Trampled. Green. And sparkly

Flick. Skim. Flick. That was me, last Sunday, with the newspaper. Jaded with news, jaded with the world.

Just jaded.

Then an opinion piece caught my eye. About ‘the song of the selfie siren’. And the deaths that result from pursuing the ultimate shot.

Towards the end, author, Eva Wiseman, wrote:

There is a way to prevent more deaths by selfie, except it involves reducing the power of the selfie itself. Part of that is promising to believe that a person once saw a fast coming train, or stood on a very tall cliff, without expecting time-stamped proof. Another part is learning how to tell better stories, without the use of pictures.

Then she added, by way of example:

“The light was the colour of custard,and it reminded me of being six”


With that one sentence my confidence toppled.

It was still on the floor, next morning, when the first rejection arrived. And trampled it, while it was down.

Many thanks for getting in touch, but your project is not for us and I wish you all the best elsewhere.

One sentence – just the one – for the thousands I’d gambled in the harsh game of authors’ submissions.

After the hollow feeling had begun to subside (via toast with blackcurrant jam), I took myself off for a trip.

Just a few miles.

First to an old, worn branch of my favourite, family-owned supermarket, Booths.

The velvet slipper of the supermarket world.

There I bought food we didn’t need. And afterwards went for a walk.

A walk to let the light in.

And I thought of Eva’s words. About telling better stories without using pictures.

So I put my phone in my bag, with my camera. And I tromped.

Everywhere I looked, I saw green.

A kissing gate (but no-one to kiss). Its blonde wood pale with the green of late, damp winter.

A path between trees of many types and ages. Their trunks lime-green in the sun.

Over some, ivy ran rampant, with berries black as sin. Its heart-shaped leaves a glossy, dark, blue-green. Like shiny shadows on the neon green of the trunks they were busy smothering.

A hawthorn’s snaggle-jagged branches tipped with pinches of juicy green. Bright frothy leaves, tentatively unfurling.

On the ground, clumps of sharp green daggers waited for bluebells to emerge.

Primroses, milky-yellow on sallow-green leaves, clustered on muddy-green banks.

Above, pretty against a sky-blue sky, frail white blossoms fluttered, shielding tiny dark stamens. The would-be leaves barely pinpricks of green on the twigs and branches holding them aloft.

In the dappled shade of marsh and swampy pond, almost-felled trees lived on. Still rooted, parallel with the dark water, clothed in lush moss. Velvet green, like a dinner jacket for a frog that should be a prince.

Frailer trees, with slender trunks and branches, wriggled over marshy mud. Their limbs, too, dressed in moss. But a fleecy gym-clothes moss, not the royalty-appropriate kind.

And on the damp margins of swamp and pond, tall bright spears thrust upwards, readying themselves for the glamour of soon-to-be irises.

Elsewhere, whip-thin stems of sappy trees rose, straight and vertical, from old stumps coppiced long ago. Ripe for basket making. But not around here, as far as I know.

Another lonely kissing gate, a country lane to cross.

Puddles, where the path sloped down, attracting two wellington-booted toddlers, wielding sticks.

Not stomping and splashing, but beating the puddles like an old, folk ritual of spring.

Well, it was the equinox. So perhaps a natural urge was buried in their genes. Innocent, toddling, carriers of our adult superstitions.

Here and there I passed men walking, women walking.

And dogs tugging. Herding, leading, sniffing. Relishing mud and water, the dirty, smelly patches their humans would rather avoid.

Below the path the reed pond was stagnant, the water scummy surfaced. Like dull raw silk, the colour of chip-shop mushy peas.

The reed maces still stood guard, but their bold brown drums were turning now to fairies – or tinder for survivalist fires.

I reached the end of the path and had to retrace my footsteps.

Ducks quacking – in pairs, because it was spring.

Geese honking. Seagulls squawking and wheeling, somewhere, way up where.

While nearer the ground, red-breasted robins hopped from tree to tree.

Silver-grey, fuzzy-tailed squirrels, fur spiced with a touch of rusty orange, scurried for height at the heavy approach of a human step.

And the sky-scraping poplar, its delicate, almost-white branchery dazzling in the sun, screamed, ‘look at me, I’m different’.

