I really like it. It looks beautiful, the colours are lush and it’s a refreshing perspective on the world. I love the idea of excellent dates engaging with Pliny’s figs and mushrooms, your thought provoking note on innocence, and the concept of the songs of men deep in the heart of grape buds.

Nicki

I don’t know when I have felt so happy

Those spectacular occasions when it all conspires in your favour, when the people, the place and the moment are perfect. And those 'black, liquid, effortless birds'!  The boat, too, 'horse-like in her strength'.Send me descriptions of such moments now and...

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Not now, but soon

One of the sweetest sounds of spring is a blossom-bursting tree humming with a hundred bees. And after the blossoms fall and the bees move to the next awakening, you just wait for the fruit to grow and fall.  Not now, but soon, with that 'somehow, some day' carrying...

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Unwritten knowledge

Our relationship with landscape fascinates me, particularly when it manifests in people who have a deep knowledge and love of a particular place, whether from an agricultural, historical, geological or other angle. This quotation is from a love letter to a landscape...

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Nothing more marvelous

A delicious dinner with friends, the table noise, also the talk noise. In our case, these are mostly at home, so we are the waiters filling the glasses and plates. The summer is coming and if it is kind, we can hold most of those dinners in the garden, accompanied by...

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Lightening hours

Isn't this a signal of perfect companionship, whether as friends, family or lovers? That hours pass like lightening? 'We started off in the direction of the village. The hours among the rocks had passed as time passes between lovers, like lightening.'   Source:...

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Treasured, threaded moments

Arundhati Roy's heart-rending novel captures moments of intense sweetness, all the more precious for their rarity. Here the two children make of them a scant necklace of joy-beads. 'Moments like these, the twins treasured and threaded like precious beads on a...

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Love that moves

These closing lines of Dante's Divine Comedy, reached after a long upward journey from the pits to Paradise, leave you floating. And what internal harmony and congruity - your wishes and your will rotating in sync with the same universe-turning wheel.   '... but...

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One last game

Having given birth to cubs, Tarka's mate goes her own way. But before they part company he calls her to play one last game at the bridge and she joins him there. I liked the timelessness of the otters' game which Williamson suggests has been played since 'before the...

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Trust in trust

Trust is easy when it's there, but hard to generate when it's gone (or never arrived in the first place).  I was curious about Ridley's assertion that a relatively high trust quotient precedes income growth, rather than the other way round. Trust, apart from from...

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Perfume of hyssop and thyme

A lovely moment remembered by George Herbert and recorded by John Aubrey. Herbert's step-father, Sir John Danvers, had a charming habit of brushing his hat on hyssop and thyme to imbue it with their perfume. As I recently planted hyssop and several additional thyme...

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The other reality

An intriguing thought, that art is the means to receive hints from another reality.  I am not sure what he means by it, but as I get older, I sense something more numinous.  And I like the idea of art as a kind of antenna - it was Ezra Pound who described poets as the...

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Green power

No, not wind turbines, nor solar panels. This is the green power that raises 'purple spires to the midsummer sky'. Foxglove power or, quoting Dylan Thomas, 'the force that through the green fuse drives the flower'.  I planted a few foxgloves recently and they grew...

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A scholar’s garden

Pliny the Younger is a delightful correspondent when he isn't berating you for not having been in touch. His letters have an immediacy and freshness which makes me regret he isn't around for me to write to. Here he ponders how much land is adequate for the scholarly...

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What’s the point?

The eternal question. We can't know what the point is, nor even if there is one.  But in so far as we may need to believe that there is a point to it all, I liked the response given by the writer Philip Pullman: more consciousness, by whatever creative or benign route...

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Staying alive, being alive

I notice more and more things. Recently saw a tiny new wildflower appear on our laissez-faire lawn. A new wild creeping thyme creeping in a new spot. A new pale blue butterfly I've never seen before. A new hedgehog ambling across the garden at the same time as the one...

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To the bar and back

This wonderful anecdote by the Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer describes a beloved uncle who would take him to the bar for a drink. Before leaving, he would randomly select three of his eleven dogs to accompany them. This seems to have been perceived as a treat by...

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The bees’ feet

Two zooming micro-miracles singing the arrival of summer - bees' feet shaking heather bells and the 'sap-stealing dodder' twining around furze spikes.   'When the bees' feet shake the bells of the heather, and the ruddy strings of the sap-stealing dodder are...

