Seasons’ Readings – and Returnings…

There’s something I’ve noticed about my reading in recent years. I seem to move through phases. Like the moon. Or the seasons. Quartering the year with rolling colours of moods; kaleidoscope changes that meld thoughts, like fragments of stained glass, into patterns – never exactly the same twice, but falling loosely into the same corner of the year; same time, same place.

I’ve noticed that around the autumn – September through to November – the excitement of the turning globe, the tightening drawstring of migration, the freefall of the trees – and the belt-loosening outbreath of the land as it settles down beneath its knee-blanket of frost – all turns me outward.  I want to be outside, or by the window – to be watching, noticing, swept up in the passing. I want to take records, to ponder, to be a naturalist, a citizen scientist; to look for the tiniest detail on a goldfinch’s wing; the last glint of a dragonfly on a leaf; the bloom of fungi in rotting wood.

For a short while, my reading turns almost wholly towards nature writing, natural history, landscape, sky. I immerse myself in it. Storing for the inner times. I pick up another book, and see the pages ahead as another portal into the grass, water, trees, mountains, clouds; the slippery cloak of the eel winding its way around me – delivering me into animal worlds.

And then, the season will turn. The kaleidoscope shifts. Nearing Christmas, maybe around solstice, the pattern gathers around light-gleaming colours of gold, green, red – firesides and indoor-coddled trees, laden with glittering reflection. Worlds within worlds; glimpsed, hidden.

My thoughts turn to Magic, Imagination; to back-of-the-wardrobe doorways whose frosted hinges crack open into eerie, snow-covered enchantment; to the silence of the forest; witches on brooms; armoured bears; goblets of fire; signs of power; hobbits dodging dragons with trickster words.

The pattern also traces its way into dark, mud-splashed streets, to crumbling houses filled with mystery; their gables and chimneys jutting jaws of stubborn secrecy. Ghosts and memories haunt these places, hovering close to their traditional places by the winter hearth. Clustered in this corner jostle stories tinged with the Gothic, with explorations of rooms behind locked doors, the creaking stairway; the chilly breath that extinguishes the candle.

Or, conversely, the tales invited to the hearth will beam with congenial mirth, placing around my shoulders a blanket against the freezing winds outside. Or best of all, the cosy and the mysterious will take turns by the firelight, mixing their roles within the very same tale.

During Christmas 2013, with the clan gathered together, there was little opportunity for private reading – but we pocketed ourselves away in those safely muffled days, and watched in shared contentment the season’s offering of films, many of them the stuff of the stories above. At the cinema, my daughter and I travelled amongst dwarves and wizards to meet the Elven King (via The Hobbit, Part Two, The Desolation of Smaug); and at home, the whole family journeyed, via television, to Narnia and into the world of Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart.

A wonderful, spontaneous ‘Family Story-Gathering’ occurred one day when, happening to check the Radio Times, we saw that, in tribute to the late Joan Fontaine, Hitchcock’s film adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca was about to begin on TV. Instantly, we bunched up on the sofa, ready to dream of returning to Manderley again…

2013 had its ups as well as its downs, but was generally a very difficult year, filled with worry and strain. The ever changing reading-kaleidoscope was still pulling my thoughts in various directions – but, each pattern was no more than glimpsed before it had to be shaken loose. There wasn’t much time, or spare mind-space, for actually sitting down to pause, calm the mind and open a book.

On my bedside cabinet there is a tower of unfinished volumes, left suspended at moments when my attention was scattered and my energies were needed elsewhere. At the turn of the New Year, I needed to re-gather and to rest. I needed to read. I hadn’t realised how much I needed to read; how unwell in myself I’d begun to feel without that natural, meditative rhythm the turn of the page gives as the year and days go by. Back in November, reading Julian Hoffman’s beautiful book The Small Heart of Things had been a glorious re-aligning of an inner, homeward compass. And, for a while, I’d also been carrying with me a very timely reminder gifted by the pages of Valerie Davies’s wise and wonderful blog – and I knew I needed to slow down what hours I had available, and to seek some ‘Hestia moments’ of proper, deep solitude…

I selected a volume from the ‘tower’ – slipped into a book-enclosed space – and all the fragments of my scattered self began to return; each one fitting, piece by piece, into its home-place.

