“Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are.”
– Mason Cooley
– Mason Cooley
“Once you’ve started down that road to self-discovery, no matter how treacherous the path before you, you can’t turn back. The universe doesn’t allow it.”
— Lisa Unger
1. The scent of lavender and pine on a summer breeze.
2. Sitting under the cherry tree in the noon day sun, light filtering through the leaves like gold satin.
3. Fast-moving, shape-shifting clouds carving up the sky.
4. The premonition of rain in the air and when it falls, the softness on my skin. The way raindrops gather and trickle on the window pane making patterns. The way rain strengthens the colours of leaves and flowers.
5. The miraculous existence of rabbits.
6. Birds that sing at night.
7. The rhythm of the sea, white surf boiling up on the beach after a storm.
8. The cool smoothness of sea pebbles.
9. The darkness of forests, the dry crackle of twigs under foot.
10. Biting into a ripe nectarine, the juice trickling down my chin.
I can’t help notice the strange beauty of little things…
Before the onset of middle age and chronic caution, I often went out exploring the picturesque country lanes and tracks around the market town in North Yorkshire where I lived for ten years. I would forget my chores, ignoring housework and assignments and set off in my old maroon Volvo 340 with my collie-cross dog, Flossy in the back seat. Sometimes I took a picnic. I would drive around for hours out of curiosity. This resulted in a few scrapes such as getting stuck in mud, falling into ditches, trapped behind locked gates and lost on the moors. However, it was also the way I discovered wild and beautiful places hidden away off the beaten track. These were my secret places where I would go whenever I needed to recharge my energies.
One of these idyllic spots was by a crumbling stone bridge spanning a fast flowing stream and surrounded by a cluster of trees.
I would stay there all day, reading, dreaming and painting and see no-one at all other than birds, rabbits and the occasional fox. I felt completely relaxed and safe. Solitude to me is safety. My dog would run free, swim in the stream and then shake water all over me and my water colour pictures…often improving them in the process!
There was always a deep undisturbed silence free from the intrusion of traffic or human voices. In the silence my anxious thoughts would unravel into peace and optimism. I would start to think and see more clearly.
According to the OS Map it was possible to ford the stream at this point but I never had the courage to try. I never found out what lay on the other side of the water or where the track would eventually lead.
“Earth is crammed with heaven…
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes.”
— Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh.
Picking blackberries from hedgerows, making daisy chains, collecting acorns, playing conkers, wandering the fields looking for rabbits, daydreaming under a tree on a sunny day. These are the precious memories of my childhood when my relationship with animals and the natural world became an integral part of my imagination and personality. I was lucky enough to grow up in the late sixties before the age of parental paranoia and health and safety fanaticism. Children were allowed personal freedom to explore the world, test their bodies and minds, learn about risk, learn about the magic of nature. But times have changed. We live in an age of fear, much of it unfounded. Kids spend more time alone with their tablets than playing outdoors. I was sad to learn that the 2008 edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary aimed at children between the ages of 7 and 9 has omitted the following ‘nature’ words believing they are no longer relevant.
The obsolete words are catkin, brook, acorn, buttercup, blackberry, conker, holly, ivy, mistletoe. No doubt they have been replaced by technology words like database, spreadsheet, voicemail, pixel.
Contact and knowledge of the natural world are essential to a child’s artistic and spiritual development, be it poetry, visual art, music. How will future generations learn to cherish other living things and respect their environment if they don’t even have the right words?
I’ve been away for some time but I’m back, or at least for now. Apologies for my absence from Blogging World and the world in general. So far I’ve spent five weeks trapped in a small hospital room in Inverness following a fractured femur. Tragically my treatment has not gone according to plan. After the initial operations to repair the original fracture I have acquired another THREE broken bones in my legs due to careless handling and bad advice from Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists. And the worst news is that the fresh broken bones are not fixable. Any surgery could make things worst not better. No one seems to know what the prognosis is.
I’m trying to stay positive but it’s hard. I don’t know how much mobility or independence I will ever regain. It’s also hard not to be consumed with anger for the so-called experts in this hospital who have damaged me and are now trying to sweep their negligence under the carpet. I have not even had a proper apology or any acknowledgement that anything has gone wrong.
Anyway, when my mind is not fried by morphine, pain and exhaustion I will try to post here on The Purple Hermit and I hope my followers and supporters will understand.
“I seem to myself, as in a dream,
An accidental guest in this dreadful body.”
By Anna Akhmatova
I took this photo yesterday at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness where I’ve been incarcerated for several days after breaking my thigh bone and having surgery. The femur is the body’s largest bone. During the op they inserted a titanium plate and screws. There’s no point going on at length about the pain I’m in and the shocking inadequacy of the British Health Service which treats disabled patients as third class. But I will have plenty more to say when I return to normal life and internet.
This stained glass mural is situated in the main entrance corridor of the hospital. One of the few good things here!
Another morning and another perfect rose splashed
scarlet across Jane’s doorstep from a cloudless blue sky.
Such a cliche, hissed her sister through gritted teeth
as yet another infant bit down on her teat.
Jane smiled as she sliced lemons for the Earl Grey
and planned yet another glass vase from Habitat.
The petals faded and flaked like old newspaper.
When they found her she was lying on a bed of thorns.