Tuesday 26 March 2013

Small Visitations from a Winter-Dusted Equinox

A BLUE BRIGHT COLD DAWN blew in the other day. It was a surprise amid these endless fogged and drenched grey days of unspring. Chicklets under our eaves, gambolling lambs and dogged primroses are chirping out the fact of spring, their joys flitting over the Equinox and on through white-blanketed March, whilst we huddle indoors, disbelieving the daffodils and wondering what happened to the sun. 

This blue bright morning was beautiful though, and all etched in frost. Macha and I climbed the hill behind our house where you can see all across the valley of villages and out beyond onto Dartmoor. A mist crept in, silent and low, hanging between the hills and whispering over the roofs of the just-waking houses.

Frozen mornings trap beauty in a certain thrilling way. The ochres and browns of winter's trees and hedges hummed in patchworks around the shadow blues of iced fields. 

As the morning rose, the light pinked the far-off moors before it reached us.

There's a magnificent old sentinel pine tree on the hill behind our house, a homing land mark for getting lost on long rambles over the fields, and a memory-keeper for all that happens in the valleys below.

Macha and I stepped quietly through the dawning, smelling new things from the night, and looking down into the day shining crisply at our feet.

Other days have brought snows, which have dusted the toes of birches, the roofs of shacks and weighed heavy on the confused petals of spring.

On the rare days we have sun, it plays a game of chase with the frost across the thatched roof of our cottage, until the colder of them wins at the end of the day anyway.

There have been beautiful visitations at unexpected moments too. I encountered the swoop of a tawny owl one night as I drove home along a dark lane. It landed on a branch overhanging the road, and so I stopped and turned off the engine to watch it. It crouched there with something in its claws looking me directly in the eye. Then it flew off into the night, dropping the whateveritwas onto the road. I peered and noticed it moving. So I got out of the van and went over to find a baby rabbit, screaming, but apparently unhurt. I picked it up and took it home in my lap, where it crouched, the terrible screaming subsiding eventually. Once home, it almost met its end again after leaping from my lap and running to the darkest corner of the room where Macha leapt after it. Deciding that I wasn't going to be able to raise this little one myself, I took it outside in the dark to find a rabbit hole. It was small, and probably too young to survive alone. I don't know whether rabbits adopt young, but this one had already been flown far from its home, so I had to try. It sat still on my open palm for a while, sniffing the air. Then - hop, hop, hop - it bounced down the rabbit hole I'd found for it, and out of my story.

Another night brought a flitting-flapping floor-bound moth to the corner of my eye. It also nearly ended up as a dog-snack, but I held it for a while, its wings so light green and papery, they were almost an entirely new colour. I had a chance to remember this one with my camera before I released it to a night time of moon and owl silence.

The letterbox has also brought wonders from other shores, whilst we stay in by the fire as the winter refuses to withdraw her talons.
These beautiful hand-spun, hand-knitted sock masterpieces were knitted by Teleri Gray in Germany in return for some of my prints. I am so delighted by their intricacy and perfect fit, I almost can't bear to wear them and prematurely destroy the heels with my chicken feet! 

photo © Sylvia Linsteadt
And last but most surely not least, a wonder-tale through the mail, written by my amazingly talented word-magician friend Sylvia Linsteadt. This is part one of the Gray Fox Epistles, a fairytale-by-post project that she has created, and which you can sign up for too, at her blog. This first story is a retelling of the Celtic tale, The Children of Lir, and my goodness is it an artful and beautifully-wrought thing! Sylvia makes the land speak across centuries, and conjures a world so familiar to me, that it is all the more strange for it. 
The envelope arrived, all wrapped in wonder and the footprints of deer, and tucked inside were wild clover leaves, redwood needles and a single wild jackrabbit hair. Sylvia has magic in her quill, and I urge you all, each and every one, to sign up for her next story which will be a unique retelling of the Russian tale, Tsarevna Frog. One fine and not too distant day, our arts will share pages, but for that you shall have to wait...