I’ve already read more books in the last couple of months than I managed to complete during the whole of 2013 – and it has done me So Much Good. Whole books finished! Not experienced in halted fragments, not stalled by the thought that I should be blogging about one before I move on to the next. My reading has returned to the natural undercurrent of thought-flow, and to the wayfarer tug of change. Some of that reading will float up towards the surface of this blog – soon, or eventually; whenever the time is right. Some may stay deep amongst the fish-haunted rocks and not need to blink in the light to make its presence felt.

I’ve also been spending some time just ‘Being amongst my Books,’ drinking them in, dipping in –

A Section of my bookshelves

 

‘There is also that kind of reading which is just looking at books. From time to time – I can’t say what dictates the impulse – I pull a chair up in front of a section of my library. An expectant tranquillity settles over me. I move my eyes slowly, reading the spines, or identifying the title by its colour and positioning. Just to see my books, to note their presence, their proximity to other books, fills me with a sense of futurity.’

Sven Birkerts, Notes from a confession (1987)

‘I am quite transported and comforted in the midst of my books: they give a zest to the happiest, and assuage the anguish of the bitterest, moments of existence! Therefore, whether distracted by the cares or the losses of my family, or my friends, I fly to my library as the only refuge in distress: here I learn to bear adversity with fortitude.’

Pliny the Elder (AD 23 – 79)

Oh, yes!

So, in between daily family stuff, I’ve been in a kind of metaphorical cave; in retreat. But, it’s been far from an idle time. It’s been a returning. A regaining of energy and focus, allowing me to be more useful to those around me – and more productive too! I’ve found my way back, through paper, pen and daydreaming to unearthing old rhythms; finding space to let the patterns form and shift towards new ideas and inspiration. I’ve swum my way (over and around various mind-blocks) back into concentrated and determined working on writing projects which I’ve been longing (for a lifetime!) to follow through to fruition.

‘There is renewal in retreat.
This is where you refill the cup.
This is how a writer comes home.’

‘Creativity is a voracious animal. It needs to be fed regularly. If you leave it untended for too long, you run the risk of starving your passion and diminishing your spirit.’

From The Writer’s Guide to Crafting Stories for Children by Nancy Lamb.

Seasons-of-the-mind always seem to lay trails to follow – pearls made of serendipity and the gritty rub of the subconscious, gleaming their way from book to book, thought to thought.  Tales of selkie folk seem to be tugging me towards a certain roll of the waves. From Berlie Doherty’s beautiful Daughter of the Sea, to the enchantment of Heather Dale singing The Maiden and the Selkie, via a reading (many years ago now) of Susan Cooper’s Seaward, I see ripples behind me that have helped drive me back into the water and towards productive creativity.

One of the books I’ve been dipping into since starting to write this post is Women Who Run with the Wolves, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, published by Rider (Random House Group)

Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, published by Rider (Random House Group)

With the current kaleidoscope turn of my mind already on the lookout, my eye was drawn to Chapter 9 – Homing: Returning to OneSelf. There, Pinkola Estes explores the selkie/ sea maiden stories – and tells Sealskin, Soulskin, her version of these ancient tales ‘told among the Celts, the Scots, the tribes of northwest America, Siberian and Icelandic peoples.’ From Pinkola Estes’ explorations, I could pick out dozens of quotes that chimed for me – and which I’m sure, though the book focuses on women, are true for men’s experiences too. Here’s a handful:

‘The psyches and souls of women also have their own cycles and seasons of doing and solitude, running and staying, being involved and being removed, questing and resting, creating and incubating, being of the world and returning to the soul-place. When we are children…the instinctive nature notices all these phases and cycles. It hovers quite near us and we are aware and active at various intervals as we see fit.’ (p.255/6)

‘Home is the pristine instinctual life that works as easily as a joint sliding upon its greased bearing, where all is as it should be, where all the noises sound right, and the light is good, and the smells make us feel calm rather than alarmed. How one spends one’s time in the return is not important. Whatever revivifies balance is what is essential. That is home.

There is not only time to contemplate, but also to learn, and uncover the forgotten, the disused, and the buried. There we can imagine the future and also pore over the scar maps of the psyche, learning what led to what, and where we will go next…..

…..The most important thing I can tell you about the timing of this home cycle is this: When it’s time, it’s time. Even if you’re not ready, even if things are undone, even if today your ship is coming in. When it’s time, it’s time. The seal woman returns to the sea, not because she just feels like it, not because today is a good day to go, not because her life is all nice and tidy – there is no nice and tidy time for anyone. She goes because it is time, and therefore she must.’ (p. 284)

‘In the story, the seal woman dries out as she stays too long…… When a woman is gone too long from home, her ability to perceive how she’s truly feeling and thinking about herself and all other matters begins to dry and crack. She is on “lemming status.” Because she is not perceiving what is too much, what is not enough, she runs right over her own edges.’ (p.278).

