Sunday, 27 December 2009

Written in Snow

We lay our images, our words on the almost-cloth of snow and compare them: this frozen stem; this pattern that once led to flowers, to seeds; this eruption of something other than whiteness. We break them from branches, pick them up from the floor, pass them between us. We say, 'The trees are like lightning.' Our voices are loud against the snow. The sounds move quickly, on huffish breath, carrying meaning.

'Like lightning, that's good.'

'Yes, that's good. I'll have that.'

We collect them in our pockets and take them home to pile in the kitchen beside the cooker and ashtray. On each stem and sound, the ice is already melting.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Spirits up

Perusing the journal of the original observer and interpreter of the woods and found this perfect description of why we chose to spend a day trudging through the snowy countryside:
Take long walks in stormy weather or through deep snows in the fields and woods, if you would keep your spirits up. Deal with brute nature. Be cold and hungry and weary.
Read the full entry for Christmas Day 1856 here:
The Blog of Henry David Thoreau: spirits up...Thoreau's Journal: 25-Dec-1856

I am coming down with the Solstice cold so am particularly grateful to be able to travel with Henry David through snowy Concord, Massachusetts, from the comfort of my bedroom. At my side: homemade ginger fudge, hot tea and mince pies, and a warm terrier. The sky is lightening and it has stopped raining. Perhaps I can muster a walk in the woods after all?

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Footprints on snow

photograph by Sian Thomas, © 2009
"To love with all one's soul and leave the rest to fate, was the simple rule she heeded. 'Vot zapomni' -- now remember -- she would say in conspiratorial tones as she drew my attention to this or that loved thing in Vyra -- a lark ascending the curds and whey sky of a dull spring day, heat lightning taking pictures of a distant line of trees in the night, the palette of maple leaves on brown sand, a small bird's cuneate footprints on the new snow. As if feeling that in a few years the tangible part of her world would perish, she cultivated an extraordinary consciousness of the various time marks distributed throughout our country place. She cherished her own past with the same retrospective fervour that I do now her image and my past. Thus, in a way, I inherited an exquisite simulacrum -- the beauty of intangible property, unreal estate..."

-- from 'Speak, Memory' by Vladimir Nabokov

Monday, 21 December 2009

21/12/09 - Winter Solstice Itinerary

Sunrise: 8.00am
Sunset: 3.54pm

Sunrise. Walk the boundaries of Parson's Wood and the old road. Be present. Listen to the stories being told by this ancient landscape. Rather than an effort to invoke the place, allow the place to evoke us.

Late morning. Walk across the iron bridge and out along the valley that lies between Little Trodgers and Pennybridge. Visit the site of a spring-fed well and the old College swimming pool.

After lunch, make water wheel.

Sunset. Back through the wood and out to the old furnace pond. Set our cardboard water wheel alight and float it through the tunnel. Fire marks the shortest day of the year - our hope that the sun will return. The wheel is a symbol of the turning of the year. Reversal. Rebirth.

Night of the solstice. Dinner and a private performance of the Sussex Mummers' play. In which St George slays the Turk - who is miraculously returned to life. Good cheer and carols.