Here’s 2013 in 13 sentences with 13 photos I’ve taken during the course of the year. I don’t know if it’s true that I spent more time in and around Falmouth than previous years, but it’s felt like it, so I’ve chosen to present a retrospective that reflects that. That’s not to say I didn’t go anywhere else or do anything outside of Falmouth and Cornwall, but I thought it would be appropriate to mark the passing of time focusing on the place I invested the most time in. If you click on the first image you can read alongside the pictures as you scroll through them if you prefer.
It began with rain.
After a brief spell housebound and wiping the mould off the inside of the wall I discovered that winter walking whatever the weather was an unacknowledged joy.
I found a wholesome, brown-bread, good-heartedness from the fallen leaves and mud and blood pumping through my veins that was as uplifting as finding the first patch of snowdrops among the treeroots.
Then in March the winds veered easterly and cold and I got my big green coat down from its peg where it had sat all winter, whilst at work in my new job I was given my pick of light spring clothes to wear against the hibernal chill.
The bluebells were late this year.
And the wildflowers that I’d obsessively observed and identified before the end of March last year held off their tangled millefleur tapestry until it should by all accounts have been nearly summer.
June became July then suddenly I was having dinner on the beach and paddling through an incoming tide as balmy as bathwater, getting a salt line on my sundress and barely needing a cardigan even after sundown as the ground released its heat like summer night storage heaters.
I discovered I was learning my way into the local landscape in such a way that I could almost tell the weather by the colour of the sea, and the creep of the seasons by the colour of the flowers.
And then the tourists came, and the parents came, and the weather was as I remember it the first August I saw Cornwall: blue summer that glints jewel-like in the sun; but to my adjusted eyes tired, drained and dried after the fresh colours, new growth and blossoms of early summer.
I enjoyed it though, the best summer for six years, forgiving it for giving way, somewhat predictably, to an overcast September that stayed warm but drew in the damp and the mists.
Though I missed the ‘mellow fruitfulness’ as it had mostly peaked too soon in the August heat and blackberries bloated to mush with the onset of Autumn.
So I got my wellies back out, now permanently ingrained with mud and salt.
And by the time December had sped by again – as always too-fast-too-busy a four-week whirl of baking and PVA and glitter and wondering how many times it’s appropriate to buy my sister-in-law a scarf as a present – everybody but myself it seemed was surprised to be skirting weather disasters in order to make it home for Christmas and back again to work two days later before the rails and roads were underwater and storm gave way to storm and another year blew in on a downpour.
My favourite turning-of-the-year poem is ‘Life Cycle’ by Dennis O’Driscoll (in memory of George Mackay Brown). There’s a copy of it online here or it can be found in his New Selected Poems (2004) published by Anvil Press.
I really love looking at pictures of the weather and seasons (as well as taking them) and the BBC Weather website always host galleries of images sent in by the people all over the country. It’s well worth a look any time but if you want to see dramatic stormscapes click here now http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/feeds/25591263
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Shadowlands & Reflections inspired by Caught by the River’s annual Shadows and Reflections retrospective series I gave 2012 the same treatment and was surprised to discover I’d inadevertantly covered quite a bit of ‘Narnia’ – or the British equivalent – on my travels.