‘Long ago the word ‘alone’ was treated as two words, ‘all one.’ To be ‘all one’ meant to be wholly one, to be in oneness, either essentially or temporarily. That is precisely the goal of solitude, to be all one. It is a cure for the frazzled state so common to modern women, the one that makes her, as the old saying goes, “leap onto her horse and ride off in all directions.” (p.292)

– From Women Who Run with the Wolves, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

Circumstances, and various mindsets, have kept me on the rocks for far, far too long (years and years!) The recent arrival of another birthday made me even more conscious of how Time and Chance need to be grabbed before the tide carries them away. And, having donned my sealskin/ soulskin (at last!), I feel quite shocked (in a liberating way!) how very covetous I am right now about keeping it wrapped around me. I’m back, riding the wave of the storyteller impulse, which has been rooted in a kind of ‘home season-of-the-mind’ for as long as I can remember. And, during this intense simmering-stage of creating longer pieces of writing, I feel a huge urge to hide away with my notebooks, to put an impenetrable tangle of seaweed around my section of sea, and to immerse myself there completely every precious moment I can. To write, write, write.

Opportunities to do that, and to research, read and to think – and to keep this blog going – all have to share the same very limited pot of time. I’ve already been away too long from my undersea “cave” (struggling over this ‘first-hurdle-post’ back into blogging/internet-mode has taken me an unbelievable number of days – leaving me feeling less like I’m running with the wolves, and more like I’m howling at the moon…) It’s been so, so hard to drag myself away from my notebooks, and I must get back. The Muse (always a tricky character) is drumming her fingertips impatiently – and I’m anxious to keep her by my side. But staying in touch with you, the lovely and inspirational blogging community, is so important to me too, and I want to keep on surfacing in the blogosphere whenever I can. As well as all the unfinished books, there are lots of half-written blog posts left over from last year; lots of fragments waiting to complete their full patterns…

I’ll do my best to keep Bookish Nature rolling along, but the shape of the blog may have to become a bit more quick-moving and streamlined for a while; a good adaptation, I hope, for darting in and out of different waters – and for making sure that blogging remains part of the sealskin/ soulskin adventure…

Thanks so much for sticking with Bookish Nature during my long silence.

More posts are on their way…

Spring is here – and a whole new season of reading is shifting into pattern…

Book Selection

Lesser celandine

More book treasures!

Wood anemone

 

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24 thoughts on “Seasons’ Readings – and Returnings…

  1. Hello Melanie – lovely to hear your voice again. I’m glad to hear that you have been reading. Being on cave retreat is fine indeed (I feared you might have been caught up in the floods, for some reason thinking you near the Levels!). And it’s so good to be reminded of the Wolves. A friend gave it to me for my 50th a few years ago and I found it so inspiring. I made a doll for my daughter after reading Vasalisa the Wise 🙂 And those red shoes! Such a rich collection of tales. Looking forward to your posts, as and when, in whatever shape. Liz

    • Hello Liz – Thanks so much for your lovely message – such a nice welcome back! The Levels are near enough for day trips, but we live quite a way north from there – and our house is up on a hill (in a generally hilly area) way above our local river’s reach – so, thankfully, this area wasn’t affected much by the floods. But what a miserable winter for the folk over the other side of the Mendips! Such a difficult time for so many people.

      Oh, that’s such a beautiful idea to make the doll for your daughter! I love that! What a wonderful reminder of the story’s mother to daughter, way-finding inspirations. I’m still wandering slowly through Women Who Run with the Wolves (so much in its pages to take in and to ponder – like eating very rich pots of cream – I’m dipping into it a bit at a time). I jumped ahead of myself a bit with reading the Sealskin, Soulskin story – and there are lots more chapters still to explore. Like you, I’m finding the book so inspiring. I was gripped by the Singing over the Bones story – and indeed the tale of Vasalisa the Wise! More visits to the work of Angela Carter (one of my favourites) are beckoning too, I think. I’ve not yet read The Bloody Chamber (I loved Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ telling and analysis of the Bluebeard story in Wolves) – and I recently bought a wonderful Folio Society edition…

