In praise of re-reading
Solitude à deux

Nature's gift to the walker


Details from Unity by Marja Lee Kruyt

From To the River: A Journey Beneath the Surface by Olivia Laing, in which the author walks the River Ouse in Sussex from its source to the sea:

Unity by Marja Lee Kruyt"It was a day of uplift. Everything was rising or poised to rise, the mating dragonflies crashing through the air, the meadow browns clipping sedately by....

"I was getting into one of those trances that come from walking far, when the feet and the blood seem to collide and harmonise. Funnily enough, Kenneth Grahame and Virginia Woolf both wrote in praise of these uncanny states, which they thought closely allied to the inspiration writing required. 'Nature's particular gift to the walker,' Grahame explained in a late essay, 'through the semi-mechanical act of walking -- a gift no other form of exercise seems to transmit in the same high degree -- is to set the mind jogging, to make it garrulous, exalted, a little mad maybe -- certainly creative and supra-sensitive, until at last it really seems to be outside you and as it were talking to you, while you are talking back to it.'

"As for Woolf, she wrote dreamily of chattering her books on the crest of the Downs, the words pouring from her as she strode, half-delirious, in the noon-day sun. She compared it to swimming or 'flying through the air; the current of sensations & ideas; & the slow, but fresh change of down, of road, of colour: all this is churned up into a fine sheet of perfect calm happiness. It's true I often painted the brightest of pictures on this sheet: & often talked out loud.' "

Chattering her prose. I do that too. Thank heavens there's only Tilly to hear me as we roam the hills on these bright summer days.

To the River by Olivia Laing

To the River by Olivia Laing

ChatteringThe beautiful painting above is by my good friend and Chagford neighbor Marja Lee Kruyt.


Walking books into existence I think is one of the best ways of making a story. For me it works for both poetry and prose and even pictures will paint themselves on the canvas of a ramble.

And as for in Leicester the Soar flows through a post industrial landscape that is slowly (very slowly) regaining something of what beauty it must have had before the factories and mills crowded its banks. But beneath the brick and concrete of commerce, its history and mythology are still as vibrant as they ever were: King Lear is supposedly buried somewhere under its flow, and before Richard III was recently found under a nearby car park, it was thought his body had been thrown into its waters after the battle of Bosworth. And another King, Charles I, rode over its bridges and declared that he didn't care if Leicester's citizens were badly treated by his soldiers, after the city was captured in the civil war (a statement that drove General Fairfax to chase him across the land and defeat him at the battle of Naseby). And in St Mary De Castro, a church that looks down on the river's waters, Geoffrey Chaucer was married in 1366, and I'm almost sure that the inspiration for the Wife of Bath walked the streets of the city at the time, because she certainly does today!

And now I hear whispers that the slowly cleaning waters of the Soar are home to otters once again out in the wilds of the surrounding countryside. Perhaps this river's journey is taking us on to a cleaner, brighter place. As Olivia Lang says: 'A river has a destination and there's something about the certainty with which it travels that makes it very soothing'

I've been discovering the wonders if this kind of walking over the past few months. How, if I go out there for long enough, all of the things I'm worrying about will melt away. The path ahead will open out, winding back down the other side of the mountain, and life, fire and inspiration all cut clean through me.

I find that kind of walking to be filled with all kinds of synchronicity, too. I've been thinking and writing about that over the last few days. So this is another one of those strokes of synchronicity too, I suppose :)

Walking in nature is always exciting. Full of surprises and discoveries...
What a beautiful painting!! And a wonderful post, reminding that Nature is a teacher, a friend, a treasure, an endless source of inspiration and joy. And happinwess. For everyone.
Here's the dragonfly I met in a small village last year... They are probably from the same family:)

As a long time fan of dragonflies, which are hugely personally symbolic to me and my husband, I have to say that this painting by Marja Lee Kruyt is utterly stunning.

Good to have you back, Terri. And to see dear Tilly's sweet face again too.

Beautiful dragonfly photos and a lovely post, Rossichka!

I'm reminded of the following writing advice from Hilary Mantel:

"If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to ­music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people’s words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient."

Thank you!:) Meeting a dragonfly happens so rarely...

A great post from Terri, and Stuart, thank you for writing this. It's lovely, and though I do not know Leicester well, my mother used to live there.

so happy, you are writing here, again...


So happy to see you return.....I had just found you before you left.....I appreciate y,our words so much!

Thank you, Liz. I think the citizens of 'The-Lost-City-Of-Leicester' are beginning to wake up to the wonderful history and local mythology they have. Perhaps they should begin a campaign to get the Royal Shakespeare Company to spend a season there and perform the two plays (King Lear and Richard III) that are so closely associated with this sadly neglected city

I'm a birder, so am out walking in nature a lot, but it's a different kind of walking than described here. I have a "local patch", a 75-acre nature reserve with a mile-long loop trail that meanders through trees, prairie grass, ponds, marsh, and alongside a lake. I know this place intimately after years of walking it day in and day out, all seasons, and as I walk, the mental chatter tends to shut down while the senses heighten, attentive to all natural movements and sounds. It's a very mindful style of walking in nature.

