Welcome to my first blog from the beating heart of The Write Factor – The Shed – a space we built not only to house the business, but to give us a place where we can pursue our own creative impulses outside the confines of the day job. The shed is full of instruments: ukuleles, guitars, keyboards, things with knobs on, and the obligatory lava lamp. It is also home to a lemon tree (with three lemons but no leaves), an orange tree with two ripening oranges and a zillion just-pollinated babies, but is badly infested with greenfly and scale insect and despite having been tenderly washed and sprayed with an organic soft soap, is dripping a sticky syrup all over the congas! There is a pistachio tree which has an incredibly beautiful form in the glasshouse that abuts the shed, several olives and a peach, all of which are in a state of winter dormancy although this morning, the February sun was warm enough for me to open the glasshouse door; a draught of cool fresh air clearing out the stagnant damp corners.
The blackbirds are giving me a hard time as I sit by the French doors in a pool of sunshine writing this. They are chattering and chirruping at me: they want their breakfast, and they want it now. I slip out and feed them suet with fresh berries (their favourite) noticing that the crocuses have opened wide to the late winter sunshine, basking like a cat would in the golden rays. As soon as the birdfeed hits the ground there is silence, the blackbirds boldly pecking away at their treats whilst I stand and watch. I’ve been trying to coax them to take food out of my hand, like the robins did where we used to live, but they’re still too shy.
I have an ulterior motive for feeding the birds: I want them to sing to me, especially the blackbirds whose plaintive song evokes springtimes past – childhood memories of village life and staying up until dusk, riding our bikes in ‘The Black Cat Gang’ and walking back from Brownies – always accompanied by the song of the blackbird or thrush or robin. These are my favourite things.
I recently saw a quote in Resurgence Magazine by the great mystic, William Blake, who wrote, “The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see Nature all ridicule and deformity … and some scarce see Nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, Nature is Imagination itself”. I’m with you on that William –even though I’m a woman of imagination. I was shocked to hear on Radio 4 yesterday, a discussion about life on Mars. When the presenter asked a woman what she would miss most if she were to live on the Red Planet, she said, “I’d miss the shops and being able to go out and buy clothes.” I was dumbfounded. “What! You wouldn’t miss the blackbirds!?” I shouted at the radio, a bad habit of mine. Some indeed scarce see nature at all.
I’m reading a wonderful book at the moment called The Fish Ladder by Katharine Norbury. It is a physical and metaphysical journey through grief, back to wellbeing. Katharine follows the path of rivers from the sea back to their source and in doing so regains her equanimity. Her observations of the natural world are acute and poetic; her courage and palpable grief, so moving – but it is Nature that heals her soul. I know a beautiful woman who donned a pair of waders and walked the path of many streams and rivers in North Devon, again to heal her heart.
It is these connections with Nature that give us back our imagination and inspiration. We are lucky that The Shed is situated just yards from the coast path and wooded valleys of Hartland, and we can step into the healing time whenever the day job gets just that bit too intense.
Curently listening to: Anour Brahem, Souvenance