28 August 2012

still (here)

Still.  It's a rich word, full of potentially contradictory meaning.  An adjective - motionless, noiseless, calm, hushed, inert; peaceful, placid, serene, silent, stationary, tranquil; verb - quiet, calm, hush, pacify, quieten, silence, soothe,  subdue; adverb - to this time, yet; even; but, nevertheless, notwithstanding; noun - photograph.


Take the hare.  We saw him/her sitting low, very quietly nibbling away at the grass. We were driving along very slowly at Elmley RSPB reserve on Sheppey, and there he was.  None of the birds that we normally see were around, just a marsh harrier away in the distance and a heron nearby.  All was still.  At one point s/he sat up high to check around.  Still but definitely not inert, taking it all in.


And so it has been very still here too.  Far from the expected frenzy associated with the Games just along the way, the roads have been much quieter than usual.  Families disappeared for the month and those that stayed laid low.  We spent a few days at the seaside, then came back to calm, hushed days, drier, warmer, more tranquil than normal.  Some harvesting, weeding, general maintenance, gentle activity.  Some outings to the seaside, a bit of communal sewing, making more rhubarb and fig jam and courgette chocolate cake, picking blackberries for vinegar.  

But. Yet. Neverthless.  I could not understand why I had such low energy levels until reaching down to the books at the side of the bed one day, unable even to think about reading anything new, I opened Sara Maitland's Book of Silence at random and chanced upon page 198 where she describes her visit to the Sinai desert in search of a deeper silence where she might hear the spinning of the universe.  "Up in my desert eyrie I had another potentially more dangerous experience.  As the day wore on just as silently and even hotter, I would find  myself slipping into a kind of lassitude that made the effort to do very simple things, like drinking, feel immense."  Desert lassitude apparently.

So I find myself relishing the slow drying of the leaves, the gentle rustling of wind in the trees that signals the end of summer, the cooling of the air in the morning when I manage to stir myself early enough, a definite restlessness, the itching of a new season, a realisation that to shrug off my listlessness I need to take some action. 

Maybe make a list as a first step.

9 comments:

Gerry Snape said...

wonderful pics! you are very lucky to get so many of them! thankyou

Val , Kate, The Cute Kitten ,Razzy, Kepsey,Darwin ,Charon and Echo. said...

Lovely photographs..quite beautiful

I love the description Desert Lassitude....a list sounds promising

Felicity Ford said...

I too have read Sara Maitland - what a lovely quest for silence her book is and how apt to think of it beside the wonderfully pensive hare.

I am quite envious of how close you got to that magnificent creature, with his/her velveteen ears and noble, powerful face and I think the blackberry vinegar/chocolate cake etc. and a list for Autumn all sound wonderful.

x

knit nurse said...

I got quite excited this morning at the first hint of autumn in the air. When I consider how much I long for each new season when not even finished with the last one, I think it must be some kind of time-travel-bug.

Thanks for the beautiful photos, and hope that the blackberry vinegar pleases you as much as it does me!

Rattling On said...

Lovely pictures of the hare, I've never seen one round here. Unfortunately nothing is slow drying here, it's chucking it down again this morning. I notice from the local weather station that we've already had over a metre of rain here to date this year and the worst weather is yet to come...

Liz said...

Love your pictures of the hare, he's a beauty. A languid pace here, too, and yes, there's that unmistakable autumn edge to the air.

purejuice said...

have you written about sarah maitland? if not i wish you would.

purejuice said...

p.s. one of the very best things blackberry vinegar is good for is beet salad.

colleen said...

Jeanette - I notice I did mention the book once way book in 2009 in a post about brown and grey. I'm not sure I can give the subject of the book justice, but perhaps I should give it a try. You might like to look at Kathleen Jamie's review of the book here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/nov/15/book-silence-sara-maitland-review

I've just been reading Kathleen Jamie "Findings" which is wonderful and has made me think about birds, yet again. I don't remember reading her review of the Maitland book at the time, strangely.