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Issue 14 just went to press and so we send many thanks to all the people who have contributed their thoughts and passions into the surprising melody that is the March issue. We’ll talk about some of these people here as we run up to publication, but for now we just want to tell you about how the covers, front and back, came to be as they are and what they mean to us.

Earthlines14 FrontCoverThe heron. All around us here: in flight, in ambush, in the place-names. ‘Corr’ is the Irish Gaelic word for heron, probably also for stork – the word, like the birds, has long legs and easily remembers the recent times when storks were common enough on this island. The patch of bog up over, just west from our house is called ‘Caiseal na gCorr’. The official place-name gazeteer of Ireland http://www.logainm.ie/en/ indicates that the name embodies an alternative meaning of ‘corr’ – a rounded, odd hill. But the locals think of the place as ‘the castle of the herons’. And sure enough, in a small conifer plantation just over a rise is the local heronry where we watched upwards of ten nests from a distant facing slope last year.

The herons work the river at the bottom of our garden all year round. As we were working on layout and images they were stood there, through the storms and the floods, concnetrating on  becoming less thin. Because the herons are early nesters, early layers. They do not wait for a dawdling spring – they herd spring to us, screeching and cajoling the season to keep ahead of them. With their ponderous knees cracking and their dagger bills on show, they are the unlikely-looking creatures who turn the great wheel of the year.

Earthlines14InsideFrontcover3And gorse. Prickly holdfast of the sun throughout the dark times. Always a gorse in flower. On January 24th this year the temperatures rose to near 13 degrees here in Meenderry. The bees woke and stretched and went out into winter. Just across the river from their hive was a great thumper of an old gorse with a whole heap of flowers. And for a few hours it hummed with bees.

In ‘Earthlines’ we try to honour many things using art and poetry – grit and determination, imagination, compassion for living things, joy in the natural world. But these cover images are neither art nor poetry. They are the finest of all sounds – the sound of what is.