No matter the hour in Edinburgh, wherever you’re walking home from, whatever the season – hot or cold, wind or calm, there’s always something cheering and inspiring to see along the way. Among tonight’s gifts was the sight of a beautiful young fox, sleek and gorgeous, on the Royal Mile – perhaps too shy and certainly too fleet of foot to oblige with a photo.
I choose to light a candle – having chosen to turn off electric lamps tonight. It’s a choice I’ve often enjoyed making.
Tonight I light a candle for the brave ones, the good and courageous souls who hold on to hope with all their might and main though ‘the power’s down again,’ they’re chilled to the bone, and candlelight for them is a frightening necessity rather than a choice.
The professional photographer takes assignments from “without” … the creative photographer takes assignments from “within” … the conflict from assignments – from “without” versus those from “within” often perplexes the serious photographer
Ansel Adams: cited by Mark Nepo Things That Join The Sea And The Sky
I substituted ‘person’ for ‘photographer’ in my mind today as I pondered the various lenses through which we all ‘see’ things. In a world saturated by talk of social media, I wonder whether many of us might create some lovelier life-images (of ourselves, of others, of our environment, our beliefs, thought processes and so on) if we drew rather more upon inspiration from within than from without? Are we able to distinguish between conflicts arising from within and those from without? Do we exercise personal agency over what we consume – about what we’re being fed? Often perplexing indeed – but worth asking ourselves about daily, I think. Perhaps it’s a time of year thing, a ‘first frost’ thing – that brings Galway Kinnell to mind again and again: … for everything flowers from within (please see The Bud Stands For All Things)
Energy’s featuring in daily news has reminded me of the pleasure of evening candlelight in the last few weeks. There’s a deep silence in and around my Lakeland home at night, and the light of a single candle for company draws out a very particular kind of reflection and a quiet delight.
Poets, too, are crazed by light, How to capture its changes, How to be accurate in seizing What has been caught by the eye In an instant’s flash – Light through a petal, Iridescence of clouds before sunrise. They, too, are haunted by the need To hold the fleeting still In a design – That vermilion under the haystack, Struck at sunset, Melting into the golden air Yet perfectly defined, An illuminated transience.
Today my house is lost in milk, The milky veils of a blizzard. The trees have turned pale. There are no shadows, That is the problem – no shadows At all.
It is harder to see what one sees Than anyone knows. Monet knew, spent a lifetime Trying to undazzle the light And pin it down.
May Sarton Letters from Maine: New Poems, 1984
They, too, are haunted by the need / To hold the fleeting still / In a design
We cannot hold the fleeting still. That’s why, for us, time so often appears, inexplicably, to fly. And time between the 3rd November 2022 and tonight, the 19th November 2022, appears to me to have passed in the blink of an eye. Of course, I have flashing memories of a flu jab, dental treatment, a Covid vaccine booster, poems read, accounts enumerated, letters written and received, some loving conversations – about life, and about death, about love, and about grief: yes, of course. Yet still there’s a degree of unknowing, an inability to grasp time’s flight, and probably a need to step out, sometimes, for a while, from the paths of routine, simply to breathe ‘illuminated transience.’ Yes: there are times and spaces when It is harder to see what one sees / Than anyone knows.
This blog remains a steady friend to me – sometimes in daily conversations and at others, in much the same way as happens in many other relationships, by way of catch-up. Revisiting. Re-membering. Undazzling the light. This blog reminds me – encourages me – to recognise profound beauty in the daily journey, not just in the destination. This blog slows me down within the continuum, the quiet voice at my shoulder inviting me to love and to life. And with every blink of my eyes, with every breath breathed in and out, with every attempt to catch a fleeting thought, or to let a thought take flight, the view changes. Focus zooms in and out … harder to see what one sees / Than anyone knows …
But – Light through a petal – it’s OK to be moved only ever so slightly in the breeze: to stay awhile, to let all that is, within and beyond, tell us quietly what ungraspable time and life and love are really all about.
After a busy few days – torrential wind and rain yesterday, ‘flu jab, and returning to Lakeland from Edinburgh – all is calm and peaceful here this morning. I realise that I’ve just spent a silent half hour gazing at the ‘Slant of light.’
Emily Dickinson was reflecting on winter melancholy when she wrote thepoem There’s a certain Slant of light in 1861. Not for the first time, I’m finding her reflections can also illuminate delight. There’s a nip in the air but it’s certainly a good morning.
I don’t quite know why I am so enthralled by ever changing cloudscape and landscape, only that I am – and that watching the world around me has, throughout my life, kept me from that oft-complained-of state called boredom.
Every hour of every day and night something fresh and new appears before me. Tiny figures high on the Crags in front of my window here are people braving today’s stiff wind to marvel at the 360 degree view of Edinburgh and the gradual fading of the light …