I’ve been both a town and a country mouse. One thing that stands out for me as I revert to country mouse status is how oblivious I’ve been to natural change when living in towns and cities.
It’s been partly due to my occupations in these places, of course, that I have noticed things so differently. When rushing to work in town or city, you may indeed notice the seasons change, but the micro changes so often pass you by.
Everything at Seaview conspires to remind us that the old Greek adage from Heraclitus πάντα ῥεῖ (everything flows) is true. Life here is constant flux.
The sun and the moon show this as well as anything. These photographs of a wintry sunrise on the solstice last year (December 21st) were all taken in the matter of minutes as the sun rose to the west of Bamburgh Castle. First a tiny hint that something was coming …Then a bit more …And as the sun continues to rise, it appears to swivel to the right …Now you can see clearly the orb approaching …Likewise the moon, here captured on the night of the Supermoon last month, (14th November) …Through the early evening, the moon moved rapidly across the sky, in and out of the clouds. But there were other changes afoot too – man-made changes. In the blink of an eye, a train slipped across our line of sight, travelling down the mainline East Coast railway line …Cloud banks constantlychange, sweeping across the huge Northumbrian skies in a fascinating variety of patterns …Rainbows shimmer for a moment (here over Holy Island) – and then pass on …Sometimes the moment appears to linger. This foggy sunrise last winter seemed trapped in a cold still world …But the lingering is always an illusion, usually fostered by the light on cold days, as captured in this picture of Berwick, golden in the setting sun …You’ve got to be quick to catch the birds sweeping through our skylines too. Starlings over the neighbouring houses …Crowds of seagulls following the plough …Or this solitary bird caught in a recent sunrise …Unremarkable hungry black birds, looking extraordinary in black and white …And our very favourites, the little sanderlings (who only visit this area in the winter), running in and out of the waterline on the Tweed …Just occasionally we manage to capture the boats coming into the Tweed – not often. Entry is difficult, limited by the tides, and so dodgy (because the channel is very narrow) that only the local pilots are allowed to navigate these boats to the Tweed Dock. Magical to see them rushing past Berwick’s old lighthouse …Tides – ah, yes, tides. Nothing, of course, demonstrates the inevitability and variety of natural change like the tides.
“Twice daily the tides are here, sometimes
breenging shoreward like an army
of small, mad, angry locals,
at others, creeping in on tourist feet.
They are their own beginnings & endings …”
from At Douglas Hall by Stuart A Patterson (a Borders poet)
A couple of weeks ago, I decided to record these changes by photographing the Tweed Estuary from our lane throughout the day. In all these pictures, you should be able to make out the wide panorama, stretching from Berwick’s old lighthouse on the far right to Berwick’s Royal Border Bridge on the left of the picture. These pictures start at 9.21 am with very low tide, and the sands of Spittal Point stretching out almost down to the lighthouse …An hour later (10.22 am), the sun has come out, there’s a van coming down the lane, and the sands of Spittal Point are succumbing to the incoming tide …By 11.26 am, the sky is really blue, there are some gorgeous light clouds mirroring the line of the pier, and only a few islands of sand are still uncovered by the tide …12.20, and the sky is far less exciting, the sun has gone in, there are still a few very small islands of sand in the Tweed – and there’s a train running up the East Coast mainline, Berwick bound, I think …13.17, and rather a dull picture of high tide and no sun …An hour later (14.20 pm), and shafts of low wintry sun are running over the picture from the left (the west) as another train is captured on the Eastcoast railway line. It is very high tide …By 15.17 pm the light is beginning to go, but an odd flash of blue sky is revealed in the dying light. The tide is on the turn …And the last picture of daylight, taken at 16.15 pm, the sky and sea are delicately rose-pink from the rays of the setting sun in the west. The tide is still only a very little way out …How uplifting – in a year when the world has seen such radical and disturbing global changes – are these ephemeral sudden shafts of light …