What Silence Brings

My day of vowed silence was shattered by the thunder of horse hooves on pavement. I looked up from my knitting, previous experience around horses telling me that this horse had bolted and I was hoping that it was without a rider in tow. Within seconds the horse appeared, he was the familiar flea bitten grey that was sometimes boarded across the street from me, charging down the hill in front of my house. Thankfully it is a quiet road and even more thankfully there was no sign that riding had been taking place.

Action was of the essence, before I knew it I was jamming my feet into my muck boots and grabbing the nearest thing that could serve as some kind of lead; my favourite scarf. Out into the cool Autumn air I went, scanning for my quarry. He was a grey streak galloping up the neighbour’s driveway, handily heading to a place he has called home. In pursuit I went, scarf in hand, but as I got a quarter of the way up their driveway I stopped to contemplate. Their yard was practically made of paddocks, and at this point in their driveway there was a gate. Should I close it? With uncertainty I turned towards the road, wondering if the owner’s of the horse might be appearing soon.

In the moment of my hesitation a pick-up truck appeared occupied by a man full of intent, he pulled up and rolled down his window.

“Are you looking for a horse?” I asked, speaking for the first time that day. If one must speak on days like this, it may as well be with a line fit for a film.

“Yes, did you see him come this way?” Was the urgent answer.

The problem was that in the moments before my hesitation I had watched the horse gallivant into one of the paddocks and then promptly off into the woods. I told the man so.

“Take these treats,” he said shoving them into my hand, “see if you can get him to stay here if he reappears, I’ll go next door.”

With purpose I turned and continued my way up the hill, but there was the horse back in the paddock. Quickly I descended back to the truck.

“He’s back!” I exclaimed, and the man reversed his direction and pulled into the driveway.

Together we ascended on foot, hands crammed full of treats, the man explaining he thought we could try to get him into the outdoor arena. I slipped off to close one of the gates on the aforementioned space and then joined him up in the paddock. Slipping through the fence we approached the horse who stood staring at us, mainly me, which led me to wonder if he was a nervous sort and me being a new face could cause further alarm. Adding to this worry was the man standing some ways away from the horse, calling his name, and gently tossing a treat towards him, but making no approach.

So far I had ascertained that the horse belonged to his granddaughter, the horse had come from two houses up, and the horse’s name was Duke. I worried about overstepping my bounds with someone else’s horse, or plain just being in the way, but having seen his granddaughter when Duke was living across the street and knowing that she was younger, I decided to rely on an assumption (not usually a recommended method) that the horse was unlikely to be a wild steed and with my experience and comfort around horses, I would approach.

Duke may have been wild about treats, but no fits of rearing or head tossing were to occur and after a couple from both of our supplies he seemed inclined to follow the man he knew down the muddy hill of the paddock. That was until the last second before Duke was about to descend and he veered off and back into the woods.

To my relief I then discovered that the paddock had an odd outcropping into the woods and what may have held particular fascination was the animal sanctuary next door, with its intriguing cacophony of exotic animal orchestra. Be that as it may, neither of the humans were there for a concert and it was time to move on. It was time for The Scarf.

It has always amazed me, in both a sad and grateful way, that the large and majestic horse will follow the puny human on the end of a bit of rope. It is, of course, down to training (for better or for worse), but being given the gift of trust from such a powerful and gorgeous creature is something that should be cherished.

Having attracted Duke’s attention with another circle of crunchy goodness, I proffered my scarf for his inspection.

“Are you okay with this scarf?” I asked him letting him sniff and lip it before moving it against his sweaty neck. “And here?” I inquired further. Seeing as he was paying it no mind, but would rather I had him inspect another treat from my hand, I gently laid the scarf over his neck and held both ends beneath it.

Again the miracle occurred. With only the loosest definition of a “lead” Duke walked with me immediately. Down the muddy hill we went, us three previously unacquainted neighbours, and into the paddock Duke did trot. The man and I managed the gate and then stepped outside to assess our much less pressing situation. He called his son to explain where Duke had chosen to reside, and with him on the way we finally got around to introducing ourselves.