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The high Greek sky

Not the first time I have seen or read of the soaring 'limitless Greek sky'.  It has something vaultingly, deeply, coolingly hyacinthine blue about it, making things seem clean, clear and uncluttered. You can stretch your spirit and limbs lying somewhere staring up at...

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A Samaritan at Salisbury

This account of the 17th century English clergyman and poet, George Herbert, stopping on his way to help a poor man, gives us an insight into his character. His friends asked him why he would sully himself to lend a hand and his answer has the lyricism which imbues...

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The nature of wonder

This caught my eye, a surprising definition of wonder, presented as 'broken knowledge'. I wondered if that meant 'incomplete' knowledge, the awe that comes of observing without understanding, but the scientist Richard Dawkins has pointed out that understanding the...

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A thought on childhood

According to his biographer John Drury, the English poet George Herbert 'thought that it was better being a child than an adult', perhaps confirmed by the simple closing line to his poem 'Holy Baptism (II)', comprising three diamond-shaped verses of five lines rhymed...

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My kind of civilization

You can spend a lot of time thinking about civilization and whether it has a future, but defining it isn't so straightforward.  Or is it? This definition works for me, particularly on a hot summer's day in a piazza in Italy. Or anywhere.Favourite flavours - deepest,...

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Pushing the boundaries

Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal, puts our relatively short-termist parochialism in stark contrast to that of our forebears, who despite multiple constraints of which we are free, were able to conceive and implement long term projects which they wouldn't see...

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Happiness is …

This is a sweeping definition of happiness and particularly touching given it was uttered by a science teacher in Odessa. Pavel Viktor began posting his lectures online so students who missed them could catch up. But his teaching style was so inspiring that he ended...

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Play time by the brook

One of the delights of observing birds and animals is to see them apparently at play. Williamson's slim, taut and charming classic on otters gives many examples of them playing. Here I liked Tarka's trying to catch and bite a rope of water twist-tumbling out of a...

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New, new, new

Something wonderfully simple in these closing lines of Dante's Purgatory, which open up a new and dazzling vista. You know he will next embark on his journey up and into Paradise. The cadence is also of someone confidently stepping out into a new phase of life, with...

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Fruit and more

This line from a George Herbert poem bespeaks a sense of abundance and satiety - the wine is made of grapes, so you don't need them besides.  Herbert collected nearly two thousand aphorisms and they echo in his poetry.   'But can he want the grape, who hath the...

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Joyeuse Fête des Muguets

Two things to share today, both lily-related.  I first heard of the 'Fête des muguets' when I was a teenager and was given a bunch of lilies of the valley. Yesterday in Geneva I was happy to see the shops stocked up with slender, small pots and bunches of these...

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Living in the moment

Keats is one of the Great Nuannaarpoqians. He grew up with sorrow, first nursing his mother through tuberculosis and, a few years later, his younger brother, before then succumbing himself. These and other travails did nothing to curb his capacity to grasp moments of...

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How to be gentle

This is a striking comment, that lack of gentleness may stem from having been shocked into fear at some point. How many 'loud and aggressive persons' might have been otherwise had they not been confronted by an enemy of some sort, something propelling them into fear?...

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When we think of joyful things

Remember, if you can, a moment when you have been speaking with someone and you land on something about which they are passionate, and you see their face light up and their eyes sparkle. I can think of several such moments, but one which stands out was a couple of...

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Blue-bells in spring

Blue-bells, more even than roses, are the flower I associate with England. There is magic in walking under a woodland canopy among the delicate blue bobbing bells as they carpet the ground for weeks. When I grew up, holidays were spent with my grandmother at her...

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Lent lilies and swallows’ time

A delicious description of the days of mid-April, when the wild narcissus, known as 'lent lilies', bloom. We've had daffodils and tiny narcissi sunnying the garden for weeks, visited by early-buzzing bees.Williamson's account includes the intriguing mention of house...

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To rejoice the heart

A pretty good list of joy-triggers: clear laughter, kind words and tasty dishes. What else? Tell me three more, or one, or two. And what a comment on Zorba, that his return meant the return of all the things that rejoice the heart. There can hardly be a greater...

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Because they dreamed of this place

I like that Dante's promised land mentions 'human innocence' alongside nectar in everything and spring eternal. Innocence doesn't receive much air time, but to me it could be listed among 'human rights'. When I was growing up it was a put down comment, as if...

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Uncharted coexistence

Don't worry, this isn't about Brexit. Rather, a TED talk by Eileen Crist on 'confronting anthropocentrism' which considers the need to change our engagement with the world if we are to make it to the ever elusive sustainability. However, unlike much of the discourse...

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