Aromatic air

Photo by freddie marriage on Unsplash

It is raining. I look out on the maple, where a few leaves have turned yellow, and listen to Punch, the parrot, talking to himself and to the rain ticking gently against the windows.

May Sarton
Journal of a Solitude

It was a white world yesterday. A dark green / brown smudge of a world today. And it might well have been a parrot quietly talking to himself as, already soaked, I marched up the hill, grateful for absence of ice.

‘Weather’ – actual and metaphorical – changes our perspective on everything, every day. Seasons and their reasons touch our lives anew. Warm sunlight quickly conjures one kind of wellbeing, wind and rain will freshen the air we’re breathing, ice and snow turn landscape into wonderland – at least for a while, and home’s warmth and hot chocolate raise a smile.

Twenty or more years ago I read one of the most beguiling openings to a novel. One that I’ve never forgotten since. It’s simple and descriptive – but more than that, there’s a deep noticing, deep awareness, and therein lies the promise of seasons, the perpetual invitation to breathe deep and to be fully ALIVE in each one:

The church bell, cracked and faint, struck seven as Anna opened her eyes. She closed them again, and waited for the second bell to chime, three minutes later. Then she got out of bed and pushed open the shutters of her window. High up in the air, swallows hawked lazily across the pale blue dome of the sky. A cool breeze, smelling of thyme and wood-smoke, flowed over her bare shoulders and she stretched her arms over her head and inhaled deeply, filling her lungs with the aromatic air.

From her high window, she looked down over the roofs of the village, across the vineyards and cherry orchards towards the grey-green rolling country of the garrigue, with the pale lavender, jagged outline of the Cévennes in the distance …

Elizabeth Falconer
The Golden Year

Yes. Raining this morning. But this afternoon, tomorrow, next Spring and Summer? Anna opened her eyes. She closed them again, and waited …

Silence and stillness

Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash

Last night, an owl
in the blue dark
tossed
an indeterminate number
of carefully shaped sounds into
the world, in which, 
a quarter of a mile away, I happened
to be standing …

Mary Oliver
from Snowy Night

There’s been a hushed stillness here today. My morning walk gave way to a post-thaw amble after dark. I’ve been pondering the ‘power’ of a perfectly symmetrical snowflake * which, in company with millions of others like it, can quieten wide spaces and bring about a stillness that nothing else can. Ordinary human activity is disrupted and it’s not without reason, I think, that we’re sometimes awestruck by the sound of silence (and occasional hooting) that accompanies falling snow. Thoughts give way to quietened wonder … and – as Mary Oliver goes on to ask …

aren’t there moments
that are better than knowing something,
and sweeter? 


* see ‘Symmetry of Snowflakes’ by Ian Stewart, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics and Digital Media Fellow, Faculty of Science in the University of Warwick

Sources of joy

Keeping a small personal record of experiences, people, places and things that bring me joy is one of the chief reasons for the existence of this blog. In 2021 the magical city of Edinburgh has been a source of almost unquantifiable delight. It’s a place where it is – quite simply (and yet, of course, profoundly) great to be alive …

I will leave the light on

Photo by ROHAN KULKARNI on Unsplash

I will leave the light on

Tom Walker

I think this is a wonderfully striking photo. It immediately reminded me of Tom Walker’s image of a house on a hill ‘guiding like a lighthouse’

The light left on here is probably accidental – but a happy one in terms of imagery. Which car are you drawn to? Which appears to have some life about it? Which might you expect to be warm inside?

Can we leave our personal light on? On purpose?

Yes, everything

Photo by Alex Gruber on Unsplash

click on all images once / twice to enlarge

They said ‘You have a blue guitar,
You do not play things as they are.’
The man replied, ‘Things as they are
Are changed upon the blue guitar.’

Wallace Stevens
The Man With The Blue Guitar

I’m slightly coy (I don’t know why) about admitting that since yesterday’s post – ‘The bud stands for all things’ – I’ve continued hour upon hour to be entranced by the idea of the imaginable – of design, of Galway Kinnell’s ‘everything flowers from within.’

I mean, imagine repeating that to young children, from as early as possible: that what comes forth from people’s imaginations – their own ‘designs for life’ included – are, often and literally, among the great wonders of the world.

And then imagine that being repeated in adult lives, over and over again, a repetition that would forever stretch their own imaginations: that you continue to have endless possibilities for creativity, in every second of your life, if you will hear the sometimes quiet voice of your imagination.

And then imagine really believing this yourself / myself. The thought sets heart and mind and soul alight: indeed our very bodies react to it. We know that our capacity for imagination is without limits – and we want to get on with the creative business of imagining some more.

Every single image in this carefully curated collection today contains dozens (at least!) of design elements that started out life in imagination, human, or that of The Great Imagination, flowering from within.

If you’ve time today, or in the next day or so, make a cup of something warming. Sit down with it and then spend a couple of minutes with each of these photographs. What’s going on in your imagination as you stay with them? Can you feel energising welling up? Warmth? Wonder? Delight? Which stir you most? What sights, sounds, people, animals, come to mind? What new moments are you going to design, to bring into the light, by the time you’ve finished your hot chocolate? May the joy of your own design flower from within you – today.

