Here I sit on the 3rd day of the year, a nuthatch is attacking the bird feeder, and apart from the kettle bubbling on the stove, the house is momentarily empty and quiet. I’m trying to gather some thoughts to cobble together this blog post but after nearly a month with no phone or internet, combined with the blurring together of days over Christmas, I feel as though I’ve emerged like Rip Van Winkle, blinking and out of time. Yesterday the phone was finally fixed (a giant battle with EE for compensation begins) and I am so joyful at being able to speak to my family in a warm room instead of shivering half way down the lane. I missed Christmas as far as my work goes … no access to the website or ability to promote myself through social media has probably resulted in fewer sales, but the radio silence has made me even more acutely aware that it is the connections we make with other people that really matter in life. Isolation can be a terrible thing and cannot be compared to chosen solitude. Anyway, all communications are working again now, I didn’t have to start training pigeons and the new year stretches ahead like a clean sheet of paper. I’m sharpening metaphorical pencils and preparing to make the first marks.
We had some sparkling days in December, when the path to the reservoir was studded with emeralds and rocks in the Scope Beck were encased and smoothed by shells of ice. Lakes reflected skies like water colours and kept reminding me of my dad’s paintings, as I wandered about being over emotional and nostalgic – a side effect os the season.
I had that “end of term” feeling in December as the last of the year’s orders went out. It’s a good feeling, to have cleared my desk, done the tax return and temporarily downed tools but also tends towards panic as the pressure to build on this year’s successes grows. I made the decision not to do British Craft Trade Fair this year which means I’m going to have to work really hard to be visible (the internet outage couldn’t have come at a worse time!) and hopefully keep the galleries I’ve worked with in 2017 interested as well as finding some new opportunities. Art in the Pen was so good for me that this year I’m hoping to do a few more similar events as well as getting my act together with the plan to run small workshops here. I like the idea of hosting small groups, running informal “kitchen table” style workshops and finally being able to use my “Brownie Guide Hostess Badge” skills (endless cups of tea and cake) .
Really I should have spent the month of no internet working on a new collection of designs and pouring over my “Dream, Plan,Do” journal ( setting “juicy goals ” ugh, no! ) but instead I retreated in to a book and it was the best thing I could have done. I’d wanted to join in a Twitter read along thing dreamed up by Robert Macfarlane and Julia Bird, the idea was to read “The Dark is Rising“, a children’s classic by Susan Cooper, mirroring in real time the days described in the story, starting on Winter Solstice eve. I managed to find a hideous 1990’s copy in Oxfam which included all five books in the sequence ( The Dark is Rising is the second but they all could stand alone) and set about retreating from real life for a while. It was a shame I couldn’t join in with the #TheDarkIsReading discussions online but I feel as though it was perfectly timed ; descriptions of winter landscapes, dark lanes, ominous crows and battles with “the Dark” came easily to mind as I spent many hours standing alone in the pitch dark and bitter cold trying to make phone calls! There is something comforting about reading books associated with childhood and I raced through all five volumes, able to briefly forget my worries. It reminds me of the winters of 2009/2010 when the heavy snow meant enforced seclusion and retreat (on that occasion in to Tove Jansson’s Moominland Midwinter) ; I think we all need this escape/hibernation from time to time and it has left me more able to face the January chill and the uncertainties of another year so thanks for the prompt Robert and Julia.
Goodness, the fire is a disgrace; despite frantic wood collection and much sawing by Rupert and his brother over the past few days (the woodpile got wet when the basement flooded last night during Storm Eleanor). My fingers have gone numb. It’s time for me to think about supper and finding something dry to burn… or another jumper…
Happy 2018 to you and thank you as always, for reading . This blog will have it’s tenth birthday in April so there will be things to win and tiny celebrations. For now I will leave you with this “Best9” image that seems to sum up 2017 in all its beautiful shades of blue, green and grey.
Reading; “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern Listening to: “How to Stop Time ” by Matt Haig ( audio book) and trying to forget the hours of Christmas tunes played in a loop by EE customer services.