a proper winter
Pen + Ink
My Friend Gideon
This is my friend Gideon, he is a philosopher and he has always been here. After meal times he takes a small cup of black coffee and sits in an armchair in the library by the window. When I walk by he always waves and nods his head. He told me that he often sits there meditating with his eyes wide open, and often at night when I walk past the window from outside, it's just him and the mouse sitting there. When he left I cried, first he went to Oxford, then France and so on, perhaps he will go on forever. When he left he gave me a rainbow coloured fish to look after, the fish could say only two words: "Sweet dreams"
One day, Nic said to me after we had finished our 108th prostration in the chapel, "you know it quite unusual what we are doing right now, most people would think this was odd." To be honest I hadn"t really thought of it like that, but when i did i realised she was right. We met every morning at 6am, it was winter and I walked through the graveyard by the light of the moon when it was there, I often stumbled down the path hoping ghosts didn"t really exist. She was always there before me and I knew she was there because I could see the candle flickering through the glass window. I would push open the heavy wooden door and step into the cold damp air of the chapel. We knelt in front of the golden cross and did our prostrations, always 108, its tradition. We took it in turns to count. Praying and exercising is a great combination. Im not sure who we were praying to, but every time my head touched the floor it felt sacred. After we had finished we would kneel in silence, catching our breath, awaiting the glistening dawn and bird song. The robin was always the first to break into a joyful tune.
The Tunnel Cave
One day I was out walking when my left knee started hurting, I kept walking for a while and then stopped, I looked to my left and behind a scrubby thorny hedge row, was a forested slope. For some reason I thought that going up the slope would help my knee, so I made my way through the blackthorn and brambles, and up I went. I was quite surprised to find as I walked, that the slope led down to an abandoned quarry, hidden and overgrown, I inspected the area and thought about a local priest who used to hide in quarries and pray. As I walked down and back up another steep slope, I saw something very peculiar. I went around, up and down, then back on myself through more brambles, and there under the hawthorn, was a big black dark hole, surrounded by earth and rubble. By this point I was quite scared, who knows what one will find in a tunnel-cave. I ran back to the silence of the nunnery and left my friend Nic an urgent note saying an important adventure was awaiting us.
We set off the next day, 8am, torches in hand. When we arrived just as the sun was rising, I think we were both pretty scared to go down that dark hole, but we knew we had to. We descended into the steep entrance of the dark, slippery, damp hole, slowly we went, cautiously descending step by step, down we went, further in, until eventually the tunnel-cave seemed to come to a dark ending. I now know that the tunnel-cave actually goes on forever, but we weren't quite ready to understand that. Each time I returned, I found it went further and further into the ground, I found a lot of things in the tunnel-cave, I found darkness, fear, an umbrella that belonged to my friend Paul, rocks, bats, spiders, flies, drop of water, gold, friends, information, graffiti from 1898, a hermit, and a couple of soulful troglodytes. My knee stopped hurting soon after I entered.
The Blue Scarf
One day, it was Christmas day, or maybe the day after, it is hard to tell when days don't make sense anymore. My friend Tom was ill and working too hard, so he decided to leave the monastery and de-robe for a while. He had arrived many years before, at the same time as the wind. On the day he left, the wind was stronger and wilder than ever before. He knitted a woolen river to go around my neck, i have been wearing it ever since, i'm wearing it now. I hope Tom comes back to the monastery one day.
I was on slug patrol duty at the nunnery and I decided to stay up all night in case any big ones walked by. I took the stripey chair from the poly tunnel and placed it by the backdoor. I had heard that lugs usually use the back door. I sat down in the chair and waited, I must have fallen asleep as I woke up just before sunrise and saw not a slug, but a mouse! The rainbow chard was looking sad and withered so I pulled it up and saw that the root had mostly vanished, only small teeth marks were left. I sat all day on the stripey chair now on mouse patrol and saw 4 sightings. By dusk the mice had gone to bed and the slugs were back.
One day I was walking and I met a very small dog. I knelt down to stroke it and it licked my hand. I decided to sit with it, just for a moment. We were busy exchanging strokes and licks when we started to hear a squabbling noise from behind a wall. It soon became clear where the squabbling was coming from as nine very strange looking birds appeared. The birds were black with white spots (just like my trousers) and they had wrinkly grey bits on their heads. The very small dog and I were sat very still so the birds decided to come and see who we were. I had an inkling that perhaps they were already friends with the very small dog. They came closer and closer, squabbling the whole time, until they got close and scared and ran off squabbling. I got up and said goodbye to the very small dog and carried on walking. A little way down the road the dog started barking at me, I looked back and I saw a big yellow sign that said “SLOW DOWN PLEASE”. So I did.