Photo by Jan Kopřiva on Unsplash
Photo by Christian Bowen on Unsplash
Photo by Ally Griffin on Unsplash
Photo by XPS on Unsplash
Photo by Billy Jo Catbagan on Unsplash
Photo by Gabs | Artist on Unsplash
Photo by Amanda Dalbjörn on Unsplash
Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash
Photo by Alessandro Bianchi on Unsplash
windinmywheels.com
Photo by JOHN TOWNER on Unsplash

The bud stands for all things

The bud
stands for all things,
even for those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers from within

Galway Kinnell
St Francis and the Sow

Morning mist and sharp frost, keeping company with the Moon set in a deep blue sky. I’m glad I remembered my gloves. And I notice the life-channelling veins in leaves, and berries galore, and toadstools, and that a pheasant in the field appears to be meditating. And buds. I notice buds: now, at this time of the year, on this frosty Autumn morning, as though certain elements of life simply can’t wait to get on with living – risk of being nipped notwithstanding.

I took off a glove and hovered my warm hand over the ice crystals settled on one of them – I don’t know what kind. The ice melted, of course, and I wondered and wondered about how ‘everything flowers from within.’ And felt very tender …

As Galway Kinnell continued:

… sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on the brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within …

The bud stands for all things … everything flowers from within.

see also: Yes, everything revisited

Mind-clearing

… to look out of my window at the high pass
makes me indifferent to mirrors and to what
my soul may wear over its new complexion

Fleur Adcock
Weathering

Yesterday, 10 degrees Celsius. This morning, a bracing, mind-clearing 2! But bracing and mind-clearing are good things, aren’t they?

It’s good to be awake enough to notice the changes that the passing hours, in every day, in each season, bring. There’s so obviously a ‘designed’ purpose and intent in the innumerable cycles of life and death on earth, and in us – mind, heart, body and soul.

It’s also true that most of us – all of us? – are less keen on the bracing elements and the ‘dyings’ in the midst of life; less keen on the being blown about – sometimes even brought to the ground – by capricious winds; less keen on shock or surprise; less keen on streaming eyes and having forgotten our gloves; less keen on ‘Weathering.’

But the thing about a bracing morning is that our minds are cleared sufficiently to recall that there’s actually extraordinary beauty in the right here and the right now, and – beyond this season – that Spring will come …

Somewhere …

Mildly chastising myself for being out and about later today – and having missed my sunrise walk – suddenly, in the way of these things, this came into view. And all the mind chatter was hushed.

‘Ours is not to reason …’ And indeed, always – and happily – there’s a new ‘Somewhere …’

And later in the day: another ‘rainbow’ …

Rounded or sharp?

Joy isn’t some superfluous extra. It’s directly connected to our fundamental instinct for survival. On the most basic level – the drive toward joy is the drive to toward life

Ingrid Fetell Lee

Within the space of an hour last evening I was in touch with two friends who were observing the Moon. One on the other side of the Atlantic – planning to set a 3am alarm in the hope of seeing the longest partial lunar eclipse in 600 years, and the other North of me in the UK, moon-watching through the winter-limbs of a favourite tree.

And I was here, pondering the effect of la Luna upon vast ocean tides, and upon me … ‘peace …’, ‘strong but gentle pull’, ‘mellow light’, ‘sonata’, ‘spaciousness’, ‘awareness of the here and now’, ‘conscious, though inexplicable, delight.’

Are you drawn to the sharp and angular? Or to curvy, colourful, expressive, soft and round? How, for you, does joy look and sound? If any of these questions are of the slightest interest to you, when and wheresoever you may be, please meet Ingrid Fetell Lee – and keep on meeting, as often as you may need …

.

see also: Joyful: the surprising power of ordinary things to create extraordinary happiness : Ingrid Fetell Lee

Extraordinary wonder

Photo by Hans Isaacson on Unsplash

Whether it’s the mind-stretching symmetry in the construction of individual snowflakes, or the paintings created everywhere in this season by fallen leaves, or sunlight on ocean waves, daffodils in Spring, sunrise, full moon, starry sky, or the colour and pattern in the iris of your eye – this world is an extraordinary creation! And all this came to mind in the course of my morning stretch and walk. Our minds, too, being nothing less than a wonder …

Sunrise

I watch the sunrise
Lighting the sky
Casting its shadows near
And on this morning
Bright though it be
I feel those shadows
Near me

John Glynn

A loved family member left this world yesterday – and I try to imagine reunions – impossible though it be to imagine the omnipresent Love that I believe must abide, both here and beyond our experience in this world. John’s late wife was my cousin – someone who tousled my hair, always smiling, encouraging and cheering me through the trials and joys of youth; she loved sunrise. So my morning walk today was … well, how can I say? … doubly special. Go well, John x

I see (and was seen)

And there’s one called soft square …

ZA

Today’s shout out is for my optometrist and his colleague, a dispensing optician. I’ve been concerned, for a while now, about continuing eyesight problems after treatment for a retinal tear. And you know how it is: the things that go on in our heads!

Well, suffice to say, after a very thorough and highly educational optometry consultation this morning, followed up by advice and encouragement from the dispensing optician, I walked out of their premises with a spring in my step. And the words of the day are: ‘reassured’ and ‘new glasses’. Soft square is the style of the new specs – not, actually, a description of me!

I’ve been thinking since about how hugely important are the people in our lives who provide us with support and reassurance. In the midst of what was a very busy morning for both my advisors, I nonetheless felt seen, heard and encouraged as though I were the only person they needed to see today. That’s priceless. And deeply appreciated.

Reassurance is something we all have opportunities to provide that – sometimes – we’re uniquely qualified’ to offer. I shall hope to be able to make someone else feel as good as the entire team at EEC made me feel this morning. Thank you!