Saturday, 19 December 2009

Just Follow the Sun...

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No one tells Spring that Autumn will come, but the children of April are immortal, and in October they stand golden in the light of their remembered youth...

The nights are drawing in and it was already 3.45pm when I arrived at the house, courtesy of my new ‘SatNav’. I am a driver of the ‘old school’ and I initially scorned their use, preferring maps or memory. Memory was very important when I was a dispatch rider, working in central London. Like the London cabbies, we motorcycle dispatchers would memorise all the streets and as we were paid per parcel delivery, the faster we were, the more money we earned.

Now I have succumbed to the idea of being guided by 6 or 7 satellelites instead of my own map-reading and directional skills, I have become a SatNav addict….no trip to the corner shop would be complete without Sean’s Scottish brogue to direct me.

I had tried quite a few ‘voices’ before choosing Sean. Dennis Hopper was too sinister, Hannibal Lecter became boring after a while and John Cleese was altogether too bossy, with his parting:

“You have reached your destination – just don’t expect me to carry your bags, you’re on your own now!”

Finally, a rather over-sexed female voice that told me:

“You have reached your destination...but don’t stop just yet” - proved to be the last straw.

So Sean it was. In any case, the Connery burr telling me that I had reached my destination “Shaken but not shturred” did seem to suit my car's rough suspension and it’s 412,000 miles on the clock (yes…really!) Considering I do around 1,000 – 1,500 miles per week in it, my little Peugeot 106 is amazingly reliable for it’s age –  At one stage I was hoping that I would get it half-way round the clock...500.000 miles...however corrosion has set in, together with quite a bit of wear and tear, so I'll have to keep my fingers crossed.

It’s strange how time flies. It seems only yesterday that young Sean burst onto the screen in Dr No, with Ursula Andress. I remember watching him on Black and White television, being interviewed about the film. Then a couple of years later, watching my favourite Bond film "Goldfinger"

The kitchen table was full of pears from the seeds my mother brought back from Spain, wrapped in tissue paper. Northern Italy is a magnet for people who love wine, cheese and pears and my mother and father had a lovely holiday there in the '70's. Although wine was not to her taste, I know she would have loved the cheeses and the fruit. When she returned to England, she brought back the ‘pips’ – the seeds of the pears she had eaten – and planted them in her garden. Christina then visited Liz, bearing the small shoots she had grown from the seeds she had wrapped in tissue and brought home.  (I wrote about the trees and Mam and Dad a year ago) 

Although the pears have looked wonderful every year since that time, this is the first year that they have tasted so sweet...

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Liz was keen to go walking, and as the shadows were lengthening, I had a quick sandwich and a cup of coffee and we set out in the car to a small pudding-basin of a hill, no more than a mile in circumference, but so full of trees and ferns that it seemed limitless from the inside. It was the enchanted forest from the The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. When I was around eight or nine years old, I would check the back of the wardrobe in my parents house, in the hope of finding a pathway and a lamp post…and a Faun.

I still have the wardrobe – and the memories.

As we circled the hill in our endless forest, a rather irritable pageant of characters passed us going the other way. First up was a woman who had lost her dog. She seemed almost indignant that Liz didn't know were the dog was. Next to appear were a slightly frantic group, at least two women and a man. The women were calling out for their lost friend (the owner of the dog) whilst the man sat quietly on a tree stump with a forlorn  pooch on a lead. Liz again got stuck in and tried to help (only making matters worse) - I observed the action from a safe distance (as elderly men tend to do)

Eventually Liz extricated herself and we walked in a clockwise direction, around the perimeter of the hill. We had only gone a short way, when two bright eyes and a pair of floppy ears arrived to complete the anti-clockwise pageant. "Floppy Ears", who had obviously managed a full lap of the hill, listened carefully to Liz and then set off at high speed in the direction we had come from. Distant barking indicated a joyful reunion...

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The light was amazing; a beech tree seemed to glow from within. There were no shafts of sunlight or even bright patches as we passed through North and East, but When we reached South-West, the effect was stunning.

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It struck me that the whole of middle England (except the high bits) would have been covered with trees and bushes - not so long ago. It was easy to imagine a family making a clearing in the endless forest and being joined by others. As time moved on, the clearing would become a village and then a town...

But it would have all started with the endless forest...

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  By now we had completed a full circuit of the pudding-basin and we were back in the West    

The final rays of the sun were so beautiful...

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I set my camera on a fork in a tree and hurried over to Liz, the light was soft and gentle, with sunbeams touching our shoulders and the sun still blazing in the field behind us.

