from the pages of an old notebook.
from the pages of an old notebook.
I don’t have a waterproof camera
and my phone was wrapped in plastic, safe in a drybag,
for emergencies only.
And so I had no photos to share
to say I was there,
to try to convey the meaning of a moment.
But how often does a photograph really do that?
After all, there are other senses than sight.
Bank holiday monday,
the end of a scorching weekend.
Paddling south (first time in my canoe this year)
away from the crowds,
my arms remember how good it feels,
burn of working muscle
taking me further from the voices and barbecue smoke.
Past open water swimmers towing orange floats
who stop for a chat in the middle of the lake
unfazed by the deeps,
complaining of the cold water.
Past moored boats, and pine tree promentaries,
shingle beaches overhung with oaks,
until, at the south end of the lake
as yellow reeds narrow to reveal the start of a river,
I turn around to head back north and see
spread before me the calm lake
bordered by woods in the first flush of spring green,
low bracken-covered hills glowing
in the early evening sunshine,
the Coniston fells beyond, blue and slightly misty.
That is the moment I would have pressed the shutter.
But could that photograph record
the pleasant ache of shoulders and arms,
the gentle forward motion of the canoe,
the sound of water lapping,
a mind quietened to contentment?
One moment, containing
a sense of returning, of welcome,
a glimpse of childhood,
a farewell to winter,
and the seed of all the summers to come.
as an unusual kind of Russian doll.
A little plain on the outside
features worn away
Not really fitting in
with the colours and fashions
tastes and preoccupations of the world.
Oh! it’s like walking into a temple
There is a painted dome, midnight blue
studded with stars
And if you look really closely
you will see the stars are real
stretching out into
The inside of this doll is bigger
than the outside,
like a tardis.
Time and space mean little here.
Rich fabrics and jewels shimmer on the walls
but also trees, landscapes
Birds flit from tree to tree
and an imaginary cast of thousands
act out plays, ideas, novels
while music flows like wine.
At the centre, not a nest of smaller and smaller dolls
but a heart, beating in time with the universe.
Images and ideas flowing in from outside
are turned, shape shifted, into something beautiful
or something terrible,
and this place goes on for ever.
Imagine this is you.
Now, take that shimmering inside
Project it into this world
say what needs to be said
Light up our lives.
I have been wondering where my next painting will come from,
When I’ll feel like picking up my brushes again.
I don’t force it,
Inspiration can come in waves, or drops,
It trickled through this weekend,
First, a glimpse of a dusty canvas,
A feeling that I’d like to play with paint on it,
But not knowing what the subject would be.
Then, brightening up breakfast, goldfinches on the bird feeder.
Later, out birding, I glimpsed a tawny owl, roosting in a tree.
I watched a kingfisher, blue and orange among ochre reeds,
It caught three silvery fish while I watched.
And then, through my binoculars, a close up of branches and yellow lichen,
Mossy greens, rich browns and an idea takes shape,
The perfect background on which to paint
I went for a walk at the weekend in one of my favourite places in the world. Through woods and along the shore of Lake Windermere.
Walking for an hour or so, admiring the trees silhouetted against the silvery surface of the lake, late afternoon winter sunlight lighting up the trunks in shades of orange. Ancient sweet chestnuts, deeply fissured bark spiraling upwards, the same trees where as a child I used to gather chestnuts with my grandparents. Past the cathedral column trunks of huge Douglas fir, forest floor dotted with ferns. And always the gentle background lapping of water on the shore, and the breeze in the trees
Walking through layers of memories, yet alive to the present moment; that leaf, that pattern of branches against the sky, the low angled sun on the root plate of a fallen tree.
The sun set early, only a few weeks from the winter solstice. Leaving behind a silvery sky to match the lake. And the moon, rising above an old farmhouse, the smell of woodsmoke in the air.
Just an hour or so in a place I love. Sustenance for the whole week.
The power of place.
A landscape of the soul.