There aren’t many more exciting things than baby’s firsts. First words or signs because you realise they have new ways of communicating with you. First teeth, as it opens up new culinary possibilities, and means teething and the pain that goes with it is closer to ending.
This week we had first steps, something I thought I would miss as she is at nursery three days a week now. She’s been standing for a while, but hadn’t dared move from this stance without holding on to either us or the furniture. All of a sudden she gave me a cheeky look and staggered across the living room floor to me. She looked as proud as I felt.
It’s amazing that those first few tentative steps echo the wobbly stance of a new born calf or fawn, but over a year after birth, rather than mere minutes. We humans drag out the growing up process, and I’m incredibly grateful for that. We get to enjoy each stage… one careful step at a time.
See the hole right through the middle? That’s what makes this a witchstone, or hagstone. Traditionally associated with magic, they are used as protection from various evils, including to protect sailors from drowning.
The hole is formed by the ocean and the particles therein abrading the stone until the weakest points give way, presenting the holes that our ancestors and now us perceive as magical. For me, it’s a symbol of the power of nature; its relentless inevitability. A reminder to respect the forces around us.
Look through the hole of a hagstone and you may notice the view of the world is a little different than you expected. The hole can be a portal to another world; a world where a different decision was made, or where a path was never walked. A glimpse of what might have been, or what may still be depending on the next steps you take.
I found this one as I walked along Hornsea beach thinking about the goddesses of the ocean. I had already found a beautiful stone, flecked with tiny plant fossils. I was expressing my gratitude, when I spied this piece of flint that the ocean had drilled right through. I’ve always loved flint; practical, beautiful… and oozing history. I picked it up, thanked the ocean and carried on my way, feeling especially lucky. Perhaps the effect of the witchstone starting already…
Strange nostalgia for the sea
Of coal dust and coziness
While I walk on the beach
Houses behind me
The boy pulls my arm
Look at this bubble!
He cries, and sighs
It sits, unharmed, on the rainy tarmac
Wet and round and glossy
A perfect hemisphere
A ghostly fried egg imitator
A final resting place
With no predicted pop.
It flew, for sure, it flew with friends
Around the stage we haunt
And shop fronts
Hotdog candy floss popcorn dream
They flew together
Then one by one
Pop, pop, pop
Yet this one hung on
Though its time to fly
Lonely bubble lies
On the greasy tarmac
We watched for a while,
Puzzled and oddly sorrowful
Until something else delightful
Caught my baby’s eye.
It’s nearly Yule and what better way to enjoy this indulgent season than with some delicious choccies? Apperley Bridge Marina hosted its first chocolate tasting event last night. We arrived under a frosty half moon with the boats glistening in still and cold water. The place was done out beautifully, with Christmas decorations, candles in cups of coffee beans and a delightful handmade light box church.
The chocolates themselves were elegantly displayed on cake stands. Flavours ranged from three different types of Baileys to rhubarb and ginger gin and a whole gamut of tastes in between. I particularly enjoyed the creme de menthe! Vicky, the chocolatier, has created some genuine sweet treats and they are much in demand over the festive period. I purchased some of the Bailey’s Luxe milk chocolates for my knee half. They’re hidden in the back of the fridge now!
At £5 for entry, a hot drink and a taste of every chocolate, this was a really good value event and yet another reason Marina View Coffee Shop is one of our favourite places. If you fancy trying some of Vicky’s hand made chocolates, give them a shout on 07706046753. The coffee shop is also on Facebook and Instagram.
I often find myself distracted in the kitchen. I’m supposed to be jamming. Making jam, not music. But the pigeons coo, the great tits see-saw whistle, the blue tits chatter and the wrens scold, their huge voices belying their tiny bodies.
My feelings war between this scolding, this feeling that I ‘should’ be busy, and the delight of my avian company. Particularly during this holiday period, we are pressured to be busy, doing, making, buying; pleasing. Sometimes I just want to please myself. To sing, to speak Spanish, to read, to shout at the radio, to cuddle the cats and children.
Oh, I do love making jam, but it’s become a chore for now. Now the birds call to me. I can’t help but listen.
Sometimes the tea is
Heavy, dense; peculiar.
Why did it go cold?
I’m frying things in butter
Oil in cupboard, with the clutter
Bottling rainwater from buckets
Standing guard until it chucks it
Down and how I check the weather
Smell of air and pinch of leather
Pine cone shrinking, mercury rising
Direct sun and cloud apprising
As if I can tell them what to do.
But I write this on my smartphone
Fruit of youth no Celtic bygone
And I check notifications
For my next purification
Crystal Jilly posts on Facebook
Love and joy, kindness and luck
And when the butter burns and smokes
Electric fan extracts while we tell jokes
About politics, science, art
Passions of the head and heart
Those ways, new ways, that show us
What to do.
This poem was written for Sue Dudley, one of the winners of a competition during the Pagan Federation Beltane Online Festival. Sue was happy for me to share the poem that she inspired. I just never got around to it until now! I am very disorganised… Sue gave me some ideas and told me a little about her life, and this is the poem that resulted from that. Thanks Sue, you were a great muse.
Of all the steps we take
The first step is the hardest
And I’ve taken mine
I’ve crossed the line
Into wonders wyrd and wild.
The dog, the man and I
Moving closer to the green
With fruit so sweet
And veg, and meat,
From our hills, ours hands; our lands.
A life of magic calls
The world laid out before me
While passions burn
Beneath the Lord and Lady’s gaze.
My wishes manifesting,
Under Welsh skies, blue and grey
A far cry from the concrete maze.
My journey starts anew,
Walking with my ancestors, so proud
A path so new
But cutting through
The fog of all that went before.
A laugh within my soul
Which leaps, and reaches for the sky
My gods look on
And watch upon
My world; my change; my chance;
See my spirit soar.