Would you give up a portion of your garden to wildlife?

I live in the countryside surrounded by fields and am fortunate to have an acre of land. Despite having a main road at the front, lots of wildlife live in my garden. The reason? I have left many areas to grow naturally and hopefully, given a safe haven to many species that are on the brink of extinction.

blue dragonfly b

Yes, there are brambles everywhere, but also beautiful wild flowers that attract bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects, which in turn attracts, bats, hedgehogs, snakes, toads and other less cute animals such as rats. But hey, they’re just as adorable in their own way.

With Bees - garden

poppies tall

IMG_4829

buzzy bumble

So I wonder if anyone else has decided to let a part of their garden, or yard, for my American friends, go back to nature and let the ‘weeds’ flourish? I would love to hear from those who have.

My Sci-fi/Dystopian series – The Song of Forgetfulness – is to a certain extent an homage to Mother Nature and a condemnation of mankind’s disregard for the delicate balance of the environment. I didn’t intend to make it an eco-warrior rant, but as I researched global warming, deforestation and the like, I became angry and deeply upset, so how could I not vent my feelings of despair and try to get a message across – please save our beautiful planet Earth before it’s too late.

I will be releasing a prequel to the series – The Chronicles of Mayer – in the next few weeks so watch out for another post!

The Chronicles of Mayer:

A story of survival and courage in a devastated world.

Adara needs to know more about her past if she, and everyone else, is to have a future. The Moocow Monks of Mayer have the answers. Inside their subterranean archive, as Adara sits and watches the history of NotSoGreatBritAlbion unfold before her eyes, she learns disturbing truths hidden for centuries, in – The Chronicles of Mayer.

The catastrophic flood of 2158 wipes out most of the population of Great Britain and destroys Mahabharata House, a Buddhist community. The only two surviving cow herds, Gopi Jnanamaya Kosha (Mayer) and Gopala Arjuna Bhutapanchaka, are forced to flee, taking the cows with them. With water levels rising at an alarming rate, they move the sacred herd to the highlands of Scotland.

Mayer_crop25.07

You can find all of the books in The Song of Forgetfulness series here:

Author.to/BooksonAmazon

 

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Want Something Different To Read For Mother’s Day?

Firstly, I want to say Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful mothers out there.

spring

I am all for celebrating the joy  and hard work of motherhood. I think it is a wonderful idea to have a special day to say thanks, but I do get a bit fed up with all the over-the-top sugary sentimentality that the event conjures up.

So, as an antidote, let me share my Sestina – Echo– with you all. It may be a little dark, but it does celebrate the relationship between a mother and daughter.

Sestina – Echo

b&W Tulip

Echo

In blackness, Mother reaches for the light

switch, but the bulb has blown. There’s a candle

under her pillow, ready for a time

like this – when the darkness grips. A cut

on her arm has festered and now the skin

appears red and taught; an angry mark.

She tries to rub it away, but the mark

won’t go. Mother cowers, whispers, ‘No light.’

Calls out, ‘Mary, quick.’ Then picks at the skin

around the wound. Mother lifts the candle

rubs it on the dirty scratch. Mary says, ‘Cut

again?’ Then sets the wick on fire. One time

she found Mother naked, another time

crouched in the corner making a mark,

a sign to her daughter. A broken nail cut

her arm, left a blood trail that soaked up light.

Mary saw it flow and seep into the candle

whose flame highlighted Mother’s aged skin

hanging in folds. Mary peers at her own skin.

But the dimness hides the truth; that at some time

gravity will win. Mary takes the candle.

Sees a rough carving of a heart-shaped mark.

Did Mother make this? A bird calls as light

shines through the window. It’s enough to cut

into the gloom they stand in, and to cut

away the chill. It shines upon the skin

they share, so similar in this half-light.

Mary shudders at the thought that in time

her fate will be to scratch out such a mark

and wear her body half melted like candle

wax. A strand of hair has stuck to the candle.

She pulls it off revealing a perfect scar, a cut

embedded. With her thumb she makes a mark

like Mother made, leaving some of her skin

behind. They smile at the symmetry; how time

has crept up behind them and how the light

transformed the candle wax into a fresh skin

to lay across the cut, giving it time

to heal the mark, slowly fading in the light.

REd tulip_

If you enjoyed this poem, you might like to read more unusual and darkly inspiration stories to be found in my anthology – Glimmer and other stories.

On the Eighth Day:

“He wriggled and pushed the bedclothes down. It was the first time I had seen him in the flesh.  His skin was white, and smooth as the skin on warm milk.

