This morning I woke up to the pleasant sound of birdsong outside my window, a sure sign that spring is finally here. The thrush was singing his heart out, which was wonderful to listen to from the comfort of my cozy nest. Later in the morning, when I briefly perused online, I saw many photos of the amazing Northern Lights display last night. I missed it! Again. I was fast asleep for a full 10 hours. This is the seventh (or eighth?) night in a row this has happened, where I've slept so heavily, which is unusual for me. But I guess I need it! Perhaps I will see the aurora in all its glory again one day, but on this occasion I’m grateful for everyone else's photos. They are a treat to see, even if I could not witness it in person. Here are a few wonderful pictures I came across. Quite stunning!
Some of you know this already, but I have been under firm instructions to rest. In a recent newsletter I wrote about 'unpredictabilities' and the 'unexpected', referring to what finds its way to the canvas. Well, I could not have predicted what happened to me a little over a week ago In one friend's words last Friday... 'We have just arrived back at Freswick after nearly a week away with events in Edinburgh. All went well artistically, but Monique had a very nasty accident - when she ran into a glass door which looked completely invisible. She has significant concussion and we spent many hours in casualty at the Royal Infirmary on Monday, including brain scan etc. She will be fine and there is no lasting damage (as far as one can tell), but she hurt herself badly and needs to rest for many days now. She is not supposed to focus on anything much, so little e-mail, no TV or films, no driving.... a boring kind of recovery! ' I'd prefer sticking to the unexpected on canvas, I must say! So I’ve been laying low for a while. As the person sitting beside me in A&E said 'That must have been a very clean window'. It was. I've been told not to do things that require me to concentrate, as that will aggravate my head and slow the healing process. It's almost impossible to eliminate concentration entirely from my day, but it is a good exercise in letting go and not thinking too much. Having had to stop, I realise how much I do think, and overthink, and think some more. So there we are - a good lesson learned out of all this. In these instances, when options are limited, I begin to realise more and more how nature and art can be so healing, touching parts of our lives that other things cannot. I asked my friend in Denmark who is a musician for some music recommendations while I am ‘not thinking’. Music seems one of the art forms that allows you to completely ‘switch off’ in a way, and yet it is so immersive. Among a few possibilities, he suggested Max Richter’s ‘Sleep’ which is an 8 hour composition if listened to in its entirety. I can easily drift off with it on at night and wake up to it again when it is nearly finished! I started listening today, and it is so relaxing. Yesterday, more than 10 days on from my accident, I managed to get out for a brief walk. I had my sunglasses on and a scarf wrapped snugly around my strained neck and chose my steps slowly and carefully down to the edge of the sea. On the way I took a few photos. Rather than focus too hard on the things I noticed, I let the camera do some of the focusing for me.
The daffodils are beginning to display their full trumpet glory. I love how they cover the hillside with bursts of yellow.
Back at home the yellow of roses and a lemon bring cheer to my day.
One friend from Holland quoted Rilke in a card I received from her in the post yesterday, which resonates with me, as I've had to be patient with myself and the circumstances I find myself in. It is from his Letters to a Young Poet:
“I am able more and more to make use of that long patience you have taught me by your tenacious example; that patience which, disproportionate to ordinary life which seems to bid us haste, puts us in touch with all that surpasses us.”
- Rainer Maria Rilke Along with this my friend included the poem 'Silence' in Dutch, below, which coincides well with the practice of patience. I've added my own English translation, but apologise if it is not quite accurate! My dutch is limited, and so is my brain capacity right now.
Speaking of which, I think I’ve reached my quota of thinking and writing for now and will need to take some rest, but I send warmest greetings from a cloudy Caithness. Perhaps the skies will clear for another aurora display. I better set my alarm clock!
I hope you enjoy these early days of Spring. 🌱 Stilte
by Sagitte de Ruigh (in Dutch)
De aarde voelen
Tot bloei komen
In het licht
Stilte is mededogen
Stilte is verbinding.
To feel the earth
In which everything
In the light
Silence is compassion
Silence is connection
(Thank you, Tineke, for this poem and for the Rilke quote! 🌼)