PARACHUTE oil on canvas

PARACHUTE oil on canvas

Strange time of year this, when all the fuss of Christmas is over. Waiting for new and different things, waiting for the time when things get better but not yet. Not yet. Today the wind is howling and whistling around the house on its hill overlooking the wild sea. It tugs at the slates, punches fingers into gaps in the wall, looking to get a grip, to tear the world asunder.

Sometimes I lie on the bed, which is under a slanting roof, a small skylight of grey over head and let go to the sound of the wind. The wind is always a mysterious thing to me, an unseen hand that shapes the land and trees, a howling force that moves with impunity across oceans and continents. The wind is the breath of the world, a macrocosm of the breath that moves unbidden in and out of our bodies so that we may live.

I am drawn to magical thinking. It is how we got through life before we knew so much about the natural world. Angels, demons, miracles and metaphors. We made up beautiful and terrifying stories about how everything worked:the stars paint stories of the Gods, the weather their moods, thunder and lightning their anger, floods and famine their punishments and we could but surrender to them all, making offerings as we go.

The stories and the offerings transmogrified, calcified into fact and then became the immovable dogma of religion. Science, in its turn, taught us so much of how things happen it took away some of the need to tell stories, introduced us to logic. That impulse is still there though, the impulse to succumb to something larger, to imagine mysterious and all-powerful forces shaping our lives. And there is a draw to forget logic, explanations, a desire to to let the mind off its leash, a desire to to let go, finally into the world of imagination

TWISTY TREES oil on board

TWISTY TREES oil on board

And so I listen to the wind I imagine climbing through the sky light into its howling grasp, my hair whipping into my eyes as it thrusts me around and sends me spinning high into the roaring sky.

Beneath me my little house recedes, the eye of the skylight blackly agape in horror. The dog runs and barks, wants to come too. Three starlings tumble by, delighted. The fir trees over the road wave and hiss dire imprecations as the palm trees in the corner of a garden mutter, in a foreign accented clatter, of typhoons and hurricanes.

I am tumbling over the fields and the hedges which are pinned with trees twisted in ungracious acquiescence to the winds force and who shudder disapproval as I hurtle past towards the red and yellow cliffs that spit great gobs of yellow foam into the air.

With a great lurch of my heart the land gives way beneath me and I am out over the sea, a furious green whipped into a wild meringue that glares in the slanting, winter light. Gannets, wings army-straight and black tipped, turn, drop by me and bomb the sea with knots of spray. Gulls and skuas squawk and scythe the air. A cormorant arrows low across the waves.

LAND OF ANGELS ONE  pastel on paper

LAND OF ANGELS ONE pastel on paper

Further out a dark fin cuts the surface. The whales are here. Sometimes a great tall puff of steam explodes to be ripped to shreds by the wind impatient of any challenge to its authority.

Up  I go, flying now, arms spread wide, nothing around me, nothing but the screeching air wet and cold on my face and the extraordinary knowledge that in giving all control up freedom is mine. Pure joy, like a flying dream but real this time. It is real.

Rising higher I see the coast unreeling below me, paw like headlands tearing at the ocean, besieged rocky islands like knuckles, clenched. Beaches and fields are lace-edged ochre and green, embroidered with twisting steel grey roads busy here and there with flashing gold headlights of holiday cars. The windows of lone houses glow warmly, like jewels caught in the dark knotted filgree of hedges.

LAND OF ANGELS TWO pastel on paper

LAND OF ANGELS TWO pastel on paper

I can see the mountains now too, sprinkled with snow as the lights of the towns and cities to the north, east and west come on even as they recede below me. To the south, it is dark, only a pinprick of light here or there, bobbing in the troughs, tiny outposts of tiny men in tiny boats in giant seas.



To the west there is still light beyond the curve of the world but I am blown higher up into indigo and black, into the calmer trajectory of the glittering stars. Here are the warriors with their bows and swords, the plunging, writhing animals, the ships and the ploughs, the princesses and kings that guided our ancestors though the stormy seas of life.

Ah, would that it were as easy to let go to it all, surrender to the currents and eddies of life, allowing them to fling us hither and thither, happy just to ride the breath of the world, the tiny hands of the world having finally let go of our ankles.






  1. Reblogged this on THE MERMAIDS PURSE and commented:

    Though I am not one to complain about weather, I like drama and I think continuous clear blue sky would be boring, wind is my least favourite meteorlogical force. Still on a morning like this morning the sound of it around the house can be compelling. I could write about it but I have already done so, two years ago. Here is that blog post again. I’ll have another one coming up later..


  2. So glad you re-posted this, Clare, as I missed it first time round. It is a brilliant piece that captures our place as well as a state of mind which resonates hugely. Thanks again. j


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