Category Archives: garden

Beech tree revisited

A feature of Facebook I quite like is the “on this day” memory prompt. Today I was reminded of what I posted to this journal five years ago… I have revisited that word sketch, and my subsequent post, before today. When studying metaphors and imagery in poetry on my MA course I looked through the window at that same tree, and thought about life, and the seasons of the soul.

Today the tree is still here, and so am I. Both older. Since then I know more of my ancestral grounds, and more of the sadness of loss and letting go. But I also hold on to the hope and promise of that life which is ongoing, and which cannot be quenched. It will stir again in spring.

Here is the three part poem I eventually wrote from my first word sketch five years ago. The voice of the poem shifts from being in the tree, then addressing the tree, and finally describing the tree from a longer time perspective. I find this is a process which often helps me cope with the changes and seasons of life. I hope you enjoy it.

Beech Tree Revisited

I stand tall, frame strong, robust

black arms, branching into finger twigs,

dressed respectably in leaves

of supple bronze, green sap holds firm.

Days disrobe me. Clothes fade

to shabby rags, brown stains of death.

Threadbare cloak pulls from my back.

I am stripped,

naked.

************

Here are your reaching fingers,

clutching brittle dying debris.

Here are your silvered arms,

rain sluiced, wind tossed.

Skeletal shoulders

bear the winter of your soul.

Here is your straight scarred trunk.

Here is the moss wrapped body.

Here an inner downward thrust,

to roots deep underground

where something unknown

wants to live.

************

Chattering excitement spills

from nestlings, sheltered

in wooden box pinned to her heart,

Circling crows above her head,

like v-shaped birds drawn

on the sky by children’s hands.

She stretches fingers to the blue,

touches shimmering rain clouds

with swelling tips of pink

which burst to lime,

and hurrying, lace gloves

pulled on, she waves

in welcome to the spring. Then turns,

still rooted in ancestral ground,

to dance along new paths, where

from beneath the litter of past years,

spouting bluebells fountain

into pools around her feet.

Cilla Sparks

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Ephemeral art play

Today I was treated to a lovely trip to  Mottisfont House with some friends. We were going especially to see the Kaffe Fassett exhibition which is on there at the moment. But arriving a bit early we wandered the gardens to see what else was happening at Mottisfont this weekend.

We found a special Land Art activity being set up for families. Based on the work of such artists as Andy Goldsworthy, we were encouraged to collect natural materials to make our own “art”. Our results were not spectacular but we had fun and it helped us see our beautiful surroundings with new eyes.

We did eventually enjoy the inspirational work of  Kaffe Fassett inside the House but when I returned home I stepped into the garden feeling the urge to play with leaves and flowers! It was such colourful fun collecting and arranging stuff on our old wooden seat. Who needs paints, fabrics or embroidery?! 😊

 

October exhibit

This blog, started in January 2012, was originally inspired by Writing our Way Home, and their idea of writing “small stones”

I usually write a month of small stones to kick start each year in January. However I am currently following WOWH’s email course of October small stones and am finding great inspiration for just sitting still, and paying attention to life in all its variety.

Today’s quote was from Henry David Thoreau

“You only need sit still long enough in some spot in the woods that all its inhabitants may exhibit themselves to you by turns”

I didn’t need long in the garden this morning (it was drizzling!) to find this inhabitant exhibiting itself to me and inspiring a small stone.

Late chrysanthemums

Tight buds hide centres

of yellow mathematical arrangement.

Opening to wind and rain, rusty petals

stretch random sequinned fingers

towards the clouds, defying greyness

with their fiery flowers.

Generalising July

Listening to “meet the author” on the Today programme radio four this morning, I was amused at the comment. “you can’t just write about real life, it would be too boring”. It’s true of course, the novels we read are shaped and edited, time is speeded and slowed, the focus is narrowed and widened, but repetitive routines of life are missed out to focus on action and plot.

Today in my real life the rain has fallen nearly all day, and the tomatoes I picked in the rain were muddy and wet. Not much action there.

An online course on reading novels I have been dipping into was suggesting how sometimes these routines and rhythms of life can still be described even in the best plot time line. A moment when the essence of a season, or regular event, can be captured. The description is not of a particular summer, but all summers, not just one family breakfast time, but all…

Generalising and condensing recurring moments into one description can provide the underlying rhythm of story.

So rather than try and invent some action I looked back on my July posts and photos since I started writing this online journal, to find the general themes

July skies, grey, heavy rain,

widening to cloudless blue,

July roads, stone walled in Yorkshire dales,

high mountain views in British Columbia.

July books for holiday reading,

pen meets paper healing through writing,

July fruits, red, ripe for jamming,

stirring creativity, stitching textiles.

 

 

 

 

 

Seeing red

The last few weeks in the garden have been literally fruit full. We had a lovely crop of dark red morello cherries, not really dessert eating cherries but I made them into a rich flavoured sweet sauce. I wish it had set a bit more, but it tastes great on ice cream, or even on toast.

 

Then it was on to the plums, juicy and sweet, and good to eat straight from the tree. I dried a lot, and froze plenty too, so they will last us for weeks to come.

img_1625Today it was redcurrants, no “pick one eat one” rewards here, they are sour and seedy. But they look so beautiful hanging like red jewels in strings from the branches. And they have a translucence and a glow in the redness.

 

And then I have had another full dose of red on the eyes from another source. At last my Kaffe Fassett quilt is finished. Started in April at a workshop with the great man himself, it has been quite a task. Square by square it has gone together, then layered and quilted. Now I am just completing the binding.IMG_1626Certainly a feast of red!

Colour play day

Last week I had a treat. A chance to meet a hero of mine, and a day to work under his artistic guidance. My sister booked us on a workshop with colour guru and textile artist Kaffe Fassett, whose work has inspired me for many years.

Arriving at the venue, Lady Sew and Sew in Henley, we were greeted by rows and rows of fabric, an overwhelming rainbow of colour. Kaffe and Brandon, his partner,  set us to work, but encouraged us to play, to experiment and see what happened when colours met each other. We were following Kaffe’s “Seed Packet” design from his book Bold Blooms, and it was exciting to see what grew in front of us.

After a day of cutting and placing, everyone’s designs were as individual as their creators. Kaffe commented and made suggestions, and signed books before we packed up our mess and left, exhausted but on a high!

All that has to be done now is to finish it! I have been making progress, but there’s a long way to go yet. Watch this space…

IMG_1325

 

Spring bling!

What better excuse than the spring equinox to post pictures of beautiful flowers. A walk around the garden reveals blossoms at every turn.

Shades of yellow daffodils and primroses, and hyacinths large and small.

Luscious pinks of camellias and hellebores, and the multi flowering stems of heathers and pieris.

What treasures!