Bright as an omen, in a world that was mostly green.

A verdant, promising, budding, germinating, growing world.

And all this to the accompaniment of piccolos – birds, being birds, in springtime.

One last touch of nature awaited in the car park.

I ran my fingers over moss on the fence. Felt its springiness. And spring-ness.

Up close, it looked like tiny ferns – for elves or pixies or will-o-the-wisps

Back in the car I ate a tuna sandwich.

And on the way home the world darkened.

By the time I reached the coast, the coal-dust sky was striped with fat, crude, yellow brush-strokes.

Rain poured, out at sea. Sneaking, slowly, inland. To descend, of course, upon me.

In an ordinary supermarket, I bought ingredients for dinner, on that green, grey, rejected day.

I also bought sparkly jelly.

And it rained.

Those careless brushstrokes of lemon-icing-yellow – not custardy yellow, note – had found me.

Six. Or maybe seven, years old. With a packet of sparkly jelly.

Can you picture that?

This entry was posted in Art, jaunts & going out, Lancashire & the golf coast, Thinking, or ranting, or both and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Trampled. Green. And sparkly

  1. Yes,I certainly can!
    I enjoy good photography – there is a blog whose written contents I loathe but which I visit for its superb photography – but no photograph beats a word picture as the writer is there in the words with all those complexities which make what is being described so unique.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Phew, that’s a relief! Thank you.
    I know what you mean – photographs are so enticing but sometimes, it’s the words that make one cry or laugh or just plain sympathise. I tend to just see the photo blogs I follow rather than engage with them. I forgot to mention that at one point in my walk I thought, this is no good, I have to make a note. And then… my pen ran out!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thel says:

    It’s been a rough day. As I have told you before, it’s your words that wash over me. Just the way they are. Just how you write them.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Heide says:

    Anyone who believes “a picture is worth 1,000 words” obviously hasn’t read any of your posts. Beautifully seen; beautifully told.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. I don’t really know why I did this, except that the words of that opinion piece were in my mind. As I walked I realised I had started using the camera/phone to remember things for me. It was as if I had to learn to see things properly. I took out my notebook at one point and started to write but my pen ran out! I think nature was telling me something. I’m glad you saw the picture(s). Thank you, very much, again.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Heide says:

        You’ve hit on something I’ve been pondering for a long time, as friends have (gently) criticized my penchant for photographing *everything.* As you’ve discovered, it helps us not only to remember things — but sometimes also to see and experience those things in new ways. Kudos again on a beautiful post.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. “If you write one story it may be bad, if you write a hundred, the odds may be in your favour.”~ERB, is my tag line… unlike you I’m still working up the numbers. We tell our stories in different ways. When we don’t, it’s reporting. But we tell them. Sometimes we get lucky, our muses deliver a perfect phrase. Othertimes, they come off the sweat of our fingers…
    Sadly to some, none of this matters. What we wrote isn’t what THEY are looking for. But that’s not what real reading -or writing- is about. Real appreciation is about that which is offered. Don’t give up on that project, or anything else, put it out there. We believe.
    Lessons learned are gifts. This, that you pursued is beautifully tactile, the most evocative of our senses, a tart but not quite bitter lemon icing on the cake that it is to feel the need to write, and share. There are those who write but don’t risk sharing their creations… without, have a taste of this what do you think, the effort seems somehow pointless.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dale, I wish I had your way with understanding and explaining and analysing and saying. Risking is important, as you point out, even if sometimes we fall over. Thank you for this kind, supportive message. Thank you. It’s reassuring to me to realise what I have learned from other bloggers, including you. One blogger, Sue Ranscht, did three posts about ‘rejection repurposed’ – she used each rejection as a stimulus to create something new. That popped up in my mind on Monday and inspired me to do something, not just fester. Hence the trip.
      I’ll be over to look at your latest post this morning and see what you’ve been up to in the garden as your seasons change the opposite way to ours!


