The Nature of Light: an anthology

The Nature of Light: an anthology

Credit Amanda Tuke

Below are the ultra-short Thumbnail Nature pieces from a workshop on 19th June 2021 which I co-led with the wonderful Chantelle Lindsay, Great North Wood project officer. The quality of output from these online nature writing workshops continues to delight and astound me.

This is writing which celebrates the approach of the summer solstice. Stand alongside these nature writers as they experience sunlight dancing on ponds, through leaves, reflecting off insect wings, through eyelids or the unerring way light reveals truths about our relationship with the natural world.



Amanda Tuke - Great North Wood nature-writer-in-residence and workshop co-leader

The workshop was made possible thanks to public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Lottery and Arts Council Funded

Sunlight breaks through low cloud, pooling in nooks between weathered

fell-edges. Buzzards catch the updraughts, mewing as they circle,

gaining height. Like a thought held for the briefest moment, gorse

blazes against purpling heather before the drizzle closes in again.

Angi Holden...
has never forgotten her sense of wonder as she opened The Reader’s Digest Book of Birds on her birthday;  five decades later it is still her favourite book. @josephsyard

Nature’s light shimmied and swayed over the pond.

She responded with a dazzling white smile speckled with sun freckles.

Trees played host to skittish sun nymphs flitting among the leaves.

Water boatmen attached to their shadows, sculling legs, patrolling the pond.

Aerobatic light displays of luminous blue segmented damselflies.


Gloria Maloney...
writes creative prose and poems about the Essex country countryside she enjoys walking in.

The view from my room: a crumbling wall. Until sun beams through brick

shaped gaps, when I glimpse the world beyond; gardens wild with valerian and

dog rose, mistle thrush and fox. Shade reveals closer mysteries; old cement

tracks filled with velveteen moss, seed heads raised, like tiny triffids, seeking



Sarah Hill Wheeler.
Erstwhile lawyer, aspiring writer, frazzled mother. Sometime Londoner, returned to my rural roots. Now often found outside, with a double espresso, talking to hens. Twitter: @hill_wheeler

Capillary thread moss

Capillary thread moss credit Amanda Tuke

Mellow light filters through the trees, dappling bark and caressing translucent leaves. Not the burning midday sun or the glory of the sunrise, but a gentle farewell to the day. In a beam of sunlight midges perform a strangely mesmerising aerial ballet. The air is still, lush with hawthorn.

Antje Ayala-Torales...
originally from Germany, loves exploring the small outdoors in London's beautiful local parks and her garden.

Ash in sunlight

Ash in sunlight credit Jean Cowgill

One drop of sun sneaks

through my eyelids with

a mission. Dancing purples

swirl red, orange flickers

tickle the sleepy freckles

on my iris. I lose all sense

of otherness as my body

leans into the distant soul

of a galaxy and connects

unconditionally with

this dying star of life.


Britta Benson...
is a happiness & poetry blogging, circus skills instructing & common butterfly following  German, a writer, performer & linguist thriving in Scotland, her chosen habitat since the year 2000 @BrittaBenson7.

The yolk is smeared on the ground like the morning’s sun. A bright yellow, stark against hostile grey.


A four-wheeler track runs over the nest. This is the third time this curdle-cry pair has tried. They’re gone now. Gone.


This is the nature of light, making visible how we fail.


Why The Curlew Weeps, by E.E. Rhodes
An archaeologist who lives in Worcestershire. She writes a regular column on rural issues for Spelt Magazine and tweets @electra_rhodes

Crickets click like the chain of a bike as it rolls along a stony road. I hear the calls of bees, seagulls and old trees. The air is hot and dry as it scratches the sandy grass. Under the silent sun, it's just me, the bees, seagulls and old trees.


Martha Harwood...
is studying in Lancaster but her home is in South London where she enjoys  spending time with nature at the Horniman Gardens and Sydenham Hill Woods. @mh.artanddesign

Filtered light catches wings. New wings. A mayfly, cocoon-released, dries, hardens.

Day's spotlight reveals black stripes on clear filaments. We hold our breaths.

A red body gleams on loam, quivers. Shafts penetrate the canopy. Shadows flick-flack,

The Mayfly comes to herself, holds firm. Considers wings. Contemplates a different life.


Birth/rebirth, by Finola Scott

The heady spring scent of cow parsley,

Heat glowing red through my eyelids.

Face and hands tingling

I tilt further up to the light.

Open my eyes

Dazzling blue and downy green

A fragmented mosaic of leaf, light and sky.

Then clarity

Whitebeam leaves

Fresh, delicate, untouched

New life



Nicola Hunt
Born and brought up in Croydon, Nicola has always loved wildlife and enjoys walking and looking for wildlife in her local open spaces.

Squinting up through the canopy, streaks of light dance across my face and I reflect: the Sun doesn’t shrink itself for others nor dull its own shine. It rises, it sets, it illuminates, it invigorates. It brings life. Just like upon on the leaves, it shines down on me indiscriminately.


Chantelle Lindsay...
Great North Wood project officer and workshop co-lead.