THERE IS A KNOT in my heart made of old string, melting snow and hesitant birdsong.
I cannot tell you its tale, for it is far too sad. But I will tell you some things I have been thinking these last days of quiet...
I have been thinking of home and what that means to me and to all others.
For me, I must build my nest of beautiful sticks and have that always to return safe to. I believe that if we surround ourselves with that which we find beautiful, then the air in our homes will humm with our unique magic, a magic that is smelt by visitors and which is ours alone. How interesting the different feelings we get on entering the homes of others. How warm or cold or unnerving or welcoming they can feel. Some folks can sofa-hop happily, but not I. I must have my ephemera and imagery about me. In stretching yourself out as far as your walls, you are making a place which affirms your vision whenever you sit in it.
I have been thinking of journeys and of the pot-holed roads down which those journeys wind. My own journey has brought me in the most beautiful home I have ever had to a village in Dartmoor which I felt on arrival was itself home, and so, for now, my hat will rest here. There is a sixteenth century cottage with uneven floors that is to become my home in a few weeks' time. I must gather all my selves from all the ends of the dripping tree branches where I have hung them and bundle them up in a cloth bag along with books and paints and pots and pans, and start down this new fork in the road with a set jaw and a pocketful of tears.
The road is still muddy of course, from where the snow has melted, and it is uphill too I see. There may be wheels again further down this road, for I do love them so, but for now I must just put one foot in front of the other.
I have been thinking of the stories we tell of our lives, stories for those we know and stories for those we do not. I have wound out for you this story right here like a ball of string down a long long road. You have seen my life, though of course only a ladleful from the top of the soup. I love to tell you stories, true though they are, they are my tale... my life painted as in my pictures. You people whose unknown friendship I treasure, cannot share in all the pains of my real life. I have agonised over how to write, how to be true and yet hidden. You are a sea of strangers, and yet you are also each and every one of you a single person, a me, a someone with hurts and joys of your own, who thrills at walking in step with another through this strangest of media.
I have been thinking of winter and of the spring that follows all the same. How I find such beautiful in the snow, and its grey-hushed land-blanket. How it can all disappear in just one day if the air is warm enough, and a view is transformed. How life changes with the seasons and how much solace there is amongst the trees.
It is a new year, a new decade in a still new century, and January is nearly gone.
Soon I will show you the paintings I have been making of late, and in time pictures of my new walls, but for now, forgive me if I am quiet or overwhelmed, or if I give you poems that talk of loneliness...
by Mary Oliver
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.