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February 2017

On a cold, cold day, the first signs of spring

Tilly and the Oak Elder

Wild daffodils emerging in the woods

As the final stretch of my Secret Project goes on and on, I'm worried that I've been neglecting readers of Myth & Moor. So here's my plan: While I'm finishing up the work at hand (which I truly hope won't be much longer now), I'll also post some photographs each day, taken on my usual rambles with the hound...but leave it to you to supply the words to go with them in your comments, discussions, and poems. (I know full well you are up to the challenge!)

White feather on the forest floor

For those of you who like to start the day with a good read, I'll include a recommendation with each post. Today, I recommend Kate Harloe's interview with George Saunders in The Rumpus. The piece is so terrific that I can't pull a single quote out for you -- it really ought to be read in full, for Saunders has wonderful things to say about writing, revision, respect for readers, and the value of "bold compassion" in the age of Social Media and alarming politics.

Wild snowdrops

Wild hound

Snowdrops

Also, a book recommendation: Selected Poems by Welsh poet Gillian Clarke (Picador, 2016), which is simply gorgeous. Go here for a taste.

Selected Poems by Gillian Clarke

Dog poems


Winter at Bumblehill

Into the woods

Well, creative projects have a way of taking longer than expected...or at least they do for me...so I'm still finishing the last bits of the Secret Something, which seem to be taking longer than all the rest of it combined. In the meantime, here are pictures of some of the other things going lately at Bumblehill....

After a long. sluggish stretch recovering from the flu that laid us low in December and part of January, Howard and I have both hit the ground running, trying to make up for lost time -- with Tilly, in her official capacity as Bumblehill Muse, cheering us on. The hound is always relieved when I'm out of bed, roaming the woods and hills with her again, which she considers an essential part of the creative process. And she's not wrong.

Frosty path

We've had a lot of frosty mornings this winter, but no proper snow again this year. Some days, mist rolls down from the moor...

Village in the mist

....and other days are bright and clear, lulling us with the hope (probably illusory) that spring is near.

Winter sky

On the best days, when the sun comes out, it's almost warm enough to work outside-- and after weeks house-bound with flu, it's worth chilly toes and fingers to be back among the trees.

Woods

Working in the woods

Working in the woods 2

The hills, staturated with rain, look like a watercolor painting before it dries -- the colors bright yet delicately rendered, slightly blurred together. Water pools among the bracken, swells the streams, and turns pathways to mud. I have new wellies (William Morris wellies!), so my feet are warm and dry, but Tilly comes home bedraggled and then sits and grooms herself like a cat.

Winter hills

Boggy ground

Winter rains

William Morris wellies

In the studio, Tilly naps as I quietly tap-tap-tap at the computer keys...

Napping Tilly

...but just beyond the hedge, in Howard's studio, there is a bustle of activity.

Puppets

Commedia dell'Arte mask

Howard and his partner (playright Peter Oswald) are launching a new company, Columbina Theatre, devoted to mask and verse drama. Their first piece, Egil, based on an old Icelandic saga, has already begun to tour -- and now they're at work on the second: a Commedia dell'Arte inspired romp called Sorry About the Poetry.

Costumes hanging on the wall in the two-room cabin that is Howard's office and theatre studio

Looking out the door of Howard's theatre studio

Jenny, my mother-in-law, pops by to do costume fittings (she's a theatrical costume designer by profession)...

Jenny Gayton adjusts Howard's costume

...and then the space is turned into a photo set to shoot publicity images for the shows.

P1360855

P1370044 copy

With the launch of the new company, plus Howard's on-going work with Hedgespoken Travelling Theatre, and teaching gigs, it's been a very busy winter (despite the flu) -- yet he's still pushing on with his solo project: the creation of a Punch & Judy show. Last summer I posted pictures when he began work on the puppet booth's frame: a complicated business, for the booth must be sturdy but also collapsible, and light to carry. Now the frame is built...

Tilly, Howard, and Mr Punch

...the mechanics of it are working. The booth will be easy to put up and take down again.

Tilly & Mr. Punch

The next step is to cover the frame with the traditional fabric of red-and-white candy stripes. This is where having a theatre seamstress in the family is invaluable, once again. Jenny sources the fabric, then comes over to drape and measure with Howard, working out the best way to constuct the tenting and attach it to the frame. In the photo below, we begin to see what the booth will look like when the striped covering is finished.

PJ4

As all this goes on, I'm beavering away on my secret project (trying not to get distracted by the goings-on next door). I do apologize for the time it's taking, and very much hope you'll find it worth the wait!

Mr. Punch


Tilly's first protest

Howard & Tilly

We took the hound with us to the One Day Without Us protest in Exeter, which was not only her first political march, but also her first city experience. The photo of her with Howard above comes from the event's Facebook page -- taken early, while the crowd was still gathering. Tilly looks a little worried in this picture, but she actually enjoyed the city: new sights, new sounds, new smells...and plenty of attention.

It was good to be there, showing solidarity with our European-born neighbors here in Devon. Listening to the stories of the ways their lives are being upending due to Brexit was truly heart-breaking. Thank you to all who support this political action, which is on-going.

flags

Signs

flagsThe Brecht poem in the picture captions is from Poetry magazine (June, 2011), translated from the German by Adam Kirsch.


Myth & Moor update

One Day Without Us

I am out of the office today in support of One Day Without Us.

As an immigrant myself, I am appalled by the UK government's stance that the rights of EU citizens who have legally made their homes in the UK are "bargaining chips" in the Brexit negotations -- and that these neighbors, co-workers, and family members now live in fear of deportation at some point in future. I'm ashamed that foreign-born residents of UK -- doing every kind of job from teaching, doctoring, nursing and care work to serving your latte at Starbucks -- are now made to feel disposable and unwelcome.

I have had deep immigration problems of my own due to the Orwellian rules imposted by Theresa May's Home Office -- and this with all the privileges of being white, English-speaking, middle class, married to a British citizen, and the mother of a British daughter. Take any or all of those privileges away, and the Home Office is even more brutal.

If you are in the UK, I hope you'll consider supporting "One Day Without Us" by joining your local protest today, and/or writing to your MP to object to the shameful lack of support for EU migrants (and immigrants from the rest of the world) at all levels of our government.

More info: http://www.1daywithoutus.org/

Mysterious plans afoot...

Tilly and I will be back very soon...with the Secret Something I've been working on. Thanks for your patience!


Myth & Moor update

The Goose Girl by Arthur Rackham

I'm away for the next week, back again on Monday, February 13. Have a good and creative week, everyone. Keep shining in the darkness.

An update on the update: It now looks like it will be another week before I'm back, as I'm still not finished with secret something I'm working on. But I'll have things to show you when I return, and hope you'll find it worth the wait. 

"In a time of destruction, create something." 
- Maxine Hong Kingston


Peter Pan in Kensington Garden by Arthur RackhamArt by Arthur Rackham (1867-1939)