      Very sorry to be late replying, Liz (son is on his Easter school holidays – you know what it’s like…) Very much looking forward to catching up with your blog…

      Melanie

      • Thanks for the lovely reply Melanie – I loved your fresh eyes on the Pinkola Estes and am looking forward to more posts. Enjoy the Easter holidays 🙂

        • Thank you, Liz! It was a bit of a full-on time – but we did manage to get out amongst the bluebells and sunshine, so some lovely and relaxing days came our way too! Hope you and your family are well and had a lovely Easter break. It’s taken me until now to start to get back on track! Looking foward to catching up further soon…

  2. This is a beautiful post, thank you! I, too, am a seasonal reader. I loved your description of the types of moods each season leads you to. You also reminded me that “Women Who Run with the Wolves” is sitting on my shelf, waiting to be picked up…

    • Thank you so much for your kind words. So glad the seasonal reading struck chords for you! Hope you enjoy Women Who run With the Wolves. I’m still journeying through its pages, dipping into it a little at a time – I keep finding myself pausing to absorb and reflect on all the many “Ah-hah!” moments of recognition!

  3. Thank you for another beautiful post. I feel very privileged to be mentioned again, in Daughter of the Sea, but even better, you have introduced me to Heather Ward’s lovely song. Your writing and your thoughts always give me great pleasure.

    • That’s so lovely to know, Berlie – thank you so much! I so admire your work, and am over the moon that you read my posts and enjoy them – your comments always give me such a boost! I’m really looking forward to reading The Company of Ghosts – my lovely daughter and husband bought me a copy for my birthday! 🙂 🙂

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the selkie song. My daughter and I came across Heather Dale’s music on Youtube, and have since built quite a collection of her CDs! I love it that my daughter can find music like Heather’s – songs that really speak to her, and draw on so many aspects of human thought, concerns and complexities – all framed by inspirational stories. Currently, we’re looking forward to following the progress of Heather’s recently crowd-funded Celtic Avalon project, a touring show which will have a school’s educational programme attached to it to talk to young people ‘about inner strength, anti-bullying, using your unique talents and skills, embracing differences, and defending others positively.’ She’s a breath of fresh air!

  4. I am so glad to read another one of your posts. Belief me, you have such a way with words. There is such poetry here. And thank you for giving praise to the act of reading, not for any purpose but its own sheer pleasure. Boy, there is so much to praise here. But I was particularly struck by the phrase “Hestia moments”. What a perfect description. Thank you for such a beautiful post.

    • Thank you so much for your, as ever, very kind and generous words, Don! Reading them has been another really encouraging boost – and a lovely welcome back to the Blogosphere! Very much appreciated. Credit must go to Valerie Davies and her beautiful post ‘Talking about Silence’ for the “Hestia moments” phrase. Valerie’s explorations of the Hestia archetype led me to that one! Thank you again for leaving such an uplifting message!

  5. Thanks so much for the old magic – so good to switch on the laptop and have something like this waiting there! It seems an age since the turn of the year… I started studying again, all my energies going into that – reams of words and thoughts and discovering; and then my father passed away – an experience I’m saving for a post when the time is right, though at the moment it feels like life is underwater – though I can see the green shoots through the reeds…

    So lovely to take a journey along your bookshelf – and all the different moods and atmospheres of the year. Next week we’re off to the Hundred Acre Wood (though I didn’t realise when booking) so hope to catch up on spring, books and all the other things to be grateful for.

    Fantastic to hear that you’re writing again – will be a great day when we can all enjoy the feature-length magic…

    • Oh, I’m so sorry to hear the news about your father… I do hope your sojourn in the Hundred Acre Wood will bring glimmerings of sunlight and moments of surfacing… Ashdown Forest is so beautiful – lots there, and in the surrounding countryside, that has that elusive capacity to allow some unfolding, whilst the gradual processes of inner worlds move at their own pace and in their own time.

