For Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge this week, we are looking at the ground. I often find the ground quite interesting because it is full of history.
The first image I’ve chosen shows an example of the Concretionary Magnesian Limestone on our North East England coastline. If you’re a geologist, you’ll certainly have heard of this well-known rock formation. The rocks were formed during the Permian period, over 250 million years ago, after rising sea levels flooded the adjacent sand dunes. The UK was still part of a large landmass at that time and lay just north of the equator. I always find it fascinating that we can just look down at the ground and look back so far into pre-history.
Another aspect of this particular spot that always strikes me as we walk across it, is the contrasts in texture. The sand is smooth, soft and usually cool, as the rising tide is normally casting its white foamy fingers across it. The Concretionary Magnesian Limestone is, by contrast, very rough. It really does look like concrete, with lumps of stone set into it, created entirely by the forces of Nature without any human help.
My second image is of the old road that runs through our woods. It still retains its old surface of local sandstone gravel, though some parts have been reinforced with newer limestone. Unsurprisingly, this road is known as the Stoney Road and a hundred years ago was the main road linking our village to a neighbouring one. We often walk along the old road when we go into the woods, to see the carpets of bluebells in Spring or the carpets of leaves in Autumn but it is also a cool green tunnel in high Summer. I’m sure this old road would have many tales to tell, if only the ground could talk!
We certainly experience lots of weather up here on our hillside overlooking the valley. Fascinating cloudscapes are a regular feature of our landscape. I love cloud-watching – I could watch them for hours. Big fluffy cumulus clouds often fill our Summer skies. I loved the light and shadow patterns falling on this cloudscape from the evening sun as the clouds sailed off over the woods. We sometimes spot dragons or dogs or mice chasing through the cumulus as it coasts across the sky. One day last Summer, an elderly neighbour pointed out a peacock with its tail feathers streaming out behind. It’s amazing what we can find in the clouds.
The low Winter sun is behind me in this photo, shining across the snow-covered meadow and up to the houses on the hill. I love the way the sun catches the undulations in the soft foreground snow – it reminds me of warmer days on sunny beaches.
We often complain about rain here in England, but a rainy day Springtime walk through the woods to the river is an absolute joy to the senses. The delicious earthy smell of wet woods combines with the sweet scents of rising sap and trees in flower. The rain awakens the river from its sleepy state and stirs it into urgent action. I love to watch the patterns in the swirling water and here the falling raindrops add their own perfect circles on the surface of the river.
Mist lends an air of mystery to our everyday landscapes. Our regular walk through the beechwood looks so different when the woods are cloaked in mist. I also find, with our view being shortened, it makes us focus more on those things close at hand that we can still see clearly, so sometimes we spot things we might otherwise have missed. We gaze into the murky distance and our imaginations create all kinds of imaginary shapes that vanish into the mist when we walk nearer. Misty day walks can be creatively inspiring, stirring ideas that lurk shrouded in mist in our mind’s eye.
“What is beautiful to you?” is the theme of Cee’s Black and White Challenge this week. There were probably so many things I could have chosen, but I decided to choose two of the landscapes that provide us with endless pleasure through the year’s seasonal cycle. The first photo is our beautiful, everyday view to the North Pennine moors, and the second is a regular rambling haunt that we love so much, down by the river. Whether we walk uphill or down – we are always certain of a beautiful view.