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Showing posts from January, 2017

between war and dreaming

It's one of those days where all the colours are perfect. Not a cloud in the sky. I sit in my little coastal cottage, listening to the peace. Because it's midsummer, we have almost no sparrows in the neighbourhood - mostly just blackbirds, and even then only a few of them. They sing briefly, as if pecking at the hot air and drawing sound from it. The noon brightness is strong, but what I really dread is evening, when humidity presses in and breathing becomes a chore.




I am alternating between reading updates of the American situation and working on my upcoming project. This post's header mentions war, and of course we're not there yet (and hopefully won't ever be), but the president just framed two senators' disagreement to a policy of his as an act of warmongering. I have been going from that to dream-haunted rivers and back again, while drinking tea (even in the heat) and wishing for winter. Every now and again I slip away to my garden, to sweep a path or do a…

becoming ungrounded

What I see in our world of towering of steel and long blank roads, shopping plazas, is that we are a people who have woken up to ourselves. We have embodied ourselves. We strive to be grounded, to be present, to be grateful.

And I think that's a bad thing.




May I ask, how does your body and your spirit find peace? Not your mind, but your bundle of muscles; not your thoughts, but the warmth that holds your core sense of I-ness. I wonder if you will answer: in the sway of water; in watching light drift over tree bark; in the sound of the leaves whispering; in standing lit upon the hill; in putting my hands dirtwards; in closing my eyes and letting it all float away.

Peace can exist only within our simple, natural being.

It comes from understanding our bodies are part of the great body of Nature, and that when we centre ourselves within ribs, personal skin, we are denying ourselves the greater portion of our actual being. Not surprising then that we get sick - depressed, anxious, addi…

an offering of morning stars

This morning I stepped out to the cold gentleness just before dawn. A filament of moon hung above the distant pines. Stars freckled the dark like promises drawn out of the sea and left up there to inspire us, sea-children that we are, sky-dreamers that we are. I found myself wishing the world could always be cold, gentle, starlit. Maybe not the world around me, for then how would gardens thrive? But the world inside my heart.




We are coming into difficult days. I have thought a lot about what I can contribute towards the effort for peace, especially as I believe it will now take an extraordinary shift to dislodge the awfulness that has clamped on to certain places in the West, and that is even now encircling other places with intent. I am not a person to sit quietly, I am a talker, an educator. But I also have a deep sense that we're standing on a precipice, and that whatever I offer at this moment will also be a gift to me, a reflection of my better self.

And so, although I refuse…

one woman's private march into the storm

I live in a country of lost mountains and witch trees. When the wind comes in from the north, it brings ghosts from ancient battlefields, spirits from drowned islands, blood and wordless poems. When it comes westerly, my heart breaks.

Yesterday I walked through a north wind at the edge of the day. It was like my own private march for the things I love and believe in. And all the long way there were songs for inspiration and solidarity : wind songs, dark tree songs, the little melodies of leaves skittering along the ground. Luscious pohutukawa trees, swirling around their tangly limbs, crawled with spirits - fierce lithe ancient spirits drawn out by the sea-washed storm. I would not call them leshys, as they seemed to be made equally from wind and bark, with claws of black tidestones and eyes of smiling light. (Or else they were shadowed leaves, and I have too much imagination. But I believe it's really up to each of us whether we want to experience this world scientifically or as …

with love on a nightmare day

Friends, I could say so many things this morning. My heart and stomach have been lurching since yesterday; oh, I have done much gazing at horizons, at beautiful skies and clean peaceful winds, as if I might draw from them hope, just like people have done for millennia - hope given by the coming sun, the enduring moon! I did have the opportunity to join a public march, but decided in the end to use my precious time working on projects of a quieter, deeper protest. All over the world, people are refusing today's situation by marching, praying, writing, gardening, watching romance movies. I only hope that, whatever they choose to do, they choose it mindfully. I believe vehemently in protest, in the positive forces of anger and refusal. Many times in my life I have stood up with a banner waving. But today is so profound that, for lots of reasons, it felt most right for me personally to dedicate it to my own priorities of love.



Here are some links which I hope give you happiness, c…

suburban magic

I didn't go to that field for spirit-listening. I was only cutting through. But in the wild and weedy way between footpaths, only a span of ten minutes or so, my life changed.



