walking with story

Today is my birthday and I had a craving for trees. We live near a woods, but we go there so often, I wanted somewhere different today. However, there isn't much greenery in my neighbourhood. I found a park on Google maps and we decided to head that way even though it appeared to be not much more than grass.

I have been whispering some dirt music in my heart for a while now, and dreaming it long through the night, and writing it into pieces of promises that might one day weave together to make the cadence of a whole story. But I need also to touch it with my hands, breathe it in like salty air and the smell of summer clover, lay it down on a cloth and contemplate its textures. So before my walk today I made myself a small satchel from an old handkerchief tied closed with some beautiful, gentle, handwoven wool sent to me, wrapped around a story, from West Marin in faraway California ....




I also took with me my current handmade notebook. (Its pages are cluttered with moons, forest debris, pieces of an unspoken language, reminders of the major arcana, and maps in words and drawings.) I knew that, on my walk, I'd almost certainly find words and hear things which would speak to my growing composition. This is what always happens when story is taking root. The whole world whispers and sings of it.




So anyway, I'd wanted trees. We found ourselves of course at the shore, but I happened upon an unexpected path climbing into the hills above the water. So we began exploring. And hundreds of trees I hadn't known were there drew me into their old, warm embrace.





Along the way, I gathered shells, flowers, leaves, butterfly shadows, wisdom from the person walking with me, earth memories, photographs, words half-faded on signposts, dreams in the yarrow and the clover grass, broken pieces of trees. We passed a spiky log that was obviously a taniwha, dragon, guarding a sacred space. We walked with sweet ghosts through their lingering energies - stopping sometimes, all of a sudden, with the sense that we were not welcome in one place, and yet held lovingly in another.

And we were hot, the scratchy, sticky hot of a pohutukawa summer. And there was lemonade and ice cream, the way there always should be on days like this.




A story is never really formed only by words going onto paper. It is also walked across the earth, and cast worriedly into a night sky to tangle with the stars, and inhaled from long hot afternoons or the chill of wind. It is ghosts and promises. A story is all the things we have lost somewhere in the world, and all the things we have gathered to ourselves.




I travelled today along beautiful paths and into old, powerful places, and I came back laden with phrases, glimpses, pebbles and memories, of the story I had carried there with me. It felt like the world had given me not only trees but also a heartful of treasures for my birthday.

22 comments:

  1. how magical to be born on 1/1! you write at the edge on the world; you were born on the edge of a new year. happy birthday, happy new year, may your treasures bring you magic and story all year long. <3

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    1. thank you :-) actually, it's the second of january here today.

      a birthday so close to christmas is not really magical - but its at least better than the boxing day birthday of someone I know. (and I keep forgetting you americans don't celebrate boxing day ... december 26th.)

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    2. Oh, sorry for the mix up! I should've glanced at my post date. I think it still counts as an edgy birthday. And yes, Boxing Day had me quite confused for a second!

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  2. Many birthday blessings to you Sarah : ) This is such a gorgeous post - I'm going to re-read and savour the language, and the feeling of Summer that you so exquisitely articulate. Just heaven. Thank you. xxx

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  3. Wonderful shots. Wishing you a magical day today on your birthday and every day.

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  4. Happy birthday Sarah! Love and blessings to you. Beautiful post. This resonates a bit because it reminds me of how I collect wild stories and earth whispers. Im always gathering little pieces of nature on my outings, putting them in a small bag and then placing them on my writing desk where I can weave their whispers into my consciousness and words.

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  5. What a beautiful gift for you Sarah. As much as I love the sea, as much as it calms me and heals me, I love the woods too. To feel the strength and the power of trees that were born long, long before me, is magical.

    I wish you the best birthday. Many happy wishes for light and warmth and promises. ♥

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  6. I am so glad you had a wonderful birthday, what bliss, what pleasures, what a life,

    blessings to you,
    Louisa

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  7. Happy birthday Sarah! Thank you for blessing my life so much. :)

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  8. Can I just tell you that "Otherwise" the poem by Jane Kenyon is copyrighted.

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    1. "Otherwise" is a word, and individual commonplace words are not copyrighted.

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    2. Even if it weren't a commonplace word, titles are not subject to copyright protection, under U.S. law at least.

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    3. (I just had to research this for something school related so I had the perfect opportunity to release some knowledge here!)

      And on that note, Sarah, I finished "Deep in the Far Away" and ohmygosh. Amazing, heart breaking, soul searing. It read well as a whole (it took me a few days) and I just didn't want to pull away from the computer. I can't wait to read it again.

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    4. Darling Raquel, thank you thank you for that tremendously kind feedback. It absolutely means the world to me. I wish I could hug you right now!

      Also, thank you also for sharing that bit of legal information :-) I ought to say that I truly appreciate someone's desire to protect the supposed copyright of an author. And it did introduce me to Jane's poem, for which I am grateful!

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  9. I enjoyed this lovely post ... Happy Birthday, Sarah !
    Wishing you a wonderful 2015 !
    Sylvia

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  10. Thank you everyone for your kind wishes, they truly warm my heart.

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  11. sometimes i forget that every experience we have, every gift we often receive unnoticed, adds to our big collection, our forage that builds us. your words help me remember - thank you for that. happy birthday, and may your new year be bountiful :) xx

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  12. Happy Birthday!!! you captured some lovely trees!!! And I love your little collection of treasures!!!

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  13. My birthday's on news years eve, so close to Christmas it seems to all mingle together as one in some ways. I love how your story grows organically from your walk, so beautiful.
    Jess xx

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  14. I guess time zone kind of screw up days sometimes, every time I read one of your post, it's already tomorrow for you so, I guess I'll always be a little behind. but it's not a bad thing, it's like you're in the future and I'm in the past trying to catch up.

    I wish you a very happy birthday, a bit belated. may you have many great adventures either in taking simple walks, writing stories or poems, or just staying in, and I hope you enjoy all the simple and wonderful things. have a blissful 2015.

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  15. happy birthday dearest sarah
    your writing mirrors your beautiful spirit.
    wishing you the blessings of love and magic...

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  16. such a lovely way to enjoy your sacred day.
    i always choose to be outdoors....
    even though here it is the depth of winter.
    lovely to see your treasures.
    i wish you a new year full of dreams come true.

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