The cold nights are still woodstove firelit and damp window-paned, and our days have been filled with the little plans of coming months. I have painted and drawn and begun preparing a new studio space which must be reached through a trapdoor (of that more anon), and Tom is deep in the gruelling last months of acupuncture studies. The truck awaits our dreams and hammers and nails still, as it crouches under its tarpaulin blanket until clearer skies come this way. Mythic midsummer exhibitions are in the cauldron. My ideas, as ever, tramp and stamp like a herd of snorting wild horses held at the end of a bunch of long tethers in my hand as the year marches on happily and strangely.


Nao Sims said...

Rima, you are magician of words yourself.

I cannot read one of your posts without a cup of something wonderful brewed and a fire going. Your words are not something to read "on the way by," but rather something to savor. They nourish and soothe and inspire all at the same time.

Sometimes I save your tales of the moor, I wait until just the right moment, until the pause at the end of a long day, after a hearty meal, under a night sky, when the farm is quite, except for the sound of frogs and owls.

All this is to say, thank you, your stories and paintings have the impact of a spell. They are soul stirring tapestries of poetry and enchantment. Thank you also for the Gray Fox Epistle tip, I am eagerly awaiting the next story!

Spring Blessings from Canada,

Solstice Yarns said...

So beautiful. I love reading your blog. Thankyou. :)

Ronnie (RR) said...

Your words are lovely to read, it's been such a cold winter yet your words make it magical. The socks look so cosy and comfy, just the thing for sitting beside the fire.

Jess said...

Your Dartmoor morning is so beautiful. When I see pictures like that I wish I was there right there and then. We've not seen any snow here but it's extremely cold nontheless!
I too look forward to your posts, to be transported to your magical world. Thankyou!xx

Heather said...

Another post full of poetry and beauty. Thankyou for sharing your world with us.

sarah said...

This is all so beautiful. I loved that you rescued the baby rabbit, and I loved that all you had to do is walk outside and look around in order to find a rabbit hole for its shelter. :-)

Melody said...

Everytime I read your posts, I find myself leaning in closer to screen ~ like I'm being magnetically pulled into your delightful world. Beautiful photos too. Melody :))

Sparkless said...

I always save your posts for when I have the time to sit down and appreciate every word and picture. You are an amazing artist!

femminismo said...

Absolutely lovely country. Your photos are excellent! From frost to fire! xxooxx

Johanna said...

Aaah - a deep breath after reading your beautiful words and looked again at your wondrous photos. I, too, cherish your posts with a glass of something special after a long day by my own hearthfire, surrounded by my 4 dogs, stretching my feet and thinking of how both our fires in the night look like stars fallen to earth seen from the eyes of an owl passing by overhead... (It would have to travel some distance though, for I am in an area in Germany with lots of forest, moor and wild land and few people!) Dartmoor will always hold a part of my soul though, left deliberately, offered freely to the beauty of the land and wild hills. Thank you again for bringing your magic-weaving words, thoughtful deeds and sparkling, inspiring musings onto a place that I can see from here.
Many, many blessings from my fire in the cold night to yours,

Lydia said...

A chilly but warming post, thank you.

I can see the rabbit in time to come will have children of his own all sat around him, wide-eyed and twitchy of whisker as he recounts the Great Tale. His fear of the soundless moment he was grabbed, a nibble of dandelion still between his teeth. His flight (where at this point his retelling becomes somewhat exaggerated as the winters pass, with scenes of the fields and valleys and of passing eagles to the point you almost believes he was steering the owl!) Then out of nowhere a kindly lady of the woods in her growling, moving tree (who knows what a rabbit thinks a car is?) she picked him up from the foot of Death to a great and wonderful life in the bunny hole he came to call his home. The story leads on to how he fell in love with his wife that very night when he almost got thumped by her for coming into her parents home at an ungodly hour smelling of owl and human and dog.

