objective over a long period of time now has been to save a patch of local waste ground for community green space use, as opposed to its hosting yet another set of newbuild flats  – in an already built up area –  if Glasgow City Council’s plan for the space goes ahead.

To find out more about the The Children’s Wood click HERE.

Meadow in the City

Meadow in the City

photo: Anne Whitaker

You will see from checking out the above site that there have been a whole series of  imaginative outdoor activities at The Children’s Wood this summer and autumn. These have captured the imagination of  parents and children alike, as well as local residents whose own children by now have grown up and moved elsewhere. More events are planned!

The most recent event, yet again organised by local mum and community activist, Emily Cutts, was terrific fun and really well attended. Sunday 23 September 2012 saw a world music premiere!

The Little House of La – the children’s version of Indie pop group House of La gave its first live performance at The Children’ Wood.Three band members were originally members of the well-known and popular Scottish Indie pop band Aberfeldy. Fortunately, one of their lively and catchy numbers, The Ape Man by The Kinks was captured on video and posted on YouTube.

View it  HERE  –   to see community action, participation – and sheer FUN!!

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NOTE: Blog/Twitter followers, community activists and enthusiasts, please do what you can to pass this post around your networks. Thanks!

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400 words copyright Emily Cutts/Anne Whitaker 2012
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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A day for spreading Sunshine!

On my Twitter biog I describe myself as a ‘Glasgow weather survivor’. With good reason. Last Thursday it was unremittingly wet all day. I even had to apply blotting paper to my eyebrows when I got home. However, good news awaited. I found that one of my blog followers, emariaenterprises, had nominated me for a Sunshine award for my most recent post “Holy Dharma with Heron”. Many thanks, emaria! Your award certainly cheered up a lousy day.

There are a few rules to follow on being nominated for a Sunshine award. I am complying – most unlike me!

1) Include the award’s logo in a post or on your blog.

2) Answer 10 questions about yourself.

3) Nominate other fabulous bloggers.

4) Link your nominees to this post and comment on their blogs, letting them know they have been nominated.

5) Share the love and link the person who nominated you.

sunshine-award-logo

sunshine-award-logo

Here are seven answers – more than enough! And you, dear Reader, have to work out what the questions are….

1. I have far too many planets in Leo. 2. Just as well they’re in the Twelfth House! 3. I was actually born in the 12th House – 12, Plantation Road – on the street in which my parents were living at that time 4. My birth was so premature and I was so tiny that I was anointed in olive oil, wrapped carefully and placed in a drawer – too small for a cot – and not expected to live. Wrong!!! 5. I have my Honourable Discharge Papers from the British Merchant Navy 6. At a time when I was utterly dismissive of astrology, an astrologer I met by accident in a launderette drew up my chart and predicted that I would become an astrologer in my early thirties. Right!!! 7. I am still asking the same question I started asking when I first opened my eyes to the world: “Why are we here?”

(answers, under a plain wrapper, to this site. Reward for most original response)

Here are six great blogs,  in no particular order, whose writers can always be relied upon to inspire, inform, move, provoke and amuse. Check them out!

http://selmainthecity.wordpress.com/ – Holding on to hard won hopefulness

http://shoreacres.wordpress.com/ – The Task at Hand: a writer’s on-going search for just the right word

http://blankieandgoatie.wordpress.com/ – Reflections on parenting….

http://prettyfeetpoptoe.com/ – It’s just my point of view. Love it or hate it.

http://mountainastrologer.com/tma/tma-this-week – Your gateway to understanding the cosmos

And last but not least, with my thanks, the blogger who nominated me:

http://emariaenterprises.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/oh-how-sweet-is-this/ – Musings on life, love, politics, and the nature of happiness

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400 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2012
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

Holy Dharma with Heron

Thanks to Linda Leinen over at Shoreacres, for providing the inspiration – via her wonderful piece on herons and poetry – for re-publishing this post. Enjoy!

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I love herons. Their elegance: long, lean, streamlined curves over water, poised, waiting. Their focus: totally in the moment, poised, waiting….to strike sharp and swift. I love their languid flight: long wings lazily beating, slow concentrated strength and grace.