      Talking of opening up time, space and solace, there’s a book which I think you’d love, if you feel like visiting it alongside your trip – or sometime in the future… It’s called How the Heather Looks by Joan Bodger. She was a storyteller and passionate advocate for the importance of stories in children’s (and adults’) lives. In the book, she writes so beautifully and sensitively about what unfolded when she, her first husband and their two children took a trip of a lifetime from America to Britain (in the late 1950s) – on a quest to find the places they knew so well from British children’s literature. They travel all over the UK, seeking the slow-winding-river-world of Wind in the Willows, the ancient greenwood of Robin Hood, the landscapes of the legends of King Arthur, Beatrix Potter’s garden, the lakes and islands of Swallows and Amazons etc… In one section, they go to Sussex and visit A.A. Milne’s widow in her cottage on the edge of the Hundred Acre Wood, where they meet the real Winnie the Pooh – and later go in search of the landmarks they had explored many a time via Milne’s writing and Shepard’s illustrations. Whilst in Sussex, they also visit Kipling’s home, Bateman’s – and Puck’s Pook’s Hill. The whole book is like a time capsule – scooping up all kinds of details that distil the essence of Britain at that particular time. There’s so much that I recognise; lots that was still true in the 1970s – or which, at least, was still very present in the collective memory. And it’s so fascinating to see it through the eyes of Joan Bodger; someone from the outside, who was both enchanted and puzzled by it all.

      How the Heather Looks was that first book I opened at the turn of the New Year – and which helped to gather in those scattered bits and pieces of my old self…

      Thank you so much for your, as ever, lovely and encouraging words.
      Hope your trip brings some balm. Take care. Be kind to yourself…

      Melanie

      • What a perfect recommend – duly ordered in time for packing! Thank you so much. And a few ‘snaps’ on the book shelf, particularly the Hardy… I rewatched the 1960s version of Far From the Madding Crowd the other day: seemed even more beautiful – and natural – than I remembered, and now looking forward to days lost in the landscape!

        So many thoughts and threads I could blog, but they will just have to eddy away like pooh sticks – that’s no bad thing, maybe one or two will snag on the bank and grow again (like the walking stick in Enchanted April, or The Glastonbury Thorn – that does sound a bit grandiose for such small things!). We have to take the time we have and put our energies where the soil is richest perhaps…

        Take care, and looking forward to the occasional Bookish ‘postcard post’!

        • I’m so late getting back to you, I’m sure your trip is long past now! So sorry about that – all sorts of juggling just left me running in circles for most of the Easter holidays. Just wanted to say I’m so pleased that Joan Bodger’s book appealed as the perfect travelling companion! If you did manage to read it on your travels, I hope you enjoyed it and that it helped to add to those green shoots and sunlight moments glimpsed through the reeds… Talking of sunlight, what wonderful weather we had during your holiday time! Perfect pooh sticks sunshine! Hope the beautiful blue skies followed you wherever you went…

          I’m not surprised there are lots of ‘snaps’ on our bookshelves! I love your Enchanted April walking stick and Glastonbury Thorn images of renewal and regeneration – perfect symbols for an unfolding when the time and soil is right… I love Enchanted April. You’ve made me want to go and watch the film again (I’ve got it on DVD). It’s pouring with rain here at the moment – makes me think of the opening of the story… You’ve also got me wanting to revisit the 1960s Far From the Madding Crowd film – it’s ages since I last watched it. Must get the DVD for that one too…

          Hope you found moments of renewal and replenishment during those days lost in the landscape…

  6. Hello Melanie, it’s so good to see you back blogging. Of course, I know you have other things on your mind; and I know also the time and effort it takes to write even a mediocre blog post, never mind the quality posts I read here. But even so, the hiatus had been so long that I had been on the point of sending you a gentle and polite reminder – something along the lines, perhaps, of “Oi, Mel! Get on with it!”

    Apart from Dickens over Christmas and a few creepy ghost stories over winter, it has frankly never occurred to me to organize my reading by the season. I know I should be more in tune with the rhythms of Nature than I currently am.

    However, my reading and the outside world did chime quite eerily during the recent floods, when the waters were high in our neighbourhood: we were very fortunate to escape unscathed by the high waters, but, were it not for the unmistakably English Suburban School of Architecture of our neighbourhood, the bottom of our street would have looked for all the world like Venice. At the time, I was reading “The Rainbow” – more particularly, I was reading the passage where Tom Brangwen returns from the pub after a few drinks, finds his farm flooded, loses his footing in the swirling waters, and is drowned. I felt that to be a salutary warning, and kept off the booze till the waters had fully retreated!
    (I am glad to read above that you were unaffected by the floods: many people in our neighbourhood have been very badly affected by it.)

    In your collection of Folio Books, I can recognize “The Good Soldier”, and the set of Chekhov stories. (When the waters were threatening, the books from the lower shelves were the first things I could think of to carry upstairs!)