When reading your posts, and I do so with all the bated breath of opening a mysteriously wrapped present, I find that I feel stronger each time in my need to find my own little patch of peace somewhere far from the gray and lined,unending faces of the buildings of the city I live in. 'One day' I keep whispering to myself, but the little voice says it with such hope and conviction I do believe it to be telling the truth :)

You keep my hope and imagination ticking. A very needed thing in anyone but especially in a little artists soul, I thank you a hundred times over for this. Please never stop.

Ps sorry it was such a long ramble..

Linda said...

Your posts are so magical to read..You have such a way with words...I really enjoy sitting here with a cup of Chai & reading your adventures...I hope the little rabbit made it...:) Thanks for sharing..


Ms. said...

Hello dear one over there. Your mornings :trap beauty in a certain thrilling way" just as you do, with your camera, words and art. You enchant me again. I just shared this post at FB saying "Rima Stains just takes me elsewhere, a service I would say, one last look at the Winter turning to Spring in a land just over the pond and far far away....away, away then, come away to the Hermitage!"


gz said...

you seem to have had so little snow compared to our home in Ayrshire (we're hoping it will be gone for our return from NZ) and also to friends on the Preseli Hills in Pembrokeshire- they are now burning next October's firewood after weeks of -8 and less.
Beautiful socks..bartering is good!

Keep safe and warm

Em Parkinson said...

Hi Rima, today I am reminded what a small world it is. I received an email from Elizabeth Wix in New York suggesting I should check out your blog. She's a follower of mine and saw the Dartmoor connection. I don't think she realised quite how close we are geographically from what I can see from your photos! So pleased to have been directed your way. I love your work; so different from mine and it transports me back to fabulous childhood memories. Love the socks too. I look forward to following you. I would guess you probably know Danielle...best wishes, Em

Ciara Brehony said...

Oh I loved this post. Every bit of it.
As always, a gorgeous, winding tale, that took us by the hand, and led us far away, and I see from the previous comments I was not alone in this!
Thank you, dear Rima. x

yew tree nights said...

The east coast of Scotland has been a similar whirl of white mornings and green afternoons recently. Though I suppose that away from the coast in the mountains it is probably very snowy indeed.

This post was completely lovely, with all its wonderful words, wide frosty spaces, and lovely firelit nights. The snow shadow on the thatch is wonderful.

Wish Tom good luck for me. My mother studied Chinese medicine when I was younger. Which meant many trips to wonderful and pungent herb shops in ramshackle corners of Chinatown, daily examinations of my tongue... and also drawers full of needles as long as my arm and always the threat of being practiced on!

ann @ studiohyde said...

This Winter seems to be going on and on! Have loved seeing your photographs...Do hope the baby rabbit is okay, fingers crossed. Good luck to Tom and his studies. I had acupuncture on my knee some time ago and it helped a lot.

Deborah said...

Lovely post, as always :)
Thank you for sharing about your encounter with the owl and baby rabbit Rima - I had a very similar experience recently with a crow but thankfully the baby rabbit's mum was around to take her little one safely back to the burrow. I hope your little bunny has found a welcome in his new home.
Also, LOVE the socks - does your German friend sell these or were they made specially for you? My perpetually cold feet would feel very much at home in a pair...:)

Anonymous said...

Dear Rima,

such a wonderful post with wonderful pictures - as always. I like winter a lot, but in the past few weeks my love literally started to cool down. There are some foalfoot stems coming up on my way to the bus stop, but the rest of spring is still hiding somewhere behind the clouds and fog. Maybe the little rabbit found it and now they are sitting by the fire drinking hot caocao.

I'm sorry that I didn't answer you properly, my monitor broke a while ago and my laptop always gets a hickup when visiting your blog.
Thank you so much for the pictures of the socks. As soon as my working desk is whole again I will post them on my blog, too.

And to Deborah: "Her German friend" (that's me, I guess) does not sell knitwear on a regular base but if you are interested in something, you can contact me via my blog. I love crafting for other people :)

Deborah said...

Thanks Teleri, your work is beautiful :)