  6. jilldennison says:

    You write beautifully! Yes, I can picture it absolutely! You don’t need a camera … wow … I … am speechless! (Of course it is 3:00 a.m. on this side of the globe, I have been struggling all night, finishing the night with a cup of wine and a bowl of cheesy puffs, so … ). But seriously … that was vivid and beautiful! Write on, dear friend!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aw, thanks so, so much, Jill. Cheesy puffs and a cup of wine – well jealous! Having a healthy wine-free week this week and going to bed early… Hearing the birds sing as it gets light and sleeping through the owls. Do take care of yourself – all those 3 am blog-writing marathons… we need your careful attention navigating for us the madness of the world (she says, selfishly) – so don’t wear yourself out till it’s sorted! Thank you, again, for these very kind and encouraging 3 am words 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • jilldennison says:

        Yes, I do need to start getting in bed earlier! Sleeping 2-4 hours a night is just not doing good things for mind or body … it is giving me a case of the grumpies, I fear. Or perhaps that is that nasty small-handed man in Washington that is responsible for my grumpies. Either way, I think my family would like it if I got over it soon 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  7. As a photographer reading this piece, your words describe the feeling and sensation of the scene far more eloquently than an image could. I remember your very descriptive piece titled “If a picture paints a thousand words”, near the end you say “words can take me to places pictures can’t”. So true of this latest work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m stumped for what to say for once! That is really – I don’t know, sorry. Thank you Ron. But I do think there are other things images can do that words can’t. Wedding photos, for example, which we discussed at the last Jelly. Even if I described the bride and her dress perfectly no-one would pull out my paragraphs in fifty years time and say, ah, didn’t she look beautiful, with tears rolling down their cheeks. I suppose all media have different places in hearts and minds and eyes.
      That other post you mention, I had totally put out of my mind till today when another blogger reminded me by citing it at the end of a post I think you will like:


  8. Sue Ranscht says:

    Mary, this entire piece is brilliant. Among my favorite images: “Like shiny shadows on the neon green of the trunks they were busy smothering”, “pretty against a sky-blue sky”, “Velvet green, like a dinner jacket for a frog that should be a prince” (which made me smile), “Not stomping and splashing, but beating the puddles” (which made me laugh out loud), and “fur spiced with a touch of rusty orange” (which made me hungry for my favorite color)..

    Your rhythms and flows are musical. Like Shakespeare well-performed, they beg to spoken conversationally. And creating story as thoughtful and carefully rendered as this certainly counts as “making something beautiful” in response to a rejection. I trust it made you feel at least as good as it made us feel, and that is the point. Well done!

    Keep braving the chance that the agent who reads your work isn’t your perfect match, and you’ll find at least one who is. After all, if you offer strawberry ice cream, you’ll probably come across many who are looking for chocolate or vanilla first.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a lovely way of soothing the soreness Sue, strawberry ice cream. Yes, I will keep that one in my head! I am sure there will be more occasions to use it… I think you came up with a genius idea, actually making something lovely from rejection and along with Hawaiian huna Zen-style behaviour it is one of my favourite lessons of the last year.
      A friend asked me if I wrote notes as I did this walk, which I didn’t, and it was a real reminder of how easy it has become to use the camera or phone as an observation substitute.
      Your comments made me feel terrific – THANK YOU!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Sue Ranscht says:

        You’re welcome. 🙂 I have to confess the ice cream analogy isn’t mine. I learned it from a San Diego State University Drama Department professor who used it as a way to look at being cut during the audition process. It stuck with me because it seems valid for any selection process that requires subjective judgement. I’m glad you find it as encouraging as I did. Keep offering your true favorite flavor!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Rosemary Reader and Writer says:

    Rejections are heart-breaking, aren’t they? And I’ve done exactly the same thing as you, ie go out and buy things we didn’t need. I also loathe selfies. Two years ago, we watched Chinese women taking selfies – with selfie sticks, of course – actually while they were bathing in the Blue Lagoon. Hope none of them dropped their phones.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha, go on, admit it, you do hope they dropped their phones! On the buying things we didn’t need, it was, in my defence (i know I don’t need one but old habits die hard) food which we did eat. By way of contrast, yesterday I bought three items of clothing and loved them – only to find that the man in my life hated two of them. Now, something designed to cheer me ended up both annoying and saddening me – perhaps there’s a lesson in that. And no, feminist though I am, I am not strong enough to wear something that puts that look on his face!! Thanks for reading Charlie/Rosemary.

      Liked by 1 person

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