    Well, welcome back to Blogland. And while I appreciate that your posts will be more “quick-moving and streamlined”, I do hope that enough will remain of your characteristic writing style that we all enjoy. Whatever – I look forward to it.

    All the best for now, Himadri

    • Himadri – thanks so much for this lovely message – and for your patience! Please forgive me for taking so long to reply. I’m really, really sorry to have stretched out the hiatus even longer! I had such good intentions, and then the Easter school holidays stole them all away (I ought to know by now that when my son’s at home all day, there’s no hope of blogging/reading/writing-time squeezing its way in to any kind of reasonable schedule!) With one thing and another, this is the first day I’ve had a chance to catch up! Anyway, it was a treat, as ever, to read your comment – and feel free to send me those “Oi, Mel! Get on with it!” polite nudges towards the finish-line whenever you like. I could do with such reminders quite often, I think! I’m typing against the clock here a bit, trying to focus my brain – and not doing very well, as I’m using my husband’s lap top (mine keeps tripping out the electrics for the whole house every time I try to plug it in – needs a new cable, I think – and its battery has run down to almost zero!) It’s weird how an unfamiliar key board feels so – well… weird!

      I can’t say that the seasonal mood patterns which seem to tug my reading choices this way and that, carry much sense of being organized – as it’s more of a vague “reacting-to-the-here-and-now-moment” kind of thing. In fact, it’s all so subliminal that it’s only really been the last three years or so that I’ve really noticed there was a recurring pattern to my choices at all! But, when I told my husband I’d noticed it, he said “Oh yes, I could have told you that years ago!” He’d seen the patterns, even if I was still under the impression I was being totally random and spontaneous! Mind you, there are still some maverick choices that buck the trend – which is all the better, as that keeps the elements of total surprise and sudden whim nicely wide open! And then there are all the new, unexpected avenues often prompted and inspired by reading about other bloggers’ book discoveries etc. I like to be kept on my toes! And, of course, certain favourite writers always beckon all year round, so they don’t count as a seasonal thing!

      It’s so good to hear that you and your family – and your books – escaped the reaches of the terrible floods. Oh, my goodness, yes – I’d be the same – the books (and photo albums) would be the first things to be moved upstairs! I can imagine how eerie it must have been to be reading that scene from The Rainbow at the time! During my long hiatus, I lurked around the blogs from time to time – and I read some of your, as ever, excellent posts. I spied that you’d been reading The Rainbow. What an amazing and powerful novel it is…

      The Chekhov stories (well spotted!) were an amazing offer from the Folio Society – one of those re-joining incentives I’m never able to resist. I’ve recently spent some birthday money on a gorgeous edition of Eugene Onegin which, since I took that photo, has found a home near to The Good Soldier – next to On the Eve by Turgenev! I think a Russian literature reading-season might be on the cards!

      With my thanks again for all your encouraging words,
      Melanie

  7. Hello Melanie,
    How wonderful to see your name pop up again. I’ve missed you, and thought of you, and somehow knew you were doing what you were doing…but couldn’t clothe my thoughts in the glorious words that you explain your sojourn in the cave, and the moods of your reading … lovely

    Your writing in this post is exquisite, I have to keep going back to savour your phrases and images… whatever you are writing must be wonderful. Loved your book shelves, what lovely thoughtful collections of books… I had to give up Folio editions about fifteen years ago, they became too expensive at this end of the world and life-time !
    You’ve inspired me to go back to re-reading ‘Women who run.’.. so long since I read it… but re-reading, I find, is as much, if not more a pleasure than the first time of reading…
    Thank you so much for your generous mention of me and my blog… what a gift from a writer who I admire.
    I’ve been tardy getting to you, as I too have some drags on my time and energy, and have been struggling a bit to keep the blog going.
    What wonderful comments and followers you have, and so are your replies… your blog is a feast for the eyes and the mind, and heart, thank you, love Valerie

    • Valerie – thank you so much for the wonderful gift of this message! Your very kind and generous words mean such a lot – I so admire your work; the clarity, truth and accuracy of your beautiful prose – the sheer eye-opening, visual impact you capture and craft in perfectly chosen words. I always learn so much, and see things afresh, when I read your blog – like looking out over a clear sea, lit by many angles of light… I’m so glad that, because of this post, you’re enjoying rediscovering Women who run with the Wolves! I do hope you’re finding a rebalancing of your own energy and time, and are enjoying clearing some mind-space to really stretch out and to flourish. In many ways, it’s thanks to you and your Hestia post that I found my own way back to inspiration – I do so hope that those precious Hestia moments work their magic for you too…

