Sue Vincent of The Daily Echo blog (http://scvincent.com/) agreed to my request for a guest post on the subject of: These Are a Few of My favorite Things. I know you will enjoy this.
Noelle recently agreed to write a guest post for my blog, and in return, she kindly asked me to reciprocate by sharing a few of my favourite things. This is more difficult than it seems… how do you pick out a handful of favourites from a world full of people and wonders? Leaving people out of the equation entirely seemed the only way forward. I went back to the blog for inspiration and looked at the things that generally make me pick up the pen, because these are the things that always make my heart smile.
No surprise then, that the first ‘thing’ to come to mind was Ani, the accidental dog with a repertoire of expressions worthy of Disney. Technically, she is a Setter/Toller cross, but in fact she is simply unique. I grew up surrounded by dogs. My great grandparents kept a family of Irish Setters and there were always dogs in my life. I had been dogless for a while when my son was attacked; Ani was brought home form a canine rescue as a puppy, with the intention of training her to be an assistance dog. It never happened, although we began her training. My son recovered enough to move into a home of his own and I found myself with a dog. She knows how to ‘clean up’ her tennis balls and toys, but these days her idea of helping is to help herself to any unattended food, including, one year, the Christmas turkey. That was bad enough, but she regularly helps herself to what little dignity I possess and writes her own posts on the blog.
Ani, given both her ancestry and inclination, is a bird dog… and that brings me to the second of my favourite things and one that came as something of a surprise. I am not a bird-watcher as such, but I watch a lot of birds. When I was small, my grandfather always decorated the laburnum tree outside the French windows with food for the birds and it was probably then that I started to learn about them. I always seem to have known the names of our garden birds. Then there were the homing pigeons we kept as I was growing up so I learned a lot about their behaviour and habits, just by helping to look after them. It wasn’t until we moved south, though, and into a region where the red kites fly, that I really began to take notice. Now, the wild birds are as much a part of my day as the dog and my camera is always at hand, home or away, in case I can get ‘that’ shot.
I was born in Yorkshire, in the north of England, but I have moved around quite a lot over the years. Yorkshire and the moors of the north, though, have a very special place in my heart. I think the link with the land goes even deeper than emotion, though. I think it has something to do with resonance and the geology of the place you were born, or came into awareness of your surroundings. Then there are the memories that add their own richness to the mix and for me the most cherished memories of my childhood are the long tramps through the heather with my mother or grandfather, listening to the old tales and legends and learning to read the mysteries in the stones. Such places sing to the soul.
The ancient stones that march across our land were set there by our ancestors around five thousand years ago. There are thousands of circles, standing stones, barrows and cairns…many of them decorated with enigmatic petroglyphs whose meaning we do not know. A lifetime is not long enough to spend amongst them, unravelling their mysteries… and yet, we try. It is the trying, I think, that matters and it is that quest for understanding that forms the backbone of many of the books written with Stuart France.
Books have always been a passion. I cannot remember a time when they were not part of my life. Even before I could read, books were read to me. Stories of ancient myths and legends, stories written by my mother and grandfather, stories of far off times and places. Little wonder then that history has always had a fascination for me and particularly the history of the human search for meaning to ‘life, the universe and everything’. It was from these early tales, I suppose, that my own quest for understanding was born and it has taken me down some strange and wonderful pathways over the years. I remember that one of the first things I learned, very young, was that the butterfly was a symbol of the soul and its journey. These days, that journey occupies most of my time and all of my being as I work with the other directors of the Silent Eye to shape a place where seekers can find companionship on that quest.
But today, it is Ani that has my attention, playing with another of my favourite thing… snowflakes. We are both watching the heavy-laden sky and hoping that the few meandering flakes will fall and settle, then we can go out to play. Thank you, Noelle, for asking me over. It is good to take a moment to appreciate the richness of the world around us and realise just how many ‘favourite things’ we have in our lives.