Friday, May 9, 2014

Thinking aloud

We woke up early to the sound of the dawn chorus, tea was had and now two hours later, with the sun shining I contemplate the day.  The sounds outside are noisy with the starlings chattering to their young, they must have left the nest  and now these parents with a hint of fear in their voices call to their young. There is also a strong breeze which blows through the maple, the wind often rattles around the windows in the front shaking the curtains but today it takes the dark leaves of the maple and worries them.
This weekend a friend of LS is coming down from London, he is an American, living in Hawai and sells Japanese sake wine to the restaurants there. Slightly exotic to me, but his main charm is that he is friends with Gary Snyder, they, including LS, all lived and became monks for a time at the Ryosen-An temple.  Snyder's name always brings forth my favourite bit of a poem, he wrote....

Clearing the mind and sliding in
to that created space
a web of waters streaming over rocks,
air misty but not raining,
seeing this land from a boat on a lake
or a broad slow river,
coasting by.

This is how life always feels to me, all week I have been under the stress of a foolish worry, I want to rid myself of it but it plays constantly there,  the birds and the wind for a moment 'clear the mind' and I also slide into that 'created space' of nature, and as I go round making toast my mind drifts off to great dragonflies floating down in the old garden, territorially staking their claim, as they hover in the air great golden eyes staring into mine.
I have started  reading Derek Tangye's book, the flowers they once grew on the Cornish cliffs for selling in the market in the 60s.  Freesias, calendulas, daffodils and violets, and I am once again taken back to childhood and the smell of chyransatheums, the smell of autumn their great golden heads a mass of tiny petals.  Go into a supermarket today and we get flowers flown in from Africa, pretty enough if you like the look of artifical flowers, but those small bunches of violets and snowdrops that one could buy at the shop were the greater treasure. I love the bunches of dahlias you can still buy in summer at the greengrocer, a mass of colours, or the sweet williams in their ruff of leaves.
Just to add to my reading another book arrived last night, Du Maurier's Vanishing Cornwall  a celebration of the land she loved.."Here was the freedom I desired, long sought for, not yet known.  Freedom to write, to walk, to wander, freedom to climb hills, to pull a boat, to be alone....I for this, and this for me"
The world has moved on since Tangye and Du Maurier wrote their books, there are other nature writers filling the spaces they have left, a modern twist on nature not so tender, times change. To return to Snyder, who documented his thoughts through a modern American history, the time of Vietnam, and who despised his country for the destruction of its forests, rivers and plains, he wrote as an environmentalist, passionate about the natural world in all its forms.  For a moment he reminds me of Edward Thomas, and that great nonsensical poem which captures the perverse nature of our own long-lost country history, the poem called 'Lob'

And yet withal they shot the weathercock, just
Because ’twas he crowed out of tune, they said:
So now the copper weathercock is dead.
If they had reaped their dandelions and sold
Them fairly, they could have afforded gold.


  1. What a wonderful post. I was transported -- and on a day that I needed to be! Lovely writing...

  2. Welcome and thank you, but it was my usual muddled writing...

  3. A fascinating post, and mention of some of my favourite writers too. I began re-reading the Derek Tangye books last year, but refuse to pay £3 plus a time in Hay on Wye for very very tatty little paperbacks, so wait until they turn up again.

  4. The Tangye books are coming out again Jennie, reading about the donkeys at the moment, little Fred stealing someone's hat and rushing around in high delight whilst the furious owner of said hat cursed the little foal...