Lately I have been living from inside a hawthorn tree. Thorns and spikes holding me fast, drawing blood and fracturing my view while the bread-and-butter leaves have sprung out to sustain me and the heart of the hawthorn has surrounded me as a balm while my human heart has panicked a little. I remember that moment in childbirth when the pain and exhaustion suddenly tipped me over the brink from enjoying being such an amazing animal to fear that this just couldn't work and I and my daughter would die. Grief has such moments too. The pain just goes on and on and much of the time I can recognise it as a sign of the depth of my love and so live with it quite peaceably, barely writhing in its grasp. And then some trigger, often unknown, tips me up and I am so scared I won't be able to carry this for much longer. I panic that if I slip and this pain spills, it may swirl around my girl's ankles and pull itself up the xylem of her veins until it holds her heart as it holds mine. And we will both have no choice but to retreat to the hawthorn tree at the bottom of the garden and wait it out until pain or life let go.
My fear is unfounded. When I tip, nothing spills. This pain is mine alone and cannot harm others. It took a long while to learn that and I doubt it still. My daughter carries her own pain which will evolve with her. I pray it will never feel this heavy because, while she perhaps has lost more than I, she is less aware of how much lighter our lives would be if her gentle Dada was still with us.
She has her own concerns but they mostly involve what I'm cooking for tea (invariably pronounced 'Disgusting', then consumed with gusto) and the contents of her astronaut lunchbox. Lately we have found a couple of baby birds on the pavement, fallen before wings had even begun to form. We carry them to the nearest field, choose some grass or earth to lay them on and a nice leaf to cover them. Pickle knows they will likely be eaten before nightfall, but we like them to be somewhere green and good for a time. Her equanimity around death is shocking for some, but reassuring for me. It happens and it can happen right up close before you are even two; before you have grown even one feather. It is good to know a kind hand will carry you and the people you love to a good place. That feels mythology enough for now.
Here, as proof of the resurrection that is spring, are four (I think) live and squirmy babies who will by now have soft featherdown. The photo isn't great because I used the zoom so I didn't get too close, but you can just see their interwoven bodies.
When I last spoke with you I was eyeball-deep in fayre preparations. It was all worth it (as it always is) and here I am having a lovely birthday selling wares and receiving gifts
and laughing with some excellent friends.
To the left is Suzi Crockford, creatrix extraordinaire at Dartmoor Drums and Rima Staines, muse of many, over at The Hermitage, who took the first fayre photo. This second one was taken from the stall of Virginia Lee. I am blessed to have so many inspirational friends. It was a good day and ended with the fine combination of The Sweet Lowdown and cider.
Many of the talented names of Chagford and its environs have donated work for this Saturday's art auction fundraiser for Proper Job - our essential local re-use and recycle centre. It'll be a good night, with a band and beverages and banter, but I'm quaking at the thought of my work being auctioned alongside the other amazing things on offer. Click the link to see why I'm so worried. I've given this oil painting:
I've also fully set up my online shop for original work, here at Artfinder. There's quite a few new pieces which haven't made it onto this blog yet, plus a lot of prints I've made of Thomas's amazing pencil and ink drawings, so I'll run a series of regular posts with a new work each time. For now, this is Still Falling For You, which I think explains itself:
Pickle and I have been to Tintagel Castle, where she had a brilliant time racing towards cliff edges or leaning perilously over them while I held myself back from holding her back and nearly fainted from the effort and anxiety.
And we have spent more time with my parents, comparing the wide open spaces of Somerset to the moor we are used to.
And all this time, while I am angsting about money and schooling (don't get me started on that) and art and her falling off cliffs or bikes or trees, Pickle is sensibly getting on with the business of growing up. She grows out of her clothes faster than I can say, 'Maybe I did a hot wash by mistake', can get her own breakfast and do most things all by herself (al least until she's tired) and has even started writing/dictating letters to her friends.
Oh, and she has produced her first book - fully illustrated and bound by her own fair hand. It mostly concerns the movements of snails and is the most delightful thing I have ever read. #Proud Mama moment :o).