The Crystal Palace
Palace of the wilderness,
such marvel to behold,
enraptured by the elegance
of this beacon in the cold;
Children of the midnight sun
to whom hope forever clings,
abandoned here in fractal time
on flightless, palsied wings.
Amidst this frosty wilderness we came upon a palace of ruined spires and sunken domes – crystalline in form. It refracted the dim winter sunlight through its thousand prisms, glimmering like a piece of heaven fallen from the sky. I wondered what god had left his presence here, amidst this cruel landscape – what monarch we would find worthy of its mighty semblance? We entered cautiously into this building’s mystique like trespassers through the corridors of Valhalla. We wandered through endless chambers of crystal ice, accosted only by emptiness. I could only imagine what had left this place a shell of its once great existence. Perhaps the blurred world outside – which remained always visible through fragmented and transparent walls – had long since crept into this broken building. With each corner we turned, the contorted light pouring in on us held my loved one in new awe, and in her humility I saw a newfound beauty…and wonder that felt no shame.
(c) Darren Hawbrook
The Snow Kingdom
Peaks of ice-capped mountains
in the distance slowly climb,
long ago the winter came,
gripped this land for all of time.
Frozen wastelands bordered by
an endless sea of ice,
Serene, bewitching, guileless climes
beneath cold-blooded skies.
It feels like I’ve been neglecting my blog a bit lately, but other things have started to take precedence. That’s the problem for me – the creative muscle is stronger than the other components that go into being a writer: new ideas overtake older ones before they are finished.
Still, I haven’t forgotten what inspired me to start the blog in the first place (the clue is in the title), and I have no intention of letting it slip by the wayside. For one thing, I’d miss the interaction with other bloggers, many of whom have inspired me to publish my own work on these pages.
So what’s that got to do with the title of this post?
Courtesy of National Geographic
For me, creativity comes from the world around us. We touch it; hear it; see it in all it’s wonderful colour and vibrancy – the everchanging multiplicities that make up the tapestry of our most daring and imaginative thoughts.
With Halloween just passed and long dark nights upon us, it’s a time of year that really whets the appetite for things macabre and frightening.
Autumn is the season of long shadows and withering sunsets, grey days and sullen skies; a time to hunker down indoors, out of the cold, and allow the machinations of our mind to rattle at the windows like an ill wind.
So why is it that we like to be scared? Continue reading
It was nine years ago today that Timothy Treadwell died in the wilds of Alaska, killed by an unbridled passion for the wilderness, and in particular, the animal he had dedicated his life to protect. You may or may not be aware of the story of Timothy Treadwell. Indeed, you may have seen Werner Herzog’s excellent documentary, Grizzly Man, and still been left wondering what kind of person Timothy was. If you haven’t, I highly recommend seeing it.
I watched an excellent Horizon documentary on the BBC last night: Eat, Fast and Live Longer.
The program tried to discover how eating habits might affect the ageing process, documenting a 101 year-old marathon runner (who has only ever eaten kiddie-size portions); the CRONie approach (calorie restriction on optimal nutrition); three-day fasting, and – more interestingly – alternate day fasting.
Early research shows there are benefits to alternate day fasting. In trials it has been shown to decrease cholesterol and triglyceride levels, factors that increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes and age-related disease. Okay, that’s it for the science bit!
Anyway, I decided to give it a go… starting today! The idea is that you have one meal on your fast day, around lunchtime. And that’s it! On your off day, you can eat what you like. It’s that simple.
Now, I don’t consider myself to be overweight. Yeah, I’ve got some love handles, but who doesn’t?
Clearly not this guy!
Just for the record, this is not me!
I suppose we all have one, and even if it’s not written down on an official list it resides up there in grey matter, buffeted by a multitude of daily chores, soap-opera plots and countless other bits of mundane information, like this: there is approximately one chicken for every human being in the world. Which begs the question – whose have I been eating all this time?
Anyway, I’ve decided to write my bucket list down in this post, perhaps in the hope that by doing so it will provide an incentive to push myself harder to get to some of these places.
The first book I remember that truly inspired me was Readers Digest: Our Magnificent Wildlife. It presented a world of splendour and mystique, of a secrecy that man rarely glimpses. In later years I came across Jim fowler’s Wildest Places on Earth in a publishers clearance store. Continue reading
I don’t profess to be an expert in astronomy. Indeed, last night was my first serious attempt at stargazing – or should I say planet gazing. My curiosity was piqued by the roll call of experts plonked on to TV sofas of every shape, size and colour – you see, the planets are aligned in such a way that five are visible all at once. And so, with my iPad at the ready, I ventured into that void I call my backyard and cast my gaze to the heavens to see what the fuss was about. And there they were: Jupiter and Venus side by side; Mars glimmering red, even to the naked eye. Unfortunately, I struck out with Mercury and Uranus, their trajectories taking them too close to the setting sun for a novice to pinpoint. Still, three out of five ain’t bad.
To see other planets through a pair of binoculars was a strangely satisfying experience. And it got me thinking. We humans are not quite as important as we like to believe. Beyond the outer limits of our atmosphere, we barely register on a universal scale. Yes, we’ve made it to the moon (presuming you don’t buy into the conspiracy theories), and sent probes into deep space – which is probably not all that deep when you think about it – but what do we truly know about the cosmos?