Everything looks green and golden in this early, private light filtering through the branches. It touches the fingered ice on the burn, the crusted snow among the grass, rests on the snowdrops bent over by the heavy cold, and comes finally to the little wood-and-chain swing hanging quietly over the burn, and then – gently luminous – to myself.

Lumen, from Latin for light:
the space inside a biological structure, an artery or cell;
a measure of the total amount of visible light emitted from a source;
an opening through which light can penetrate, through which day comes.

Lumen: light in this channel of the valley, light in this channel of the glen.

Strathendrick, Stirlingshire, Scotland
11th February 2013

nothing else

In Eastern Canada winter descends from the skies upon the land and holds it fast in freezing sheets of snow and ice sheared by bitter winds. Here it’s less extreme and is more as if the earth itself is pulling in, letting its foliage wither and dwindle while it gradually gathers in its strength.

Now, January, wet and sodden, it has fully drawn into itself, become cold, enclosed, turned inward, leaving only the sun to face us. Leaving only the sun, from distance, to show –

The earth is beautiful like this and I say ‘earth’ because in this winter we are clearly aware of earth, bare earth – dear earth! – stripped of worldliness. We are exposed to earth. No intervening sensuality: all sensations here are thin, pared, elusive but not illusory. Nothing in the air; no thickening of petals and perfumes, no drifting of leaves, no falling of snow, no covering on the ground to conceal from us what we tread upon. We are not within a world – a dreamy realm – of summer, autumn, season, time. In this winter we walk upon earth, and there is nothing to impede us, no life to wade through. There is nothing else except the sun, to inform us.

Nothing else except the sun and, devoid of decoration, the whole hold of this round earth.

Nothing else except the sun, and it treats us with a rare tenderness, illuminating the earth gently, and with a delicacy that is absent in the months of pouring summer abandon; as if patiently coaxing us to notice the elemental details.

With infinite care, the sun shows us. How lucky we are. How lucky we are to have inherited the earth, and the gravity that binds us to it.

Glasgow, Scotland
January 2007/2013


Sol – solas – solace – solstice… light returns.


The line of the sun is so low at this latitude. It comes level to us across flat yellow fields, over rooftops; reaching through to meet us, softly; reaching out for our fingers. It comes to keep the day with us, staying beside, shoulder to shoulder, companionately; sheltering, rather than exposing.

Gentle light. Kind light.
This is the light I came to live in.


frosted leaf in grass caught in the early sunlight


Sol, Latin for the sun, from which French soleil; and sol, French for ground, floor, from Latin solum, foundation, earth, from which soil.

Sol, soil, soleil: the sun and the land that holds it. The sun is at its lowest arc in the sky now, its humblest peak, barely clearing the hilltops by midday and seeming to stand still momentarily in its rise and fall around us before eventually beginning its climb towards summer again (solstice, from Latin sol and sistere, to come to a stop).

We take pleasure in its renewal, take solace, from Latin solari, to console, to assuage.

We take comfort and joy in this fine northern sunshine: our solas, Gaelic for light.

Strathendrick, Stirlingshire, Scotland
21st December 2012


world precipitating out into its particulars
articulating itself in crisp points
precious, precise

heavily frosted fence and twine

Strathendrick, Stirlingshire, Scotland
29th November 2012