Sassenach Swallow

Migration notes from North to South and…….

Summers Passing

This tiny wee lad has joined our clan! Our sixth grandson and at only two weeks old he has already beguiled us all! Welcome little Francis!


‘..and we are put on Earth a little space,

That we may learn to bear the beams of love.’

William Blake

Bella, my gorgeous granddaughter however  still reigns supreme over all these young bruisers…some of whom are already taller than me!

There has been much ‘clucking’ at Scarlett’s Garden cafe these last few weeks as you can well imagine. Loads of surrogate grannies have been waiting expectantly (!) , needles clacking for weeks and weeks! Not least this one but without the needles….!

The ‘twigs’ for the nursery have been slowly gathering over the summer and Daughter in Law One is now very happily ensconced with the little man in a beautiful bower attended on by doting Dad and a stream of delighted visitors!

The cafe garden needs less attention as  summer is withdrawing so I have been gadding about recklessly before my immanently more settled life pegs me down. Work, commitments and bills are peering over the horizon in an ominous fashion but for the present I am still eking out the last vestiges of my sabbatical for as long as dare…and mourning the swallows as they move on without me.

Loaded up with tent and chattels, Dartmoor and my Wild Wise family have been the prime attraction.

The Day Millicent Found the World
William Stafford

Every morning Millicent ventured farther
into the woods. At first she stayed
near light, the edge where bushes grew, where
her way back appeared in glimpses among
dark trunks behind her. Then by farther paths
or openings where giant pines had fallen
she explored ever deeper into
the interior, till one day she stood under a great
dome among columns, the heart of the forest, and knew:
Lost. She had achieved a mysterious world
where any direction would yield only surprise.

And now not only the giant trees were strange
but the ground at her feet had a velvet nearness;
intricate lines on bark wove messages all
around her. Long strokes of golden sunlight
shifted over her feet and hands. She felt
caught up and breathing in a great powerful embrace.
A birdcall wandered forth at leisurely intervals
from an opening on her right: “Come away, Come away.”
Never before had she let herself realize
that she was part of the world and that it would follow
Wherever she went. She was part of its breath.

Aunt Dolbee called her back that time, a high
voice tapering faintly among the farthest trees,
Milli-cent! Milli-cent! And that time she returned,
but slowly, her dress fluttering along pressing
back branches, her feet stirring up the dark smell
of moss, and her face floating forward, a stranger’s
face now, with a new depth in it, into the light.

Thanks to the initiations of weekends on the moor I can now sleep like the dead through raging storms, run through the darkening woods at night unperturbed and have found my Story Telling voice. Campfire councils should, yes really should be mainstream for all ages.

And as for a Medecine Walk…..’When I stand in the thrumming darkness and look up at the startling stars I know i am truly alive. Walking towards the campfire in the pre dawn glow I discern my friends in thoughtful reverie, siloueted  round the early flames – hugging steaming mugs and breathing smoke. We head off individually shortly after into the dewy chill where moon sized cobwebs scintilate as the sun clips the horison revealing filigrees of pearls. I sit back to back with Scots Pine who reveals her secrets to me when i become still.’

if you move carefully
through the forest
like the ones
in the old stories
who could cross
a shimmering bed of dry leaves
without a sound,
you come
to a place
whose only task
is to trouble you
with tiny
but frightening requests
conceived out of nowhere
but in this place
beginning to lead everywhere.
requests to stop what
you are doing right now,
to stop what you
are becoming
while you do it,
that can make
or unmake
a life,
that have patiently
waited for you,
questions that have no right
to go away.
— David Whyte
from Everything is Waiting for You
©2007 Many Rivers Press

Somewhat shamefully I delight in remaining unwashed for days and being barefoot at every opportunity….we have in fact, discovered our feral nature. Always one for woodsmoke and foraging, now its part of the life I breathe… Its coming back to the world that’s the tricky bit…Even Small Hound is a camping Hound now!