There are lots of dragonflies and damselflies there now, though nothing as stunning as that first picture. I don't think we get anything that gorgeous here in the Pacific Northwest.

I had no idea about the local link to Chaucer. Thank you Stuart. The others I did know but always nice to hear the tales told again.

Hi Teri

I have always felt a walk in the woods, field, desert, ect. fuels both the human mind and spirit. I think if we listen and absorb what we see, hear and sense, we are filled with a momentary awakening to things we did not think of or know before. It heightens our consciousness and motivates our need to express what we have experienced. Dragonflies have always been symbols of wisdom and spiritual journeying to me. I grew up in the countryside of New York State and spent many hours observing them on our back yard pond. Recently, I had a poem published in The Yellow Medicine Review
which reflects on the insight and adaptability of the insect as seen through the perspective of The Native Wise woman. I think it fits in with today's blog theme, so I thought I would share it with you.

The Seer

(The old woman to her apprentice.)

you are given
dragonfly wings
to skim the lake –

its full reflection.

Perceive all things
but mourn none.
You can’t change them
only watch, witness.

And don’t ask why
ask where;

then land
on a willow leaf
and let the wind
point its compass

in whatever

So good to have you back, Terri! I hope things have settled into place and the "big life stuff" has dissolved into manageable, minor things. Please continue to take care of yourself. And thank you for this extraordinary entry with text and fabulous pictures.

My best

Hi Stuart,

I love this opening quote of yours -

"Walking books into existence I think is one of the best ways of making a story.." And I totally agree with its concept. I also thoroughly enjoyed this narrative about the legendary past of Leceister and The Soar River and its inspirational qualities. What a marvelous place to visit, walk or live. Thank you for sharing these impressions.


Hi Rossichka

These photos ( on your blogsite) are breathtaking!! And the ones of the dragonfly, mesmerizing. I love the angle at which you captured this unique creature. They are magical and encountering them is truly a joy!

Thank you for giving us the link and sharing your images.

Alas, Wendy, Leicester's history and legends are more beautiful than the modern city by far. In reference to the Second World War, (when Leicester was hit by air raids only a few times), there's a local saying something along the lines of "The city-planner did more damage than the Luftwaffe ever did." Which basically means the local city Council demolished and destroyed many of our fine historical buildings in the horrendous push for modernity that happened in the 1960's. And that even includes the Blue Boar Inn where Richard III slept the night before the Battle of Bosworth!!!

Yes, to a lady called Philippa De Roet, apparently. Did you also know that Leicester has the dubious honour of being one of the first places to use hand granades!? They were thrown during the attempt to defend the city from the Royalist thugs during the civil war.

Okay, TW, this is genuinely weird. I just related a story on my blog featuring a dragonfly... it was, in fact, the only somewhat positive element in the entire scenario. I come here, and what do I find but a lovely blue, dragonfly... with text running (essentially) counterpoint to my own... featuring a faerie, no less!

In terms of the power of prose to uplift, of course, you win this accidental "competition" hands down. Like May Sarton (in your wonderfully profound previous post) I'm variably (and, no doubt, pathologically) inclined to have a darker view.

However, I can envision a metaphorical mash-up, and this is how it goes: All the anonymous drivers of those "snarling vehicles" in "The Pet Store," suddenly grind their cars to halt, turn off their ignitions, and step out of their cars. They begin to walk; some in pairs, some in groups, and some alone... all of them drifting, dream-like, in the same general direction. And, like the River Ouse, their destination is the shore... where there are no "pet stores" and where wild creatures remain in the wild... and the sea has has no (discernible) horizon.

Within Nature, Life Eternal.

BTW, thank you. I'm so glad to see you back, and hope all is well. Wishing you the very best...


A gorgeous poem, Wendy! And perfect for this discussion.

The "big life stuff" is still looming largely, alas, but we carry on, and are grateful meanwhile for all the little things: the beautiful summer weather, friends and family, books, art, and all the support here.

I love synchronicities like this...and it's entirely appropriate here as dragonflies are, among many other things, a mythic symbol for synchronicity.

Your story about the pet store reminded me of "Nature: Now Showing On TV," an article Diane Ackerman published in the NY Times a couple of years ago:

Thanks for your kind wishes, and to everyone else here too. So very much appreciate while my family and I slog onward.

Thanks so much for the link, Terri! And thanks for replying.
Re; link. You know I was looking for the perfect quote for "The Pet Store" post, and you've just handed it to me on a silver platter.

Slog onward, and may you encounter the least resistance while you do! :-)


PS Actually, I didn't know that dragonflies symbolized synchronicity... that's fantastic!

Hi Terri

So glad you liked the poem; and I deeply appreciate your very kind words. I will continue to hold positive thoughts for you an your family. Take care of yourself and again,
Thank you!!


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