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When Sparrows Walk on Water

Friday, 19th December 2003
Richard Bell's Wild West Yorkshire nature diary

sparrows on the pondAs I take a break to make a morning cup of coffee I can't help smiling as I look out of the kitchen window: the frost has given, the surface of the pond is liquid again and there, standing ankle deep, in the middle of it with no obvious means of support are three house sparrows.

They're trying their best to take a bath but that's tricky in the quarter of an inch of water that is lying on the ice. They can't work a mere saucer-full into a power-shower of spray. Nor can they stop bickering; one annoys another and, as it flies off, the irritable bather pecks in peevish indignation in its general direction.


No wonder Tchaikovsky chose Swan Lake as his subject. Sparrow Pond doesn't have much to offer in the way of elegant poignancy. Even when performed on ice.

Frozen in Time

canoeistBy the canal basin a solitary canoeist makes his way across a patch where a stream inlet has made a chaos of the broken sheet-ice. As the traffic at the bridge pulses to the sequence of the lights, obscuring my view with passing vans, I watch him through a lattice of shadowy ash branches, making careful progress in the fading afternoon light.

It's like looking back in time. Right here, thousands of years ago, our ancestors must have paddled their dug-outs along the river here.

penNew Brown Pen

I was writing about my favourite pens recently. Here's one that I think will become a favourite: an Edding 1800 profipen. It's a fibre-tipped drawing pen with lighfast pigment ink. I chose sepia ink, it's also available in black, and the 0.5 nib; there's finer 0.1.

This is the first time I've tried it and it's got a great advantage over my current favourite, the Rotring Art Pen which can be filled with sepia ink: the pigment ink doesn't run when I add a watercolour wash.

The fibre tip seems capable of making almost as varied a line as the traditional metal nib of the art pen. next page

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Richard Bell

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