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  • Monique Sliedrecht

Thanksgiving



I just got back from a walk on the beach, caught by a light and misty rainfall. The wetness accentuates the colours of the limpid shells and bits of glass and buoy found on the shore.

And now, a hot coffee to warm up.


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It’s Thanksgiving in Canada - a holiday celebrated by most Canadians. While not as ‘big’ an event as in the States, families will still be getting together as much as is possible this weekend. My family living in Ontario will meet with the permitted 8 people for a meal and I’ll probably ‘zoom’ in at some point!


I’m reminded of a trip I did with my sister and brother-in-law to the north of Ontario at this time a few years ago when the colours of the trees were so vibrant. Now my sister and her family are living in BC and I am here in Scotland, so the prospect of doing that together again seems a bit distant, but I’m so glad to have the memory as well as the hope of returning one day.



This has been a week of experimenting with some new materials. I’ve explored the pouring of resin for a piece, created prints on paper using some of the potatoes from the abundant harvest we had here at Freswick Castle, and tried out a new glue lent to me by our local builder which works well on the combine paintings….. These are small and maybe minor things, but they somehow bring a sense of movement forward. We need to count our blessings in these ways too, don't we? However simple.



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Then yesterday I went for a drive into Sutherland. The world was fairly glowing in-between sudden sweeps of rain, and maybe more so because of the rainfall. At times, when the sun suddenly appeared, the landscape seemed to be on fire, with sparks of light from the sun touching the wet of leaves, ferns, trees, rivers. The colours were so vibrant and fresh, despite this time of moving into a more dormant stage of life and growth.


The world is charged with the grandeur of God.

    It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;


My insides were near bursting like the full rivers of rushing water.

Such beauty!

I kept driving.



It has become one of my favourite landscapes - unlike any other I know. And while largely untouched, it is being newly discovered by many more people these days because of the NC500 route. Saying that, it was still pretty free of caravans in some places, just revealing bare open hills, some whose shapes became newly defined by a light dusting of snow that had fallen the night before.




There is a melancholy in that northern landscape, at this time of year especially - a moodiness that perhaps matches the mood and strangeness of my own feelings in relation to all that is happening in the world. And yet I feel a sense of peace and wellbeing. If there is such beauty like this around us, and if we could only just match our efforts with the rhythms of the seasons at earth’s pace, we’d be ok, wouldn't we?


This morning, in the sunlit start of this day, I wish I was still there, in the glow and wildness of it all, in those colours of russet, orange, red, gold… the umbers, and siennas.



When I returned last night I lit a fire in the fireplace, sitting in the glow of the day’s impressions for a little while longer, in the warmth that it brought to my insides and outsides. That will feed me for a while.


And to write about it this morning imprints it further on my mind.


Late morning sunrise, early evening hearth — these become the bookends to the autumn days.


And I’m grateful - for fire, light, for potatoes, for squash and carrot soup, for the colour orange, and sienna, yellow, and ochre..., for beach finds, creativity, for the history of hills and mountains, for a roof over my head, for friendship, family…. ‘for the dearest freshness deep down things’.


God's Grandeur

BY GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS


The world is charged with the grandeur of God.

    It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;

    It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil

Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?

Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;

    And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;

    And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil

Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;

    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;

And though the last lights off the black West went

    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —

Because the Holy Ghost over the bent

    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.



Happy Thanksgiving!



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