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August 2012

July 2012

Up on the moor

Sheep on Dartmoor

“People talk about medium. What is your medium? My medium as a writer has been dirt, clay, sand -- what I could touch, hold, stand on, and stand for -- Earth. My medium has been Earth. Earth in correspondence with my mind.”   - Terry Tempest Williams (from Finding Beauty in a Broken World)


“I'm an Earth ecstatic, and my creed is simple: All life is sacred, life loves life, and we are capable of improving our behavior toward one another. As basic as that is, for me it's also tonic and deeply spiritual, glorifying the smallest life-form and embracing the most distant stars.”  - Diane Ackerman (from An Alchemy of Mind)


“The truest art I would strive for in any work would be to give the page the same qualities as earth: weather would land on it harshly, light would elucidate the most difficult truths; wind would sweep away obtuse padding. Finally, the lessons of impermanence taught me this: loss constitutes an odd kind of fullness; despair empties out into an unquenchable appetite for life.”  - Gretel Ehrlich (from The Solace of Open Spaces)


“It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery, but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between.”  - Diane Ackerman (from A Natural History of the Senses)

DartmoorThe soundtrack for this post: "On a Dartmoor Day" by Chris Back

Tunes for a Monday Morning

The first song today is an atmospheric rendition of the English ballad "Reynardine," performed by the amazing Anglo-Indian singer Sheila Chandra. Chandra uses the drone sound to great effect in her music; you can read her thoughts about drones, crones, and the creative process here

The second song is "Faroe Island, My Mother," a tune rooted in the ancient Faroese ballad tradition, sung by Eivør Palsdottir, with Gustaf Ljunggren on guitar. You'll have to journey over to YouTube to hear it, however, because I'm unable to import the video.  You'll find it here.

Eivør is a singer/songwriter from Syðrugøta, one of the oldest settlements in the Faroese archipelago. She performs in Faroese, Danish, and English, with a repertoire ranging from Scandinavian folk to jazz, classical, and pop.


The art and joy of words

Meldon Hill and Kestor

"A writer is a person who cares what words mean, what they say, how they say it. Writers know words are their way towards truth and freedom, and so they use them with care, with thought, with fear, with delight. By using words well, they strengthen their souls. Story-tellers and poets spend their lives learning that skill and art of using words well. And their words make the souls of their readers stronger, brighter, deeper." - Ursula K. Le Guin (from "A Few Words to a Young Writer")

Between Meldon and Nattadon Hills

“Words should wander and meander. They should fly like owls and flicker like bats and slip like cats. They should murmur and scream and dance and sing.”  - David Almond (from My Name is Mina)

Nattadon Hill

“If you say a word, it leaps out and becomes the truth. I love you. I believe it. I believe I am loveable. How can something as fragile as a word build a whole world?” ― Franny Billingsley (from Chime)


"Child, to say the very thing you really mean, the whole of it, nothing more or less or other than what you really mean; that's the whole art and joy of words.” ― C.S. Lewis (from Till We Have Faces)


There are hundreds of ways...

Nattadon Hill, Devon

"As a poet I hold the most archaic values on earth . . . the fertility of the soil, the magic of animals, the power-vision in solitude, the terrifying initiation and rebirth, the love and ecstasy of the dance, the common work of the tribe. I try to hold both history and the wilderness in mind, that my poems may approach the true measure of things and stand against the unbalance and ignorance of our times.”   - Gary Snyder

Nattadon Hill, Devon

"Along with the other animals, the stones, the trees, and the clouds, we ourselves are characters within a huge story that is visibly unfolding all around us, participants within the vast imagination, or Dreaming, of the world.”   - David Abram

Boundary marker, Nattadon Hill

“As symbol, or as the structuring of symbols, art can render intelligible -- or at least visible, at least discussible -- those wilderness regions which philosophy has abandoned and those hazardous terrains where science's tools do not fit. I mean the rim of knowledge where language falters; and I mean all those areas of human experience, feeling, and thought about which we care so much and know so little: the meaning of all we see before us, of our love for each other, and the forms of freedom in time, and power, and destiny, and all whereof we imagine: grace, perfection, beauty, and the passage of all materials to thoughts, and of all ideas to forms.”  - Annie Dillard


Meldon Hill, Devon

“Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” ― Rumi

A soul hidden in everything

Green lane

“How it is that animals understand things I do not know, but it is certain that they do understand. Perhaps there is a language which is not made of words and everything in the world understands it. Perhaps there is a soul hidden in everything and it can always speak, without even making a sound, to another soul.”  - Frances Hodgson Burnett (from A Little Princess)

A green lane in Devon

My prayer this morning: Let me learn the language of trees, birds, dogs, grey stones, black beetles, green grass, and all living things. And when I'm fluent in those languages, let me translate them faithfully into stories and paintings.