Names and histories flowed. Joyfully I learned that he thought the neighbourhood to be a most pleasant one (it’s always good to know that the place you’re stuck for the foreseeable future is a good one) and had lived here for some time before giving the house two places up from us to his son and his wife. Fascinated I listened to tidbits of knowledge about my house and its past. Somewhere in the midst of this the neighbour, who’s land we were on, appeared looking quite puzzled. Out of the paddock we climbed and back down the driveway we went to explain the sudden appearance of a horse and two strangers.

In the midst of explanations the son arrived with a much more practical halter and lead rope in hand. More introductions, explanations, and horse retrieval later the party went two separate ways. Father and son to ensconce Duke once again in his home, and make sure he stayed ensconced, while my other neighbour had offered to show me his new goat. Who can refuse meeting a goat?

~*~

Being friendly with neighbours is always something I hope for, but in the past have only had mixed success due to differences. Though we managed to remain mostly amiable, it always made me sad that we couldn’t have a stronger neighbour relationship. Perhaps meeting one’s neighbours in the midst of a mild crisis is the best way. Besides an excellent shared story we’ve begun to know each other by working together.

Here’s to hoping for a bright neighbourly future!

Day of Silence conclusion: Though my day ended up not being entirely silent I have still experienced much. Being that it is my first attempt at such a day I was unsure what my criteria would be, but you have to start somewhere. Today’s goal was to keep entirely silent myself, that I wouldn’t turn anything on to make noise (music, films, etc.), a kind request that no one else turned on any of those things before noon, and that I spend at least a little time in meditation.

Even with the sound interruption the fact that it was surrounded by silence made the experience all the more vibrant. Who knows if I would have even noticed anything happening if I had been playing music or the like. Otherwise I found myself more productive and certainly more thoughtful. My hopes to work towards restoring my emotional self after a long period of stress feels like it has moved forward. This is something I am hoping to do again and will be fascinated to see what happens.

 

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When Magic Pervades My Thoughts

 As is often the case when I settle in to compose a blog post I had set my mind on a likely topic, but promptly found myself unable to find the words… for days.

So I go with the flow. As I sit here now instead of my intended narrative about my month long journey from Nuneaton, England to Lerwick, Shetland (hence my absence here) I feel much more inclined to ruminate on magical children’s books, particularly of the late 19th to early 20th century.

There is no denying that this has much to do with the fact it was only hours before now that I finished my first reading of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It is not the first children’s book to leave me in a state of child-like wonderment, I have a growing collection of favourites on my shelf, not all from the same era, but they are more often less modern and technology heavy than otherwise.

The Chronicles of Narnia, Five Children and It, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, The Enchanted Castle, The Dark is Rising Sequence… The feelings these books leave me with is a swirling mix of desire to run across a meadow collecting flowers, building faerie houses, discovering a quest among the trees, taking delight in every little thing from acorns to the gurgling of a brook, having generally no concern for time, but I also feel inclined to sit myself down immediately and focus on the construction of my own story to enchant children and adults alike.

All of these things can be accomplished, in fact the latter would probably be better off with plenty of the former happening beforehand, but my first task must be the attempted civil conversation with my judgemental adult self about how it must loosen up. For Her High and Mighty Judgementalness has a tendency to accuse me of foolishness if I frolic and looks down on me with disdain when I suggest I might be able to write a story well enough someone might like to read it.

My intent to keep a shelf of these books is my attempt to keep myself inspired and reminded of that moment after devouring the last word on the last page, closing the back cover and staring at it entranced while my brain struggles to relocate from one world to the next. At that moment anything feels possible, perhaps I should toss the book aside and charge from the house to plant my own secret garden, or grab another book and quest out for a tree to clamber up and read in, or get in the car and drive somewhere new! Yet I have never done these things at this moment, and why? Because Queen Judgement says “Wasn’t that lovely. Now let’s do some dishes and then spend time worrying about some things that you actually can’t do anything about right now.”

