Fireweed* - Revelation

By Sandra Gibson - January 2015
Photographs by Geoff Edwards

Winter exposes the bare-branched filigree wonder of our deciduous trees. For a brief time the emphasis is on linear structure rather than plenteous shapes and colours. This is not entirely true: the bareness of these trees also emphasises the evergreenery of conifers and ivies and reveals more sky, with its perpetually changing drama of colour. When the winter sun shines it blushes the branches of silver birches and lights up the rigidly perpendicular dogwood to ruby red.

Exposure also deprives the birds of cover and they must risk our scrutiny to find food and water. I really appreciate these close, almost poetic, encounters: a wagtail’s comic sprightliness as it patrols the front of the kebab shop; a pigeon jutting round my feet; a crow in a fringed cloak.

Blackbird in Frost

I saw the blackbird’s beak first -
intensified to orange,
then his fluffed feathers:
feathers fluffed against the cold
to matt black velvet.
Then the thin legs
walking on the frost- brittled grass.
How bright his eyes,
how alert his body to my presence
yet he didn't flinch
or fly away.

Winter Light

Immense sunlight:
intensely white -
low shining
on the pavement,
flashing in car windows,
radiating under along my lashes.
A group of pigeons in flight:
the low sun flash-reddens their bellies.

To read other Fireweed columns click here

*Also known as Rose Bay Willow Herb, the prolific wild flower called Fireweed, five feet tall with spikes of magenta flowers, cheers the hearts of those whose cityscape has become a bomb site or whose buildings have been cleared by machine. The dormant seeds spring to life after destructive events such as forest or man-made fires, hence the name, Fireweed. This occasional column will celebrate the persistence of wildlife in urban conditions.

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