Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | September 17, 2008

Snow Puddles at Twilight

Crossing a bare common, in snow puddles, at twilight, under a clouded sky, without having in my thoughts any occurrence of special good fortune, I have enjoyed a perfect exhilaration. I am glad to the brink of fear. In the woods too, a man casts off his years, as the snake his slough, and at what period soever of life, is always a child. In the woods, is perpetual youth.

Emerson, Nature


  1. Yesterday, I saw a Kingfisher for the first time. I was walking across the RSPB owned Brading Marshes, a beautiful area of the Yar River Valley, very close to my home. I had been feeling very grumpy and tired – one of those awful moments when you seem to get lost in niggling worries and aggravations. Sadly, such things can act like blinkers.

    I reached the small bridge that looks over a secluded turn in the river, having mostly been caught up in my own head. There is a lot of overhang from trees on the banks, so that the course of the river becomes, at this place, like a secret, hidden by the foliage.

    As I arrived, I was aware of something moving swiftly into the over-hanging trees. Something said ‘kingfisher!’ in my head, and within seconds a stunningly beautiful blue flash zoomed across the open water and through the leaves beyond. I actually jumped up and down, I was so excited! It was such a quick sighting – seconds – and yet, with equal speed, I found myself in a magical place, fully present, all worry and tiredness gone, as if some kind of fairy dust had fallen off that little creature’s wings. It appeared like an otherwordly spirit before piercing the green veil that kept it just out of sight, somewhere in the shadow of the trees. Despite my no longer being able to see it, I knew it was there and the whole world came alive because of it.

    Emerson puts it so beautifully, doesn’t he? I never want to stop being moved by it; I can’t imagine how people could live without these moments. This is the real grief of our present predicament: the possibililty of this being lost is too awful. And yet I have to remind myself that in loving deeply this place – in acknowledging the possible loss fully – lies the chance to turn things around. I hope so – with all my being. I would like to believe that there will be many generations after me who will have the opportunity to jump up and down and clap like a five year old at the sheer wonder of it all.

  2. Yes indeed Maria! I’ve only seen a kingsfisher twice – once in New Zealand and once on the Thames. They really are wonderful to see!

  3. What a beautiful quote – and how perceptive – to be glad to the point of fear is something I can really identify with! Here’s to the forever child!!!!

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