Honestly. There is no reason to feel like I am leaving the magic behind. For here I sit watching the sun gilded clouds drift across a blue sky, while the trees stand in silhouette as the sun has forsaken them in its progress towards the horizon. While all below is a pristine white from the recent snow storm I had the privilege to observe in all its snow globe glory without concern for warmth or food. If all that doesn’t convince me of the magic around me then I shall just look at this photo…

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St Ninian’s Beach, Shetland – February 2018

… this beautiful beach may not be on my doorstep, but I have been there and it is of this world, and without a doubt it is magical.

All it takes is to notice it.

I know this is a reoccurring theme with me and I have mentioned it before, but it seems to be a lesson I am taking my time in learning. It seems so simple, but then life does have a way of rearing up its head and grabbing my attention away again.

In the meantime, I would gladly welcome anyone’s suggestions of their favourite magical children’s books. Whether the magic is obvious or just a feeling you’re left with. Please do leave a comment with your recommendations! Thank you!

Writing About Writing

There were grand plans in place for a piece of fiction to be written for this week’s blog post, but alas it would seem that trying to push out the last 5,000 words for National Novel Writing Month and writing a short story for here was just too much for the creative writing part of my brain. In fact, just writing those last 5,000 words seems to beIMG_5742 taxing me inordinately.

Which is probably why I was taking these pictures instead.

Apart from the fact that it was a rather pretty sunset shining through the bare bones of the willow tree in my backyard, it gave me a moment to surface for air from the 45,000 words I have already written this month and contemplate what I have managed to accomplish.

With the support from the wonderful NaNo staff who make everything possible, the well known authors who give a little time to write pep talks for us aspiring authors, the fellow writers world wide who are supportive in chatrooms, in person at write ins, and friends who are willing to prod you into action in the comfort of your own home; I have managed to get where I am today.

Where am I today? Well, I appear to be waist deep in a story that, for all my planning, has certainly taken the direction in its own hands and run with it. Characters have run amok and behaved quite badly before my very eyes (one of them murdering multiple people quite unexpectedly), all the while I can feel an enormous pile of research that needs to be done teetering at my side, and by the end of November I will likely only be half way done at best. However, it seems that this year I may have encountered the right time, story, and inspiration to make something of it! Which is very exciting.

Perhaps next week will be the right time for me to share a short story here!IMG_5744

Eleven Days Of Change

My awe of the elements and seasons never ceases. A mere eleven days since my last post which was full of colourful leaves and sitting out on the porch and now I have a completely different tale to tell. There is a greyer hue to everything around me and the leaves have all fallen, or at least lost their colour and reside upon their trees in a soft brown halo. The temperature is certainly cooler as well, which it’s about time as our autumn has been unnaturally warm.

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Mud Pond, Dublin, NH – October 2017

With this change of season comes something else, at least for those with a writing proclivity and a certain lack of sanity. National Novel Writing Month! As I write this now we have (at least in my time zone) officially entered the month of November and (in my case) the start signal to start writing 50,000 words! I have been waiting for this moment with great anticipation and it is with some effort that I stick to finishing out this blog post before switching to the novel I have been plotting and outlining for the past month.

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Mud Pond, Dublin, NH – October 2017

This year I was surprised to discover that I have been feverishly attempting to finish novels for TEN Novembers now! How the years do fly! Yet each year I am equally excited about the prospect of starting fresh on a new idea, and this year is no different. This year I have even more impetus to make something of my idea, for it is my hope and dream to make a living off of my writing and I have decided now is the time to try.

I owe so much gratitude to National Novel Writing Month (NaNo for short), its creators, and those who run it now. This simple self challenge has brought me writing inspiration, great times with friends, and the acquisition of new friends around the world! I am going to share the link to the website now because I would highly recommend participating to anyone with writing inclination. There is so much I could gush about, but I will spare you and let you discover for yourself here.

As a curious side note to this post, the pond in the pictures is one I have driven by hundreds of times, but I have never known its name… until today. Little did I suspect it had the eloquent moniker of Mud Pond. Someone was having a creative day.

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Mud Pond, Dublin, NH – October 2017