The Balloon Ride and the Hawk in the Rain – thinking positively on a cold, wet day.

The weather has turned colder and wetter over the last two days and it’s made my bones ache.  Also I seem to have come to a bit of a halt photography wise.  It’s happened since I sent off my first Assignment for feedback.  There are exercises to work on and I’ve had ideas for mini projects but I can’t seem to get going on them.  Maybe I’ll feel more enthusiastic when my assignment comes back – then again maybe not!

It seems I’m not on my own at this point because this morning a discussion started on the OCA Flickr site about what to do when feeling un-motivated.  My left-brain response was to start a list of things I needed to do (work not photography) because at least then I could tick things off and feel more positive.  One bit of advice was to go out and just take a photograph of something silly and without having to think it should be perfect.  I did contemplate that for a while – thought I might even go out and buy a funny toy and photograph that – but I just didn’t have the energy.

I started to think about rain and then had an inspiration.  I would find a poem about rain.  Straight away, ‘Hawk in the Rain’ came to mind – the poem by Ted Hughes.  I did a creative writing course many years ago and can still remember my tutor putting on a recording of a poet reading his own poetry.  His voice immediately took me back to Yorkshire and I felt at home.  Having decided to find the poem I then thought back to an email from one of my contacts who lives in the States.  He’d sent me a link to his website and mentioned some photos of a balloon ride.  I remembered my own balloon ride in December 2005.  I was on holiday in Egypt,  and asked our local guide about  balloon rides because a friend had told me about them.   I’m not a very brave person and the idea of going up in one of those wouldn’t normally cross my mind.  However, I found myself asking our guide about them and then signing up to a dawn ride over the Valley of the Queens. It was definitely an uplifting experience!  I went back amongst my old photos and found these two.


Taken with a previous  compact camera so not the best but I worked on them in Photoshop a bit. and the colours are warming and cheerful.  I can remember the day, the air of excitement and all the children rushing around to help.  I wonder how all those people are now in the midst of  recent events.  I really liked the Egyptian people.  There is a lot of poverty there but the people I met were lively and energetic despite it all; and also very proud of their country.  I had wanted to go to Egypt for a long time because my father was in the army there after the 2nd World War and he sent me letters which I still have because my mother saved them for me.  He travelled with me in a way because everywhere I went I wondered if my father had been there and tried to imagine him all those years ago – young, black-haired and handsome with his flashing brown eyes and wide smile.

I then found the poem, “The Hawk in the Rain”.  It actually paints quite a violent picture but I like the assonance and alliteration. Here’s an extract


While banging wind kills these stubborn hedges,

Thumbs my eyes, throws my breath, tackles my heart,

And rain hacks my head to the bone, the hawk hangs

The diamond point of will that polestars

The sea drowner’s endurance:…


I can imagine Ted Hughes striding on the Yorkshire Moors in the rain and creating these words in his head.

I normally pass over all those tips and hints on thinking positively like, ‘before you go to sleep think of 3 things that went well during the day’, but I think it is true that  when you’re having negative thoughts you mainly only remember miserable things that happened in the past and what went wrong.  It can be hard to pull yourself out of them.  I’m not talking here about bone-deep depression, because that’s something else entirely, but those days when life seems to have lost its sparkle a little.  I’m glad I found the balloon and the hawk in the rain.

28th February 2011