We started to make our way back to the car in the rapidly increasing dusk. The smell of  leaves and damp earth mixed in with the chilly Autumn air, held endings and beginnings - and also made me look forward to a hot cup of tea, sipped in front of an open fire, before supper, followed by an evening of Sherlock Holmes (Jeremy Brett is in my opinion, the ultimate actor to portray the legendary Holmes), then the excellent David Suchet as Poirret...and if we were lucky, Agatha Christie's Miss Marple - not to mention Columbo.  For such a gentle soul, Liz does like her Crime mysteries! (so do I)

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Just before we got in the car, I took a final look at the path we had walked down. It was almost dark and I had the same sensation I have had since I was a child...that my dusk was someone else's dawn.

As we returned to the house, courtesy of Sean’s instructions, we found ourselves driving directly toward the sunset. As the sun began to sink below the horizon, Liz countermanded the the Scottish brogue and the gruff instruction to "Turrrn Right" 

“I know the way he means" she said... 

"Go straight on”

“Just follow the sun for as long as it lasts.”

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It seems to have taken a lifetime to write this post. It is now December.

 

But soon the snowdrops will appear...

 

Round, like a circle in a spiral
Like a wheel within a wheel.
Never ending or beginning,
On an ever spinning wheel
Like a snowball down a mountain
Or a carnival balloon
Like a carousel that's turning
Running rings around the moon
Like a clock whose hands are sweeping
Past the minutes on it's face
And the world is like an apple
Whirling silently in space...

Alan Bergman and Michel Jean Legrand

6 comments:

nothingprofound said...

Thanks for taking me along with you on this wonderful excursion. The writing and the photographs gave me such a clear picture of the area you covered. Sunlight in the deep woods on an autumn day is a truly spectacular sight and something that always fills me with awe.

soulMerlin said...

Thank you 'nothingprofound' - your title is the opposite of the true self you are.

Merry Christmas

Love

henry

Michelle (artscapes) said...

Beautiful tour through Autumn both real and metaphorical... The photo of the pears feels like a painting and I expect ladies in aprons to come in laughing a bake...

Thanks for sharing a little of warmer days. We had a meter of snow fall here last week...

Liara Covert said...

You are the artist, the co-creator of this physical life. Reach for all the colors available to you on the palette. Engage the soul. Absorb the energy and vitamins of those timeless sunbeams. Everyone has opportunities to explore enchanted forests and magical creatures. What you find and how you feel is up to you. Be good to yourself. You are a blessing. Happy Holidays!

Chrissy said...

I love all your images and your stories Henry. I am glad you finally got to write them...I am often sad in the autumn but as you say we have moved on a pace and the snowdrops are just around the corner. As it was winter solstice yesterday, the evenings will not start to draw out again :D
The pears look lovely and your woodland walk with Liz is beautiful, thanks for sharing. I am not very good at that self timing stuff ;-)
Whilst I am here, I had a beautiful card arrived today so my thanks to Liz and yourself. It is lovely and I so do like that image. As you know I was fascinated by the story of Foxy. I actually took my first image ever of a fox earlier this week :D

Thanks very much, I feel rather touched by it :D Have a lovely time both of you XX

Robin Easton said...

Dear Henry (and beautiful Liz),

What a peaceful and elegantly stunning post. The photos just draw me in until I hunger to be there standing in the twilight rays. This is a deep heart sharing you've given us henry. I felt my whole body relax. Soothed.

Your posts just become richer and richer and filled with something as warm and ethereal as these twilight sun rays. Your photos of trees have ALWAYS just blown me away.

I could literally smell the pears. I love the story of your mother bringing back the seeds. WOW!! That whole story is such a metaphor for Life and what we sow....we reap. And that we CAN sow something seemingly simple and beautiful, but that will give profound pleasure and joy to others down the road. How amazing from little seeds grew all those pears.

I also just LOVE the Sean C. thing. Yes, I would have chosen his voice as well. You spelled the words just as he says them...I could hear him saying them in my head. LOL!! PURE DELIGHT. I laughed out loud, dear henry.

I want you to know that you have given me soooo much encouragement, love, support, humor, deep kindness and magic over the last two years. You are always with me and I am SO blessed to be part of the magic that is henry. And to get to know Liz through your stories and photos has moved me deeply. She is a woman of GREAT grace. Elegant of spirit and body. Just beautiful. Both of you are more dear than words can express.

I wish you both so much peace, health, beauty and love in this new year and always. Love, Robin

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