I have been writing a few essays about the magical spirits which share this neighbourhood with me. It was my intention to compile enough for a book, but that isn't looking likely at this stage without diminishing the work in an effort to expand the word count. I have therefore been considering other ways I can share the essays and, through them, the lost bunyips, small dirt dragons, bean sidhe, singing mice, and other beautiful, wild, and often endangered, creatures I have met over the years.
The pieces are too long for blogposts, and too dear to me to simply go out as e-letters. One thought I've had is creating a six week series of booklets which I would distribute via email (or perhaps actual mail) in return for a donation to our fund.
Is this something which would interest you? If so, please leav…

resisting summer

In this depth of summer, there are seeds of winter that I plant as often as possible in my heart, my vision, my hopes. I remind myself that all the things I love and have lost - cardigans, blankets, tea, warm cake, reading by candelight, cold mornings in the holy dark - will return, they will return, and in the meanwhile I have memory and dreams to keep me going.




I can open my window to night winds. I can go out at the edges of the day, before the worst of the heat descends. This morning, I had to bring in laundry which I'd accidentally left on the line overnight. It was five o'clock and stars were still staining the cold dark sky. A waning moon swayed over the ocean. I knew that, within half an hour, the sky would crack open, splotching green with dawn, but for just a little while the whole world seemed quiet and calm. It had a winter kind of soul to it. And for just that little while I was entranced.




I am learning, at long last, to cope with summer not by accepting it and …

writing with synaesthesia

This is as big as I can make the font. Any more and it feels like I am breathing through earth. How to describe synaesthesia even to those who may have it? The alphabet does not sit only on my tongue, but in my hands and in my throat. It bulges and bustles, and I try always to make it as fine-boned as possible, for the sake of my real comfort.

How to describe the heart of a woman who learned her poetry from trees and shadows?




There is a borderland where I bring my rain-soaked stories and you bring your needs, and somehow we figure out a give-and-take that hopefully provides value to each of us. I am growing old, I am stranded through with a grey that some people say is silver but I think is sky-coloured like out west, where the wind makes an elegy for its lost rivers far beneath the sea. Many things I can tolerate better than I ever did before. Other things have become more important, such as the weight of words, the space I have to breathe.

Big words, voluptuous fonts, feel like I a…

travelling from home, taking home with me

I went for a long drive. I went to a hill of ghosts and a pale, silent river. In the night, I slept beside an open door, and the damp wind, the moonlight, the old wild wishes of trees, slipped through my dreams.

And the downs were covered in dust and silent. And the sky was unrepentant.

While I was far away I kept with me certain things close to my heart. A beloved old book. My camera. Twitter for the latest news. A story of haunted Russian forests that I have read a hundred times at least.

Coming home, I saw immediately that someone trimmed the wind tree. But it goes on standing for now, and so my sea-wracked suburban sky still breathes.




I was surprised the mountains I stopped to photograph, finally, after years of holding my camera out the window as we drove past, proved not as heart-stirring as the willows, the river, the gentle busy birdsong beneath them.

I was surprised that, on returning home, all I missed of the countryside were its jessamine hedges (and of course the people I…

petrichor

A little silver rain is falling as if the trees are shedding their oldest winter dreams into the long, languid summer afternoon. I would gather it up, for I love winter; I would use it to wash my hands until they were perfumed with the smell of wet leaves, cold sky, satisfied earth. And I would hold my hands against my heart, and in this way be closer to my wild dream-boned god.


secret tenderness

She had a way of walking, like she was old summer rather than a woman; like she was slow dancing with the world. She had a smell about her that was clean, so clean, I felt mucky in her presence. I wanted to work out the secret of her effortless softness, easy quiet loveliness; I wished I could at least get my hair to look so good when it was messy - not  shambles, but a dreaming tumble of curl and light and curl.

But some people are natural poets, and some have to scrounge for rhymes.




I've come to understand that it is actually the brave or the confident who risk being openly delicate. Everyone else with a soft or magic heart learns quickly enough to protect it for fear of being hurt - finding shelter behind thorny hedges, or in library corners, or with bitter wit. They are still delicate, soft, magical, but they don't dare show it ... and don't dare show it ... until they no longer see it for themselves. They see only the way that not being true to their heart leaves the…

remembrances

I was sitting with my grandmother in the garden courtyard, in the sun, remembering our old days together - shelling peas in her kitchen, talking for hours on the phone, wandering beaches and country lanes. It was a blessing to have such simple, wholesome memories of her. I would rather have them than recollections of grand, extravagant adventures. If I was to climb a pyramid, I would stand at the crest and feel wonder, incredulation, love. Filling a bowl of homegrown peas with my nana is a quieter kind of love, but it weighs just as much.