My first new year with a nun
This is my friend Venerable Candā, she is a nun. Today I found out that Candā means one who is illuminated like the moon.
Will and I had spent all day preparing the fire for new year. A few years before a big apple tree had fallen down, and we had some very large pieces of wood to burn, We also found a piece of wood from the old part of the house that was hundreds of years old. Whilst we were making the fire, everyone was inside the hall meditating, listening to the sweetest sounds. We were drinking hot chocolate and giggling about those walking meditations where you decide to become a kangaroo. It wasn’t long before everyone came to join us and we sat around the fire in silence watching the old wood burn. It was golden, and the pieces of paper burnt quickly inside. I slept by the fire that night, under the moon and the darkly barked Elm tree. The wind was so strong and the raindrops large and heavy. Two days later I walked by the fire pit and the old wood was still smoking.
Pen + Ink
That night I strung my hammock between two trees on the edge of the beach. I watched the moon rise and move across the whole sky. It was too cold to sleep, wind was coming from the forest and frost settled on me every time i closed my eyes. When the sun eventually rose the sea filled with glitter. A tiny wren landed on me in a morning search for food. The fire from the night before had been rekindled and the moon was starting to set.
It's autumn and golden beech leaves are falling all around me, when the wind blows they fly into the sky, covering the grey clouds with glittering gold. A flock of birds visit me often, thousands of them, landing all around me, in the branches and in the leaves on the floor, feasting on beach nuts which would rain down from the sky. Little wings, brown tufts and pinky orange feathers, black diamonds as they fill the skies. A robin lives in a young beech forest near by, flocks of pigeons joyfully pass, buzzards whistle overhead, merlins weave in and out of the spruce trees in the forest.
I spent 48 hours in this spot. I was so overwhelmed with the beauty, so i drew. After a few hours of drawing, I went to sit in the spot I had drawn my self in. I looked back at where I had been sitting and I could see my life from a different perspective, and i could not work out if I had ever really been there or not.
The Three Trees
Loz and Chewy were hungry. They had been delivered a pot full of delicious food earlier that evening, by an old man with long grey hair. They looked everywhere for the pot, but it was nowhere to be found. "Maybe he tricked us?" "Maybe he took the food away?" "Maybe he wasn't real!" they confusingly proclaimed. They decided to find the missing food. They walked through the forests, it was dark and the moon shone faintly. They crossed the great river, large fallen trees and made their way through spiky bushes, but they couldn't find the food anywhere. They headed back along the gravely track and heard a quiet noise deep in the pine forests. They walked towards the noise and saw a tall tall tree they knew very well. They gently threw their arms around the tree and held it silently, and the tree wrapped it's branches around them. When their arms fell, they found themselves still and tall and rooted. They could feel the moonlight on their bark. The forest was black and still and silent, apart from a faint noise in the leaves, a gentle rustling and snuffling. A large boar slowly appeared in a patch of moonlight, it snuffled around what was once their feet, and noticed nothing of the three trees that stood silently tall.
One morning I opened my eyes and peeked over the edge of my hammock to see the almond eyed mandolin player stood on a carpet of berries. "zzzzzzzzzzzziiiippppp. zzzzzzzzzzzziiiipppppppppppp." He pulled tight his shoe laces. He pulled them so tight they stretched to the top of his head. He held his laces in his hands as he continued his walk across the carpet of berries.
Håkan and the huskies
Håkan was sat on the toilet when the alarm went off. He had spent a long evening in the sauna and was feeling rather blissful. He decided it was probably him who set the alarm off so he decided to run away. He ran down the gravely track in the dark. That's when the huskies started to howl, and the swirls in the sky went from black and red to blue and grey.
He turned around to see a large pack of dogs with bright blue eyes chasing him. Their teeth were snarling and they had blood dripping from their jaws. Håkan's eyes grew wider and wider and his steps became faster. The alarm stopped and the huskies turned around and headed back to bed. Håkan was safe once again.
By the lake in Mora
The rain was pouring in the park by the lake in Mora. Seven bodies were huddled under a tarp holding each other close, sheltering from the pouring rain and the cold. The man in the middle of the huddle was weeping, his heart so opened with grief. His sounds flew to the furthest sides of the lake announcing to the world his pain. Around him, sat brothers lovers and friends, who held him and wept and breathed. They breathed the deepest breaths they could find.
When the sun rose that morning the man was gone, just a slither of moon could be seen as hundreds of jackdaws took to the skies.
cosmopoaesis + separation
Pen + Ink
Pen + Ink