I watch amazed as children are urged to ‘eat nicely’ or sit for hours in chairs when in truth, lying in tall grasses watching butterflies, snuggling down under the stars or eating with ones hands is so beguiling. I know there is a happy balance but it would be a tragedy never to have experienced the land as lover, the world as animate ‘ and there for us to be free in’. Thank you…David Whyte. I fear that many people today never get this opportunity or would not even want to if they did.

Our most recent weekend was extended for some by a few days thanks to the visit of Bill Plotkin and Geneen Marie Haugen who came to Schumacher College for Coming Home to the Animate World.

I tell you, this was life changing stuff and if you haven’t read Soul Craft, Bill’s book, you are in for a treat! Spending time at Schumacher College is also life changing having been co- founded by Satish Kumar of Resurgence fame; everyone works, studies and contributes to most aspects of running the college as a community. It attracts leaders in their field from around the world who recognise here the opportunity to expand horizons and create sustainable methodologies for our time.

The River Dart snakes around Dartington and its depths and stillness have a special quality; attracting heaps of families who picnic and swim in its dark smooth waters.In fact all the rivers round here have had kids leaping and plunging into their warm pools on hot days…its a joy to see. Summer as it can be but sadly soon to come to an end as coats are appearing among the flip flops and sometimes it’s chilly enough for a fire at night.

The Sussex loons need a granny this week as Offspring Two is also off gadding. Here the hedgerows are black with sloes and small blue plums; they resonate with the tick tick tick of wrens and startled blackbirds. The early morning windows are rimmed with white condensation as the nights cool and oh that fire feels delicious in the evening. The early dawn has a deep silence which takes me back to childhood  mornings on the Downs but it soon disipates with the light and distant roar of traffic. The persistant rain has left the clay fields swamps…..

Back to the West next week to settle some more twigs, this time in Ilminster. It still feels odd to be ‘settling ‘ in England but Grannies are useful at times and I need to land somewhere for a while. But not for long. I have felt the wind under my wings…….

Once we get the keys to this new burrow  I will be ably assisted in this flitting and decorating business by Offspring One whose winter occupation it is to undertake tasks such as this……I am very fortunate as he is also very experienced at placating demanding old wifies!.

I will be wielding paint brushes and navigating ladders alongside him in between forging work connections round about. The former is not my forte as anyone who knows me knows….. It always amazes me that paint can spread so far so fast….However needs must!

Time will tell whether this is a long term pause or just a pausette but my guess is that the dark skies, wide empty roads and breathlessly beautiful land up north with draw me home before long as it always does. How could it not? My heart never ceases to beat with the call of the seals at Findhorn, the curlew on the hills in Glass and feel the Correen slate under my feet in Clatt. Sassenach by birth but swallow by inclination, and swallows always return home.

Revelation Must Be Terrible
Revelation must be
terrible with no time left
to say goodbye.
Imagine that moment
staring at the still waters
with only the brief tremor
of your body to say
you are leaving everything
and everyone you know behind.
Being far from home is hard, but you know,
at least we are exiled together.
When you open your eyes to the world
you are on your own for
the first time. No one is
even interested in saving you now
and the world steps in
to test the calm fluidity of your body
from moment to moment
as if it believed you could join
its vibrant dance
of fire and calmness and final stillness.
As if you were meant to be exactly
where you are, as if
like the dark branch of a desert river
you could flow on without a speck
of guilt and everything
everywhere would still be just as it should be.
As if your place in the world mattered
and the world could
neither speak nor hear the fullness of
its own bitter and beautiful cry
without the deep well
of your body resonating in the echo.
Knowing that it takes only
that one, terrible
word to make the circle complete,
revelation must be terrible
knowing you can
never hide your voice again.

— David Whyte
from Fire in the Earth
©1992 Many Rivers Press


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3 thoughts on “Summers Passing

  1. Gill Bishop on said:

    Inspiring and thought provoking as ever. You are a light in the sky and a curl of wind saying follow xxx

    Gill Bishop Sent from my iPhone



  2. Ha! Lyrical as ever you! Come join me when you can! Xxx


  3. Therese O' Driscoll on said:

    Congratulations on becoming a grandmother Lucy. Lucky little one. Beautiful blog. May you sing with gay abandon deeeper and deeper into this world. X Therese


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