Words and Clay and uncompleted forms.

As respite from writing I often take to the workshop, even in winter. Yesterday offered an opportunity to grasp an hour or two of sunshine and milder air. Making vessels out of the clay distracts and facilitates a space in my mind, so the next paragraph of the uncompleted novel can begin to emerge.  

The porcelain seems ready to become four simple forms and I leave them to reflect upon their position and resolution after the clay and I have joined forces, handling each other well in such a variable climate.   

Tomorrow is murk, wet, and the clay looks back at me with a glistening sheen as I open the door.

I do not linger, neither the forms nor I need to acknowledge more than a ‘salut’. I will take them into the kitchen on Sunday to dry a little; ready for the turning, firing and combining with the fine artist’s leather.

 A collection of vessels.

An installation of fused resonances based upon the ancient birch wood in the fen. A reminder that earth, form and decomposition are fundamental certainties and will remain so when we have disappeared and nature reclaims its place. Untrammelled. I am at that point in my story.

The ancient birch wood stands upon black peat as it has always done, the land around drained into manageable and navigable droves and dykes, tall reeds still in abundance. Old roads many have crossed and travelled. A palpable presence.

Parts of the wood are almost inaccessible unless one knows a way through and can sense the way out again. There is immense stillness always, so the smallest sound is an audible detail.

A day in late summer, warm and full of light, the path taken between the field and the inner sanctum of the cool interior. A red deer stared and I at it, both of us stopping for an instant, then it gone and I moving silently on. The image transformed into a dragon fly next to me in the bracken on its way to the water’s edge.

The fen wood can be seen from the train as it passes on its way to or from the cathedral city, set in its shallow saucer of land, flat for as far as the eye can trace. The horizon, just visible at the far end of an old ocean bed now fertile, dusty black and overworked. I have looked out at the wood, from the train, for as long as I can remember and have always felt that I am almost home. This is one place of belonging.

The birch wood gifts its secrets to the unassuming eye, soothing a too busy mind.

The clay clears the head and focusses perspective; I have the fragments of the next chapter.

Yeats’s hazel wood gives up a silver trout and a glimmering girl, the juxtaposition produces a faerie image of transformation, one might be in danger of stretching the point here, although it would fit the poet’s provenance.

Both birch and hazel wood are redolent of the natural process of things and of time passing.  Both are guardians of the silver apples of the moon, the golden apples of the sun.  

Jenny Dunbar

ParaDon Books Publishing

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