two thousand and fifteen

As the old year slowly turns towards the new, and I rest among trees, beside old waters, I offer today merely a retrospective ...




January : A Wild and Lovely Story of the Sea
I've spent most of my life within eyesight of one ocean or another, and I can't imagine being without it. How does anyone breathe air that is not salted and damp and full of moon dreaming? I was a fisherman's daughter; I've lived on boats and islands, beaches and estuaries. I am surrounded by sea-people who have windswept smiles and sea-bashed feet. Even so, it remains foreign territory to me. I don't speak sea-language. All too often someone will point out to me a current or the shift of the wind, and I'll stare blankly at what seems like just water to me.




You may say she is just a tree. That is what the neighbours will be saying. A Norfolk Pine, they call her, which seems like such a cold, thoughtless identification - like calling someone an American Indian. We do this though, don't we? Name things and leave it at that, as if naming them is all the conversation we need to have with them. I've learned over the past few years, through mothering, and now tending plants in a small garden, that names tend to stop communication. If someone is a child, we're less likely to listen to their desires, their fears, their long stumbling explanations. If someone is a Muslim, or homeless, or an ex-con, or overweight, that is all too often the end of the dialogue.




A blogpost is mostly a leaf plucked, its veins traced, its path into light followed as it drifts away from the fingers into the world. (Although sometimes, it can feel like a whole tree being pulled up.) A poem, a story, is a shell or a sudden red rose that tumbles in from the deep sea, bringing its own wonder, and what one must do is find the words to describe it. A novel, now - it seems to me that is a long, careful tracing of ivy through forest, or of pearls dropped amongst white stones and leading, with frightened silent hopes, to the dark house where someone is waiting to be rescued. The reader must be guided empathically so they see the pearls, the tiny buds on the ivy, and so they emerge finally, clearly, from the forest.




Rain has been falling most of the day. It sounds like the secrets of old, dark mountains that have shivered slow on down to the ocean and dissolved - only to be drawn up again centuries later to become rain that breaks against my windows and into my garden. People say we are made of stars, but days like this I think they're wrong, I think we're made of hill-water and other people's secrets.




I like having a romantic relationship with stories. Not in the modern sense of that word, but the older one : mystery, excitement. A relationship of secret smiles, whispered dreams, roads bending away into gold-lit possibility, the allurement of a half-open door or half-naked eye, a breeze bringing in wrack and wishing from the sea. I like to walk through the supermarket with story drifting around me, dark and wicked, making me forget to buy bread. (But only if it's no real hassle to go without that bread.) I'd rather snatch half an hour of intimacy with a story than spend all morning typing and plotting and drinking cups of tea.



  Just beyond that hill was a pallid ocean. And something else. A memory, a desire, a calling forth or reaching back ... We need a word for this, I thought at the time. A word for the ache of distances - spacial distances, temporal ones. English is such an earthy, practical, bull-headed language. We have nothing like toska, saudade, hiraeth. No specificities for the beautiful pain of yearning. Ours is a language of farmers and warriors. It does not easily sing us outside of ourselves.




I went out in the last light of the day, the time that always seems to me like a Robert Frost poem, lovely and just a little melancholy. I came home in the dark. Only two bright stars were visible, too bright for beauty. And the sky, so black and cold, was stiff with silence. I was glad to get home. But at home I felt the darkness and the cold linger within me, as if I had a night sky behind my bones. And for all the river dragons and leshys that live on this plain, it seemed far too empty for comfort. The emptiness of wide spaces and the air above the sea.




A gentle rain is falling this morning. It has a voice like compassion. I am going slow into the day. Sometimes in our lives we enter a space where everything else falls away and we just have our body pulsing around us and our soul surrounded by dark. You know, the migraine hours, the sudden crashing illness times, the moments after an accident. We're too sick or dazed to think about money, manners, or what our hair looks like. All that connects us to the world beyond our bones is love. Our love and concern for the important people in our lives.




I remember sitting on my scrumptious camp bed in my mother's house deep in the countryside, my heart full of floating white mountains and wild oceans, and trying to type up the latest chapter while my computer rocked on the lush, soft quilts. I remember sitting on a storm-swept beach with my mother and talking about Richard's secrets, and receiving letters from people who were worried about where the story might be heading, and trying to trust myself that I was going to get it done the way I wanted to. I remember writing chapters until my heartbeat rose into my throat and silenced any further words - and then the mad editing would begin, with the week's deadline looming! I'm still not sure how I got it done.




This is the season of wild-heartedness. I saw a barefoot man today crossing the pavement like a misplaced old god, and my spirit stirred. This is the season of skin laying down upon earth, and arms reaching around slow-pulsing brown trees, and singing with the birds.




Today I went a long way in the rain. I watched it fall in a field of wildflowers and drift through old soft trees. The world was beautiful. (And the world was wracked with pain.) Let me give you long, shimmering grass, and the wistful drape of leaves, and all the gentle comfort of morning rain. I hope you may get from it peace and love.




I like small books. I also like hefty books, brimming over with story. All books, really. But there is something special about a small book which touches delicately upon a few stories, and holds a gentle silence between them, so you have the opportunity to sit quietly, and feel deeply, with a handful of suggestions. If a book is crammed full of tales, some intimacy is lost.


Thank you for this year's conversations. I appreciate your company so much.

8 comments:

  1. I enjoyed your words very much especially February that has prompted thoughts that will stay with me for a long time. I wish you a wonderful festive time Sarah and a very happy new year! Jess xx

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  2. I enjoyed your words very much especially February that has prompted thoughts that will stay with me for a long time. I wish you a wonderful festive time Sarah and a very happy new year! Jess xx

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  3. Oh, such a year!
    Your words draw me in, to the depths of our world.
    Thank you.
    I also appreciate your company.

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  4. I saw your post this morning and thought I will save this till the evening where I can absorb your words and inhale the beauty of them. I was right to do so - it has been a year of words with such meaning that gather me up and take me with them. Thank you Sarah.

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  5. You've brought such beautiful words, thoughts, pictures and wild stirrings to my year. Thank you!

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  6. You've brought such beautiful words, thoughts, pictures and wild stirrings to my year. Thank you!

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  7. "People say we are made of stars, but days like this I think they're wrong, I think we're made of hill-water and other people's secrets."

    i love this...

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  8. you have such a way with words Sarah, thank you for all you share

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