April 24, 2014

a medicine walk

I was feeling slightly unwell for a time yesterday, so I took myself out walking. It seemed a strange thing to do, since rest was obviously in order, but instinctively I wanted trees and flowers. And my instincts were right. By the time I got home, I felt much better.

The air was gentle, warm, and charmed with sudden drifts of red and brown leaves. The little woods smelled of mushrooms. The rich brown and musky perfume of autumn is not as popular as summer's fresh sweetness but I prefer it. To me it smells like old books, old houses full of memories.

For a moment as I stood on the path looking skyward, soft green leafward, I felt as if I was in a warm autumn hour from many years ago, in the west, a hopeful dreaming young woman. Or maybe I was in that hour looking forward until now : time is a lovely crochet, not a straight line.

I have no idea whether it was midday or afternoon, or how long I walked. What I did realise, as I went from woods to water and across a busy road to the few glimpses of flowers I knew were around, was that this neighbourhood holds much beauty, in corners and hedges, small places. I'm grateful for what I can get.

I found the last flowers of the season, which was like a blessing as I've been sad to see them disappearing over the past few days.

And then I went home for a cup of tea.

April 22, 2014

why beautiful things are important

Who would you be, if everything was perfect? Would your voice soften if you had that delicate floral wallpaper you've always wanted. Would your heart gentle, and be more nurturing, if you had lush willows and white roses in your garden? And what would you do with your love if you had all the time your could want?

So, why not paper your soul with dream flowers? And plant a garden of lovely thoughts in your heart? You can be within yourself all the things you want to have in your life.

This is what I think wisdom sounds like.

Except that I believe floral wallpaper and willows do matter. It's not that they make life perfect. It's that the soul wants conversation with beauty. Of course, all things in creation are beautiful, even plain white walls and stark, star-shaped pines growing tall amongst stark, concrete suburban homes. But there are certain types of beauty which are kindred to each individual soul. We seek those things, we wish to fill our life with them, so we can look at them and see something precious of ourselves in reflection. For what we love shows us the beauty in our selves.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

April 20, 2014

the geography of the wild soul

All it took was one certain corner. One moment of going a different way instead of just home. And there was the little forest.

It had been planted on purpose, and as I walked through I felt the sense of belonging-to, of human ownership, which claimed each tree's existence. And yet, deeper still, there was the peace of the wild things.

An essential freedom.

Never mind who planted them; they are themselves.

It is not my forest. And I can only go there at particular times, when the property is opened. (Next door is a public forest, darker, random, for when I want foresting. But it is so different in tenor from this little one.) Despite the restriction, something in me connected with something amongst the trees, an old and silent song which we translate prosaically as home.

A little while ago, I found a suggestion by Sylvia Linsteadt of earth constellations. Ever since, I've been holding it in my hands, along with other foraged things - small treeflower thoughts, memories of cobwebs, old ideas drawn out of dark pools of other evenings - as I think on the notion of geography. I've been wondering about the heartlines which weave me into the place of my birth, and the place I am now, and how I may see my destinies in wild flowers amongst the dry, tenacious ferns, and stretchmarks on water, and unexpected little forests.

And I've been thinking too about how we can ever hope find ourselves in places that are so much concrete, and glass, and traffic. But I've come to no conclusions, only sorrows.

The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry
A couple more pictures of the little forest