Never knew a man could feel so soft. More used to rough hands grabbing, not knowing what they touched.

He knew.

At least, I hoped so. Hard to tell. Been a while since I was in the company of a male.”

glimmer front red 2

‘The subjects range from humour to horror and supernatural romance to repressed creativity – they all have an underlying oddness about them which is quite refreshing. Recommended for those who enjoy something a bit out of the ordinary.’

‘Glimmer and other stories’ is a miniature treasure chest of jewels. I absolutely loved these short stories. As I was reading, I fell into a trance of adjectival excess… they were mesmerising, masterful, original, eloquent, lyrical, clever…’

On Offer at Amazon:

US:  http://amzn.to/239YbRG

UK: http://amzn.to/1n6Hqpu

 

Colour versus black and white

I found a couple of broken, half-dead tulips in my garden the other day. Instead of throwing them on the compost heap, I decided to try to revive them and put them into a vase of water. To my delight, after a couple of days they did recover a bit.

flowers in vase

As they started to decay, I realised the flowers became more beautiful as their petals dried up. I took some photos of them with my husband’s stained glass window as a backdrop. I thought that the colours in his glass complimented those of the flowers.

dead tulip  dead tulip 2

I was delighted with the results, then the experimental in me took over and I turned them into black and white.

dead tulip B&Wdead tulip 2 B&W

Now I’m not sure which I like best.

Do you  think the colour photos are better than the black and white pictures?

Life Imitating Art

I have just read an article in the Guardian newspaper entitled – Have we lost half the world’s animals?: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-magazine-monitor-29458930

sarcophage-4

This interested me because of the YA dystopian novels I have published. In this futuristic scenario, animals and fish and amphibians are just a memory, or an entry in a history book. Gone due to mankind’s abuse of the planet earth. When I wrote the books, I researched the possibility of mass extinction on a global level and was seriously shocked by some of the data I discovered. When I did my initial research a couple of years ago, I came across statistics saying that over 30% of animal life, including amphibians, reptiles and birds had declined. At the time I thought it was awful but now a new survey carried out by the WWF and highlighted by the Living Planet Report, suggests that the percentage is more like 52% and has been since 1970. You can read the full report here:

http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/all_publications/living_planet_report/

I remember during a reading of my book one person suggested that my somewhat depressing idea that only insects and a handful of birds and wild dogs exist in the future, was nonsense. If only I’d had this report to hand. I would have quoted this extract from it, ‘Put another way, in less than two human generations, population sizes of vertebrate species have dropped by half. These are the living forms that constitute the fabric of the ecosystems, which sustain life on Earth – and the barometer of what we are doing to our own planet, our only home. We ignore their decline at our peril.’

pony  IMG_4829  IMG_4325

Instead I said that I had done research, and figures suggest that my bleak outlook on the future of animal life on this planet is based on factual reports that I have intentionally exaggerated for the purpose of my narrative. In the light of this report, it would seem that my vision of the future might be right after all.

rasky eye

I urge everyone to take note of this appalling figure and do whatever you can to stop my vision of a world without animals coming true, by supporting the WWF and spreading the word. We must learn to realize that human and animal life must live in harmony if we are all to continue to exist on this beautiful planet.

Nature conservation and sustainable development go hand-in-hand. They are not only about preserving biodiversity and wild places, but just as much about safeguarding the future of humanity – our well-being, economy, food security and social stability – indeed, our very survival.’ (Quote from the Living Planet Report 2014)

hawk   crocus   boris on grass

For further information on WWF please go to this link: http://wwf.panda.org/

If you are interested in reading by books, here are the links:

http://www.amazon.com/Echoes-Lost-Ones-Song-Forgetfulness-ebook/dp/B00CXSZIGS/ref=sr_1_1_title_0_main?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1408436005&sr=1-1&keywords=echoes+from+the+lost+ones

http://www.amazon.com/Silence-Heard-Song-Forgetfulness-Book-ebook/dp/B00JMPWRX2/ref=pd_sim_b_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=16567ZZQKBJ2G2VWY2J8

Nettle Soup and Bugs

I was picking nettles this morning to make some soup – it will be the last time this year as they are going to seed and dying off – when I spotted a rather lovely bug. Well, I had to take a picture of it, and then I saw a few more interesting things to photograph – so I did.

 

purple bug

 

buggle

 

 

spiral flower

 

white flower and bee

 

You can see more of my photographs and stuff on my new website: http://www.nicolamcdonagh.com/