Remembered landscapes

Monday November 13, 2006

You need a diligent hand on the tiller successfully to navigate the dull days of mid-November. There’s little breeze and less urge to go a’voyaging. Small wonder that some people choose to close the windows, put their heads down, and take on the Nanowrimo challenge. You can easily forget November while writing a novel, if that’s your wish.

Me, I wrap up well and sit outside, watching the cloudy sky and seeing it, sometimes. When the weather confines me to the house I sit by my window, seeing other landscapes in my mind’s eye. I count myself lucky to have seen so many of them.

Sitting inside or out, or walking, I have my notebook close to hand. It’s pages are duller in November than in almost any other month of the year. There’s so little to observe, you see. Like the Nanowrimo novelists, the world seems to have its head down for November, weathering the days, getting through it. Even so, going about my business, I see some signs that life goes on and my notebook records them even though, at this time of year, it’s my own internal landscape that occupies me the most and generates the bulk of my scribbling.

We are not of the breeds that choose to hibernate throught the winter months. Looking from my window it’d be easy to think that all the houses, devoid of any sign of life, are hiding places for people deep in a winter sleep. It’s not so, but it could be.

Dull days, indeed.

I think it’s time I went through the bookshelves to pull out my winter books. Old friends all, they serve to take me off into friendlier climates and to more outgoing company. I think I shall start with My Family, and other Animals, roaming the island of Corfu, lazing under the grape vines and listening to the cicadas sing until I am dizzy with sleep.

A good way to spend a dull November day, is that, listening to cicadas sing in the landscapes of the memory.

Today’s poem in my OMPOWRIMO project feeds from some scribbled lines in my notebook and also from a landscape in North Wales that I knew long ago and which is still fresh in my mind.

 

New paths
 
I learn the ways of the urban man,
take delight in the veining of a single
fallen leaf where once I sang the songs
of wide hill-hugging darkling forests.
 
I tread the ways of the urban man
on flat pavement laid for the easement
of hurried feet where once I trod
the rough path slowly to Yspty Ifan
 
along the rock-roared river and
over the stone bridge, spanning
hospiced crusader days as much
as it does the wild Conwy alone.
 
My mountain ways are now long past.
I have retired my bones to gentler parts.
 
 
John Bailey
Somerset, November 2006

 

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