      I’m very sorry it has taken me an age to get back to you. I’ve been itching to reply to all the wonderful comments here, which I value so much (all you followers/ commenters are such a lovely lot!) In the end, I had to give up trying to catch up with the blog/ writing etc over the Easter break. School holidays, by necessity, tend to demand total focus on mum-duties (especially as, over Easter, poor son had a particularly up and down period with his epilepsy). Thank you so much again for your warm and generous comment, Valerie. Have an enriching and inspiration-replenishing Hestia time! Love, Melanie x

  8. Welcome back Melanie! I too have missed your words and wondered where life had taken you… Thank you for (another) inspiring read this morning to remind me of the important places and things…

    • Thanks so much, Amanda! What a lovely and warm welcome back! It’s good to be in touch again. So sorry it’s taken me so long to reply – it continues to be a struggle to juggle everything. Just as I think the road ahead is getting smoother, more rocky outcrops arise to trip me up! The least of those is computer problems right now – my lap top is out of action, so I’m having to seek out borrowed times when my husband doesn’t need to use his! Really looking forward to catching up with you further – hope all is well with you and yours… x

  9. What a wonderful thought, to think that the stars and the seasons somehow control our hearts and minds via mysterious, invisible and silken threads. I find that my reading changes directions too, but since it is chiefly history reading, I will change centuries, even only decades. I’ve been in the 19th century for so long, I hear the Renaissance calling, and think I will take the time to travel back a handful of centuries.

    The quotes here are marvelous, and make me wish that my books weren’t stowed away in a cupboard – I have no book case large enough to house them? Therefore I can’t take the comfort of walking through my personal library and admiring the familiar wording on their pretty spines. Yet knowing they are close, it is an undeniable comfort.

    • Aubrey – thanks so much for this… I’m so glad you enjoyed the quotes and bookish wanderings. Your books stowed in the cupboard made me think of chests of treasure – opening doors on rediscovery and rummaging to find half-forgotten gems. I love that thought of changing reading directions in terms of time periods; following calls this way and that through history – turning the pages of centuries and decades as and when a particular feeling of affinity, or fascination, pulls us toward different times… For some reason, classical times are calling me particularly strongly right now – ancient Greece, Rome (I keep wanting to go back to all the texts on my shelves from the Classical Civilisation course I did in my first year at university many moons ago!)

      Like you, I’m also drawn to the 19th century – that’s very much my foremost period of literary interest. I’m very much looking forward to catching up with your latest posts. It’ll be fascinating to see where your travels through the Renaissance take you – another time period that can’t fail to seize the mind and imagination. A while back, I was lucky enough to attend a talk (at the Bath Literature Festival) by the historical novelist Sarah Dunant in which she took us on a rich and wonderful journey through Renaissance Italy – its art, stories, architecture – and the lives of fascinating women who carved their own niche from what was available to them in that world. She was looking for the faces of women in the art of the period – faces that sparked with life and character, and gazed straight out at you as real human beings, rather than trapped as idealised archetypes. I think you would have loved it…

  10. What a great blog. Thank you! So glad I stumbled upon it. Books, nature, seasons — three of my absolute most soul-stirring happinesses! Your bookshelves photo is beautiful. I too will spend time simply looking at my books and drinking in the sight and pleasure of them, running my fingers over their spines or opening one at random to admire its vintage bookplate or close my eyes and take a whiff of its pages. Your nature photos are gorgeous as well. I’ve only just scratched the surface of what you’ve got here, but I look forward to browsing more. All the best to you!

    • Thanks so much for your lovely, kind words, Terri! I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed looking around the blog – and that you found a happy medley of the things you love here. Really pleased that you enjoyed some happy virtual bookshelf browsing and nature-wandering via my photos…

      It’s so lovely to linger in the company of the books on our shelves, isn’t it – and to immerse ourselves in familiar favourites, and to launch into discoveries of newly collected volumes. Love the thought of those vintage bookplates – always a special treat to discover those; like hidden gems. Little windows into the past; and into the extended story of a book, as it reaches into the life of a that particular volume’s previous owner/ custodian… And, those gorgeous old book plates are so often little works of art in themselves…

      Welcome to Bookish Nature! Thanks so much for reading – hope you continue to enjoy browsing here…

      All the best,
      Melanie

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