Previous month:
August 2010
Next month:
October 2010

September 2010

Flying off again. . .

The-Fostlering
I'm off on the first leg my transAtlantic travels today, heading back to the States for the first time in two years. It's hard to believe that it's been so long. I'll post from the road if I can . . . and gather pictures, thoughts, and stories along the way, filling my pockets with such treasures to carry back home to the Devon hills.

I always grumble before the start of a trip, for I hate pulling away from the quiet rhythms of my studio when I'm in a good working groove. But once I'm on the road I remember that travel, too, is good for writing and art. It interrupts the work, but it feeds it.

No doubt I'll come back home, as I aways do, bursting with stories to tell.

 


The changing seasons

The village in autumn

The days are getting colder, and the nights are colder still. The bracken on the hills is turning to rust, the rowan trees are heavy with berries, and mushrooms cluster on the woodland paths, showing where small fairy feet have danced.

 

Toadstools on the path

 

It's been such an abundant blackberry season that there are still berries to be found among the brambles, and Tilly still delights in feasting on them whenever we walk on the paths behind the house...

Blackberry Picking

Blackberry Picking 2

...but soon the blackberries, too, will go. The leaves are turning, and they soon will fall. It's time to get the chimney sweep in, stock up on wood and coal, get the wools and thermals out of storage in the attic. Winter is coming. The seasons are changing. And it's all dammas (as Crow in The Wood Wife would say); it's all good.

Leaping pup


Tunes for a Monday morning



I'm back in the office, but only very briefly before heading off again on a 3-week business trip on Wednesday. In the meantime, I've lots of mail to catch up on, a dog to cuddle, and suitcases to pack for the upcoming trip. Devon is particularly beautiful right now, making me want to put the suitcases away and stay put with my dog and husband and painting studio (not necessarily in that order!)...but duty calls. As does the Sirens Conference, where I'll be in a couple of weeks, and where perhaps I'll see some of you.

The video above is of the Canadian folk duo Dala performing "Horses" -- and it goes out to fellow Dala fan Amal El-Mohtar. (It's lovely to have you back on this side of the ocean, Amal!)

My favorite Dala song is their haunting rendition of "Ohio" (Neil Young's famous anthem about the Kent State shooting, which is an all-too-potent childhood memory for those of us of A Certain Age) -- but I thought such a gloomy song might be too odd a choice for this lovely autumn day. (It's absolutely terrific, however, and you can see Dala perform it here.)

Speaking of Amal, I've been meaning for a long while now to mention her gorgeous new book, The Honey Month  -- which is so damn good it takes my breath away. It's on a long list of things that I'd intended to write proper posts about (a list that's growing longer every week), but alas, time has been in remarkably short supply in our house lately. So I'll do the next best thing: send you to the Papaveria Press website, where I highly recommend that you order a copy for yourself. The Honey Month is absolutely . . . delicious.

Honeymonth21

(Midori Snyder's review of The Honey Month is here.)


Flying off. . .

Bird Mother & Lost Child
                       Bird Mother and Lost Child

 

I'm away for the next ten days, but will return with pictures to share and tales to tell.

In the meantime, here are some magical corners of the web to explore
(if they're not already part of your cyber rambles . . . ):

 

Claire Massey's The Fairy Tale Cupboard

Katherine Langrish's Seven Miles of Steel Thistles

Pam Grossman's Phantasmaphile

Goblin Fruit (mythic poetry journal) Cabinet des Fees: A Journal of Fairy Tales

Heidi Anne Heiner's SurLaLune Fairy Tales blog

The Fairy Tale Review print journal (the "Red Issue" is now out)

Magpie Magazine: New Folk in Words, Music, & Art Lazy Gramophone and Letters from Schwarzville
(with thanks to Rima Staines for those links)

Imagery by Susan Kae Grant (with thanks to Kelly Link for that one)

Lori Field's Saints,Warriors, Tigers, Lovers, Flowers, Art

Fay Ku's Works on Paper

Ruthie Reddon's Five Precious Things

Ulla Norup Milbrath's Ullabenulla

Danielle Barlow's Notes from the Rookery (here in Devon)
Jackie Morris' Drawing a Line In Time &
We Three, Ginger Cats Tales (from Wales)

Mo Orkiszewski's newly completed Illuminated Book of Cats

The Beautiful Necessity (for all things Pre-Raphaelite) Jen Parrish's Parrish Relics (for things you'll covet) The Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab (via the vixens at Goblin Fruit) Other good links can be found listed here.

Sunday Walk

Belstone 4

Howard, Victoria, Tilly and I celebrated Tilly's anniversary yesterday with a long walk through the ancient hills of Dartmoor. Victoria (who's off to school and work in London soon) was the one who picked the route: her favorite piece of moorland near the tiny village of Belstone.

Me & Victoria & Tilly

We followed a stream through moorland hills . . . and Tilly, of course, had a little swim . . . .

Dartmoor stream

Into the water

Belstone 3

There were sheep on the moor, which gave Howard the opportunity to do some more essential training with the pup. This is sheep farming country, and chasing sheep is a thing she must learn to never, ever do.

Sheep-training

Sheep training

Dartmoor sheep

We carried on under a glorious September sun, with Tilly close to heel when sheep were near. Eventually the shadows grew long around us . . .

The Dartmoor hills

. . . and it was time to think about heading home . . .

Belston 1

. . . with a very wet and very happy Tilly, for whom it had been a Most Excellent Day.

Tilly & me

Howard with our very wet pup

Howard-Tilly-Victoria


The long sleep of trees . . .

Treechild

 

This "Tree Child" is posted in memorium for my friend Kenneth Ashburner: scientist, writer, and musician; a leading authority on birch and alder trees; and the creator, with his wife June, of the beautiful Mythic Gardens on the outskirts of our village. He grew a bit of magic in the hills of Devon, and will be deeply missed. A memorial celebration is being held in Kenneth's birch and alder aboretum today; and a charity is being formed to keep the arboretum, seed collection, and Mythic Garden going.


I woke up to this outside the window this morning....

Double rainbow over the Devon hills

When I was 15, I sat in despair one day in a creaky old bus that was winding its way through central Mexico (that's another story),  trying to decide if I truly believed in God. Not necessarily God with a big white beard looking down from a Biblical heaven, but some kind of sacred spirit above, beneath, and within all things. I'd aways had a deep, instinctive faith (even as a small child) in a sacred dimension to life,  a Mystery I didn't need to fully define in order to know it, feel it, experience it. But recent grueling events had shaken my faith and closed that connection.

Now, I realize that sitting and railing at God is practically a cliche of teenage angst; that doesn't make the experience any less urgent at age 15, and I was in a dark place. "Okay," I said, throwing the gauntlet down to whatever out there might be listening, "if there is something more than this, then prove it. Just prove it. Or I quit."  The bus turned a corner on the narrow, dusty road, and a gasp went up from the people around me. Above us, a rainbow arched through a bright blue, cloudless, rainless desert sky.

Rainbows have been special to me ever since. I know the scientific explanation, of course, water and air and angles of sunlight and all that. But to me, they are always a message. They say: "The universe is a Mystery and you're part of it." And sometimes that's all I need to hear; that's all the answer I need, no matter what the prayer.