Never lose that magical sense of wonder
VAN ‘the man’ Morrison wrote a beautiful song about a ‘Sense of Wonder’, and if ever a picture I have taken illustrates what he meant, then this little girl taking giant steps across the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland is it.
With a veritable skip in her step and a smile on her face, the Crown Jewels and half a ton of ice cream would not have prised her away from the basalt marvel.
Whereas for me, the promise of lobster, soda bread and a night on the Guinness was enough to tempt me back to the car after 20 minutes, however, I would like to think that I have retained the girl’s sense of wonder and greatly admire those adults who have managed to cling to that part of their life.
My oldest artist friend, Scottish artist Edna Whyte, who is 85, still enthuses about a series of paintings that she is planning for an exhibition in two years’ time, with never a thought for hanging up the brushes, a great example.
It is a kind of Captain Cook curiosity crossed with Gabriel Oak candour, and a dash of unsullied innocence thrown in for good measure.
Tall order for an ageing prop forward? Not on your Nelly.
David Bellamy has it, Richard Attenborough by the bucket-load and this morning I was ‘diving right in’ to my own supply, at the sight of two short-eared owls sharing their early morning field vole in front of me.
It was 7.30am, and a cool mist still hung in necklaces around the small conifer plantation as I began to climb the Holme Moss road.
A double-take saw me face-to-face with one adult owl perched on a fence post.
It was no use stopping opposite the bird, no matter how tempting, because it would just fly off, so I pulled up gently about 30 or 40 feet further on and reached for the binoculars.
Meanwhile in the wing-mirror two cars approached, but fortunately the owl was more concerned with the vole and stayed put.
So close did the binoculars take me to the owl, his yellow eyes lit up the optics, and all thoughts of work were forgotten.
Two further cars and a noisy motorcycle later saw the bird lift off towards the moor, but the show was not over, and another adult lifted from the rough tussocks in an attempt to share the short-tailed field vole which was swinging from the first bird’s undercarriage.
After a minute or two of aerial combat and the momentary interference of a passing kestrel, my morning display had lasted no more than five minutes, but the desultory flight of these longwinged, and daytime flying owls, will last a long time. They are such a striking owl, and when I lived at Crowden, a daily encounter over 28 years was the norm, I knew them and they knew me.
I am sure that sometimes, people think, ‘what is he on’? But as I sat there with my ‘usual’ bacon and tomato on toast, with white pepper, the world was once again my oyster. And just to prove the point, and bring on one more inane grin, two ravens making their kronking noise rolled down the hill as though poured from a glass.
From your many communications, readers share the aforementioned sense of wonder and that wide-eyed tadpole in the jar joy, so ‘cheers’ to you all.
The little girl on the legendary Giant’s Causeway, is a metaphor for the amazing things all around us, so, please, please, please, never stop looking.
●● A little girl taking giant steps across the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland
The Laughing Badger Gallery, 99 Platt Street, Padfield, Glossop