The sunlight in the garden was gentle and warming. It filled me with another memory : standing in my imagination in the courtyard of the Harper Hall, looking up for dragons. This is how thoroughly the books I have read merge with my real life experiences. And it is why I believe in being careful what I read, and what I suggest young people read. For me, books aren't just about ideas and stories, but impressions that can remain over a lifetime. Th…

going wordless into the year

I have not chosen a word to guide me through the year ahead. I have not made resolutions. I want to go quietly, simply, letting the year, day, moments, give me their own names if they wish. This moment now is old gold. The sun lies heavy and tired on my neighbour's roof. It flutters in the wind-shivered leaves of my lovely old poplar tree, the last of the poplars around here, the one we look for every morning incase it too is taken away. This moment, it is solemn, sacred, and loving. I would not be able to think of any word that might preside over both it and the next moment, the aftergold moment, here now. All that luscious light disappeared in the blink of an eye. The roof is dulled. The leaves are more bronze than gold. The sun slips so fast away; I imagine the hills gathering it in. The dear old, dark hills - I can almost hear their voices of stone and hidden waters, singing bonds of sleep, of peace, around the bright and weary king. I sense his contentment in the warm, brown …

the woman who keeps the winter

"Finally the earth grows softer, and the buds on the trees swell, and the afternoon becomes a wider room to roam in, as the earth moves back from the south and the light grows stronger. The bluebirds come back, and the robins, and the song sparrows, and great robust flocks of blackbirds, and in the fields blackberry hoops put on a soft plum color, a restitution ..."- Mary Oliver
When I read this quote on Myth & Moor, I saw not spring but instead had a vision of a dark and white-stained winter, bare of song, a woman left almost alone in the landscape waiting for the birds to return. I imagine this is how it is for country dwellers, this feeling of the emptying out of their world. I imagine they must catch the eye of the owl and the fox across the silent fields, and share a moment of kinship, being the few left behind, the wintered community, the true dwellers there before crowds of happy summer tourists return.




And it makes me think what a responsibility the wintered…

writing through strength and softness

As a writer, I rely upon my vulnerability. I need my bones to be tuned to the quietest night wind, and my instincts to look for shadow, the moment that breaks a smile, the nuances of sighs. This is how I unthread the poetry of everyday life.

But to knit it again into story, that takes strength. Specifically, confidence. I must be confident that I can find the words, find the style, do it right, make something worthwhile. And then I must have the confidence to share it. Promote it.




I must also be confident a reader will find value in the story for themselves. Anyone can write a script on how one should feel about a subject, but to present the subject and sit back, sure the reader will be touched in ways appropriate for their own needs ... that is a little scary.

One of the most difficult tasks I have with my writing is creating a balance between this vulnerability and confidence. I am not good at it. Either my tender fragile sensibility causes everything to fall apart in a beautiful me…

a new story from old

It used to be I had dozens of weblogs on my feed reader. Now there are only a handful, partly because so few people are writing these days, and partly because I no longer have time to keep up with what I consider the "magazine blogs" of certain mothering/crafting writers - truly beautiful spaces, but there comes a point where you understand that lifestyle inspiration doesn't really draw you deep into your own life.




Besides, I am working on a new project, and it's demanding as many of my hours as I can reasonably give it. This one is very different from the books I've produced before. I'm nervous about it, and oh how my hand hurts from all the typing! but I can not seem to stop. That is why, despite there only being a handful of weblogs on my reader, I have seldom been able to visit them lately or leave a comment. My apologies to you. I hope in a couple of months' time I will be able to produce a good reason for your consideration.

The title of this post …

the language of a new year

I stood at the sea on the long last day of the year, and I tried not to weep. It wasn't easy. I don't weep so much for the voices of evil as for the silence of the good. But the sea was beautiful, old, and for that moment gentle. The sky went on and on, a contented ghost of the ocean. I'll find my hope in that, and try to hold on to tides, breezes, wild songs and wild dreams. 




This morning the new year, is calm and seems friendly. And of course the year itself holds nothing against us, but yearns for us to do all the good we can for ourselves. I don't believe in having a word of the year, I want instead to untangle the words 2017 has threaded through its light and its quiet shadows. I know they will be, as they always are, hope, promise, offering, opening, love.




Here are some lovely things to inspire you for 2017 ...

Allman Brown and Liz Lawrence : Sons and Daughtersmusic
Holly Lucero : Monstrous Dogsart
The Soul of Bonesfolklore
A letter from Gaza to Standing Rockhumanity