We live in Glasgow, Scotland UK city with the most green space. Our flat overlooks the river Kelvin which flows through the West End’s Botanic Gardens. On the riverbank, throughout the Gardens, all kinds of wildlife abound: amongst the over-fed pigeons and importunate grey squirrels the occasional kingfisher, an otter once seen on Boxing Day, sometimes a cormorant or two – and several herons taking up favourite positions along the river bank. The fish ladder by the weir is a choice spot of theirs. Another pitch is partly concealed by vegetation, right below the Humpbacked Bridge leading to steep steps rising to the upper, more cultivated part of the Botanic Gardens.

Most days, I take a well-travelled route down from our house – crossing the Humpbacked Bridge, up the steps, through the Botanics past the newly-refurbished Kibble Palace. This splendid circular, domed Victorian glass house hosts fine sculptures, elegant glass panels, a well-stocked pond – with some very old fishy friends adept at dodging the coins and wishes raining down on them on a regular basis – and a wonderfully displayed selection of plants and flowers from many parts of the world. It is a local jewel.

Grey Heron

Grey Heron

Strolling around those familiar, well-loved landmarks, I always enjoy occasional sightings of the heron. We can never decide how many herons there are of the same age and appearance. Maybe we are seeing the same one, over and over? Conversations like this weave together a very disparate, loose group of park regulars of all ages with a variety of views and opinions about the Botanic Gardens’ wild creatures. But the heron is a favourite; we always report sightings to one another.

We are inured to plentiful rain and bad weather as the default position for our local climate; stepping out into a pleasant, crisp, sunny morning  is therefore an immediate delight, especially with the Botanics in full autumn colours, carpets of leaves everywhere – if you get out early enough, before the park attendants with their noisy leaf-blowing machines get going!

Whilst appreciating this beautiful autumnal morning, my head was also full of the usual thought traffic as I contemplated the day ahead. The Buddhists speak the truth: we are only ever partly here. In each waking moment of our short, precious lives, we are usually distracted by something or other from being fully present. Thus we rarely savour fully the Holy Dharma of this very moment which will never come again.

Suddenly, my attention was totally focused on a sight I had never seen before. The heron was perched in full view, half way along the left-hand side of the Humpbacked Bridge!

I  stopped dead. Most unusually at half past nine on a weekday morning, there was no-one in sight.  “Should I stay watching right here, or try to creep closer?” I wondered, full of excitement and apprehension. Deciding on the latter option, I tiptoed very very slowly onto the eight-foot wide bridge, veering to the right in order to edge along the opposite side of the bridge to the heron.

The wild creature seemed absorbed in his own surveillance operation, long elegant neck moving slowly from side to side, eyes glinting in the morning light reflected off the quietly flowing river. Whether he had spotted me or not, he was paying me no attention. Barely able to believe my luck, I inched along  extremely quietly until – to my great amazement – I was level. We were only a bridge width apart. Never in my life before had I been so close to such a large wild bird.

The morning was still. The heron, briefly, was still. I was still. The Holy Dharma moved with the air currents across the bridge, the heron and me. All was One.

Japanese Heron Painting

Japanese Heron Painting

Hours might have passed. It was probably less than a minute. I caught a flicker of movement out of the corner of my left eye. A slender young man dressed all in black, carrying a rucksack, i-pods in his ears, was rapidly approaching the bridge. Stealthily, I crept forward a couple of feet, heading off the bridge toward the steps, still hugging the side opposite the heron. He still didn’t budge. For a fleeting moment I thought “Anne, that wild creature is tuned to you. He can feel your goodwill….” Then the rationalist dismissed such a thought. Still….

The young man was about to step through the gate onto the bridge. I held my finger to my lips, indicating silence; with my other hand palm up,  I signalled to stop, waving him over to my side of the bridge – hoping this unknown young man might share a rare experience. But he ignored me. As he marched past us the heron took off, winging his lazy languid way downriver. Waving goodbye, I stood for a moment – partly watching the heron, partly watching the young man’s back as he tramped up the stairs.

In that moment I truly felt the force of life’s duality: on the one hand, such gratitude and joy that the heron and I had shared a pure, holy moment of Oneness. On the other, deep sadness that the young man, shut in with his technology, had missed it. Carl Jung’s comment, which comes to me often, came to me then: “Our task in this life is to reconcile the opposites”…..

….and a ps to this story….a couple of weeks later, I was strolling home through the Botanics by the river Kelvin on my way home, having spent the afternoon at my office writing the first draft of this article which was in my bag.There on the riverbank, in  places where I had never seen them before, were – to my amazement and delight – two herons….

1000 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2008/12
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page