the mentors of my childhood

This morning I made a few notes for a post I wanted to write about the most powerful influencers of me throughout my childhood. I was thinking about writers, artists ...

But afterwards I went for a walk alone in the woods, and the trees sang me wind-songs come out of my old mountains, and I decided the list should more rightly be forest, sky, small woodland animals ...

Then I came upon an ancient cottage. And I knew I'd been wrong all along.

My childhood mentors were dust; wooden walls lined with age and unrelinquished memories; shadow. And they were the ghosts of women who had made a home in feral places and who left their sighs, their lullabies and old home songs, imprinted in the silence of hand-wrought rooms and long-trod, dark-hung, beautifully eerie corridors.

They were grandfather echoes, filling me up with all that other people were and all I myself might be. And the creak of floorboards, teaching me that I walk on my heritage and can make it sound out in different ways by the paths I choose.

Through my childhood I also lived in some brand new houses - but it was the old places, dusty and hunched, riddled with spiders, sand, sorrows, that had enough wisdom to mentor the dreaming child I was.

Houses like Cailleachs, squatting on wild shores.


  1. This is so lovely. I too love old houses, though I didn't grow up in one. But going to older places, like my grandmother's house, I always felt there were voices there, deeper voices of the past, and strange little room with old things we could play with.

    This made me think of mentors I might have had. I do remember falling asleep to the sound of water. There was a stream outside my bedroom window, and also rain, of course.

  2. Ah yes. And the hidden places. The dry place under the front porch, diamond-shaped sunlight through the lattice. The secret place between a climbing plant and the wall, room enough only for a small four-year-old. The needle-scented spot under a pine tree. The soft cushion-y spot inside a laundry basket, washer rumbling next to it like a slick-skinned beast.

  3. seems that life before is now part of us
    thank you for this writing

  4. I grew up in an old house with an old garden full of old fruit trees and forgotten flowers. It was the first place I belonged. Thank you for reminding me of it. ♥