The trees, the forest is glorious.

The tallest of trees crowning my insignificant footfall, my exploration nothing more than an itch on its nose.

umpqua treetops

The inspiration is soft, feathered. Maybe it is the broken light and the filtered brightness, but it feels more like home than my own familiarity.

old mans beard

Everywhere my eyes settle there is something to see. The old mystery of it all sounds within me, not the need to photograph and capture nor reach for my paint to interpret in any way I can …. towering or fallen trees. In each nook and cranny, beneath each stone and leaf I see little people, tiny stories.

Like these

The man with a river in his pocket

Buckles of gold bracket his shoes and white silk stockings straddle the spires of moonlit churches. He has stars in his hair and thunder rattles the tufts that tumble from his ears.

He has checked and double checked; viewed pastures like an embroidered map, rolled over deserts with the silent snakes, pierced the hearts of forests as a flashing jay. One by one he has worn the mountain’s crown to gently sit and gratefully rest.

And it is there as his joints recover and his breathing pauses its rattle, that from his pocket spills the trickles and dribbles of a river source. A spit to a stream in an instant, stillness to a torrent, just like that.

Embroidered with lint and speckled with fluff the salmon slips, wriggles and leaps and there, an otter glistens. Sleek and with purpose, emerging from a hiding place he gambols with new freedom amidst the flume and current.

The man yawns and stretches his spindly arms. Birds fly from his sleeve and fill the air. Starlings, murmuring a dance, cast billowing shapes across the sky and a single white heron flaps away and away.

While he scratches and rearranges his gangle and poise he runs his long fingers through his hair and a million spore are flicked, parachute and freefall to near and far, giggling and rooting their tiny toes in empty soil.

This is how our world began. Our corner, yet our garden, with laughter and joy. The contented sigh of the wind as the man breathes his slumber and plants joy with his bits and bobs and his here and there.

Every morning I shall tip my hat in his direction, at lunch I shall whistle his tune. And as I fall asleep in turn I shall throw my arm around his garden and love it for all its worth.

The man with a river in his pocket

The sky appears to listen, peering and leaning, shoving apart the reaching branches and muscling its way in. The dappled light sits like excited children, taking their seat and crouching to listen. Walking in the forest, I seem to exchange my belief in the day to day for something much more real. It is planted within me and my own creations are shoots of its reach.

trees and dappled audience

Ambrose Dear and the hollow song

In which we learn of sound for the sake of it

At the centre of one particular darkness, not too large but beyond a normal man’s sight, a self-proclaimed hermit paused. He waited, a man of all things out of reach.

He was a collector of songs of woe and poems of anguish. He favoured stories with agonisingly sad endings and despite his cloak shifting with a thousand moving shapes … they were all grey in colour.

Today he felt an unwelcome tremor in the collection of wind chimes he kept around his library of trees. There was an inkling of a tinkle, a peal but paused, the breath before a laugh.

He didn’t like it. Not at all. Not one little bit.

In this place, there was only despondent acceptance. The folk sang songs of resigned doom and gloom, odes of weary misery. In this dark place it was as if any bright sound was swallowed into the hugest muffle.

Ambrose Dear liked it that way. He had spent his life carefully cataloguing each failed attempt at glee, scribing every episode of wretched sadness and sighing breath.

There was nothing he did not know about the mundane; the still doldrums of this place… he was the master of the hollow songs and he would sing them wherever he visited.

But for a fleeting moment, a slither of a silvered second came a sparkling surprise. A tiny chink of something else made his static chimes clink together.

It had never happened in his lifetime and he didn’t like it at all.

With an uncomfortable resignation, he noticed his tea had gone quite cold, and the sun cracked the canopy.

Trees bear seeds and they grow regardless

As always, the inspiration does not dictate the outcome.

If I did try to capture the way the forest makes me feel then I know that I would fail. It is best, for me, to accept the gifts it offers with humility. The story then extends into what that gratefulness becomes.

The something else…. it creates magic in turn and for me that literal or visual note takes me back to the point of revelation. When I read these tiny pieces I know exactly where I was standing, I can feel the ‘green’ around me and the sunlight dapping my toes.

It does seem important, however, to not forget that Ambrose Dear was born of an extravagantly shaped root of a fallen Douglas Fir and the umber tones of the ripped up earth delivered him to me.

There is a story in that… a story of a story’s beginning.