Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Lowland pleasures

click photo to enlarge
"Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time", John Lubbock, English biologist and politician (1834-1913)

There are those in England who say that the English lowlands are boring. I used to be one of those people! Having been brought up in the hills and mountains of north-west England I had become accustomed to the landscape, to the wild summits, the greener valleys, outcropping rocks, dour farmsteads and stone-built villages. So, when I moved to the lowlands of eastern England I was surprised by how quickly I came to appreciate the different beauty that it represented. The brick-built houses with their orange pantile roofs, the oolitic limestone churches, the hedgerows and seasonal field patterns, all impressed me. However, what struck me most forcibly was the beauty of those big skies. Only when I had experienced them by living below them did I realise why the painter John Constable was driven to repeatedly paint skyscapes, and why he never felt the need to travel beyond the confines of these islands.

In many ways, the clouds (and the trees) are the mountains of the lowlands. In that setting they exhibit a similar grandeur. There are times of year when these insubstantial forms seem solid, massive, almost overwhelming in the way they impose themselves upon you. This photograph does, I hope, show something of that. It is a view of the River Wyre near the village of St Michael's-on-Wyre on the Fylde Plain in Lancashire. The scene has no single main subject, but rather is a representation of green and vigorous nature in late May. The flower-flecked river banks, lush grass and thrusting trees frame the river and its reflections, and over it all is a covering sky of massed clouds. Though this is the lowlands, the figure of the solitary fisherman is easy to overlook. Can you see him?

This photograph was taken in the late morning, and I composed the shot so the river and line of trees would take the eye throught the frame. My photographs usually have a clear subject or focus, but here I simply wanted to capture one of the the backgrounds that make lowland England a pleasant place to be, and to allow that to speak for itself. Oh, and about that fisherman - I didn't spot him until after I'd taken the photograph!
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

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