Sunday, 26 June 2022

Sit still, and they will come to you... Sue Purkiss

 I live on a hill in Somerset - one of the Mendips - and often walk our dog there. I tend to amble along slowly, throwing the ball for Nessie (because after all, tht is the entire purpose of a walk), and gazing round, taking in what's going on - what's changed, what's appeared - and taking the occasional photograph.

Thistles, which bees and everything else seem to love.

At the moment, the limestone hill is covered in a thick profusion of all kinds of wild flowers. I used to think that spring, with its bluebells, cowslips, and early pink orchids, was the best time - and it is very special, coming as it does after a long, dull winter; but spring looks positively sparse compared with what's going on now. There are yellow rock roses, pink centaury, yellow and amber bird's foot trefoil, purple thistles, large white daisies, bright mauve thyme, and many others whose names I do not know - plus many different kinds of flowering grasses with their delicately etched heads that droop and sway in the breeze. Looking up from the ground, there are pink and white wild roses and blackberry blossoms.

And because there are all these flowers, there are also masses of insects and butterflies, particularly when it's sunny, as it has been over the past few days. I'm not at all good on the names of moths and butterflies. Last week, I noticed lots of little chocolate coloured butterflies darting around among the grasses, and wondered what they were. It was impossible to get a photo - very inconsiderately, they just wouldn't stay still, and I only had my phone. I do have a camera with a reasonable zoom, but it's so fiddly to focus that by the time I've sorted it out, even if a butterfly had settled, it would be long gone before I managed to get a picture.

More in hope than expectation, I put a picture of the flowers on Instagram and asked if anyone knew what my chocolate butterflies might be. There's someone on there called the Early Birder, who takes truly beautiful photographs and can identify just about anything - but even he said regretfully that without a picture, there was no chance.

Hm, I thought. Perhaps a video? The other day, I went up again. This time, the chocolate ones were joined by masses of medium sized white ones, with beautiful black marbled markings (am tentatively guessing Marbled Whites?) They were even worse for never settling. I have a video, but all it shows is a small white speck flitting happily through the grasses, moving further and further away.

As I walked on, I puzzled as to how I could get this elusive picture. And then I remembered something my husband had told me a few days before. He's a keen birdwatcher, and volnteers for the RSPB on a reserve on the Somerset Levels, where he's got to know a friend, John, who practically lives down there, is incredibly knowledgeable, and takes wonderful pictures of birds. John doesn't spend hours walking round the reserve. He stays put: he stays still. "Sit still," he says, "and they will come to you."

So I think that's what I need to do. Go up on the hill, sit still, wait for the butterflies to come - and just watch them.

And that thought led to another one. My writing - of books, I mean - has pretty much stalled at the moment. There are a number of reasons for this. I can't do very much about most of them, and I know all too well that there are many things which are infinitely more important than whether I write another book or not. But all the same, I hate it when I'm not writing. I try not to think about it too much, but it's an itch I can't scratch, a stone I keep stubbing my toe on.

There are all sorts of things you can do to try and kickstart your writing, I know that. People have written about them recently on this blog, and come up with some really useful strategies.

But maybe sometimes, you just have to sit still and be quiet. And hope the ideas will come to you, fluttering through the long grass, beautiful but elusive.

Well, it's a thought. I'll keep you posted.

NB - I have a blog, A Fool on a Hill, where I post book reviews and some of the occasional thoughts I get while ambling about on - yes - the hill. It would be lovely if you felt like popping in from time to time.


Anonymous said...

Love the idea of just being still. Have a problem with that, simply because it's an alien concept. Hope you are successful, Sue.

Joan Lennon said...

Wise words and lovely photos - thanks, Sue!

Susan Price said...

I know exactly what you mean about 'the itch you can't scratch.' And being still until the butterfly -- or bird -- or idea -- comes to you is so true.

Lynne Benton said...

How very true, Sue! The itch you can't scratch - hope the sitting still helps!

Rowena House said...

Exactly that! Waiting patiently is a joy of nature watching. Hopefully words will be as obliging.

Sue Purkiss said...

Thanks, all!Am getting better at 'capturing' butterflies - I got two quite good pictures yesterday - so hope the words will follow!