Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Only Fitting


Only Fitting

It is expected, often assumed, that wisdom is always the fruit of age.  Even though we empirically know this is an inaccurate assumption, we still expect it.  So many whiplash experiences come hurtling through the trees to hit us squarely in the heart as we journey along this blue planet it is painful to imagine we glean nothing useful from them.  So when we catch our breath from the latest unexpected, unasked for, and unwanted sneak attack we often pause and we wonder…. is there anything of value here?  Have I been left with anything other than memories of a better day? Does there remain the knowledge of a divine alchemy by which I can create a balm for my soul?  One that might keep it open and unlatched despite the dreadful knowledge I now possess?  

A lot of words have been written about grief, almost as many as have been written about love.  This is only fitting, of course.  For as I wrote when Edward died, grief is indeed the price we pay for love.  Or as another person put it, to fall in love is to receive an engraved invitation to grief.  One thing I have come to realize in these few short weeks without my magical creature beside me is that those are the only two feelings we have.  Love, and Grief.  Mirror images of one another.  Great, expansive webs into which all the other emotions are captured and held.  The siren song of love is only heard by all the sweet spirits that flow from its source to fall like soft, warm rain on our hearts:  laughter, kindness, hope, joy.  While grief lures into its chasm all that is dark; we approach it with the trepidation it deserves and we cling to its sides till our fingers bleed lest all the goodness we long to preserve is sucked down and lost forever in its bitterness and fear. 

There is the old saying, oft repeated, that grief is only healed by time.  To the grief-stricken this is sometimes heard as a warning.  We don’t necessarily want our grief to heal, for healing implies forgetting and that’s the last thing we wish to contemplate.  To resign a great love to the occasional memory is anathema.  We want them with us always, in whatever form they choose to take - bitterness can seem preferable to nothingness.  No, any healing power that time imparts is the power of courage, for courage is what we need to continually wrest our souls back from the blackness of grief.  It takes courage to set grief aside and choose gratefulness instead.  It takes courage to turn one’s back on the trauma of loss and choose to love again - to choose to always love.  And make no mistake, grief is a formidable foe; it has the power to make this a difficult choice.   

If my age has imparted to me anything resembling wisdom, this one thing I do know:  Love is stronger than grief.  So everyday, in small ways and big ones, I keep on choosing love.  To do so leaves me unprotected from the welts of grief, I know this too well.  But it also keeps me from sliding down into its dark hole, abandoned and alone.  These past few weeks I have been buoyed by friends and readers who have known the sharp stab of grief themselves.  I will forever be thankful for their generosity of spirit.  But grief is a solitary journey; no one can walk it for you.  It is a deal you make when you choose to love.  Love.  And Grief.  Having sat in the halls of both, I will still choose love. 
xx
Pamela

Note: 
The Songwriter and I were scheduled to travel to Scotland last month.  When we received Edward’s shocking diagnosis, however, we cancelled our trip, never dreaming he’d be gone in eight short days.  So we are going in a few days.  I have written often about the magic bestowed upon me by the Highlands of Scotland and am looking forward to their healing powers now more than ever.  If you would like to follow along on this journey, you may do so on my Instagram page, HERE.   It is titled Pamela and Edward, and will always remain so. 

Also, so many of you have inquired about sweet Apple.  Thank you so much.  She is doing fine.  Much better than we have been.  We now realize she knew Edward was ill long before we did, something that is both extraordinary as well as humbling.  But if you’ve read Edward’s Christmas book, you will remember that Apple has many thoughts roaming around in her head, mostly ones to do with chipmunks, cheese and play.  Nothing ever troubles her in inordinate fashion and we are extremely grateful for that.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Like the Sky


“His absence is like the sky, spread over everything.” 
C.S. Lewis
from A Grief Observed

I will be forever grateful for all the kind comments and loving letters I have received about Edward.  He would have been astonished to realize he was known, much less loved, by so many wonderful people all over the world.  For myself I am humbled and grateful.  I promise to answer every letter personally.  For the moment, however, I am attempting to accept and navigate Edward’s absence.  It is much harder than I ever would have believed.  I shall return in time.
Thank you and love to you all.
Pamela

Monday, August 28, 2017

My Edward


“And when he dies, turn him into stars and form a constellation in his image. His face will make the heavens so beautiful that the world will fall in love with the night and forget about the garish sun.”

My Edward
It is with great sadness that I tell you that big, sweet, magical Edward has slipped away from us.  He was diagnosed with nasal cancer only nine days ago and our hopes for a three to six month grace period was sadly not to be.  He died as he lived, by my side.

One only has to look at the name of this blog to know what a large part of my heart was owned by Edward.  A cold wind is blowing through the hole that appeared in my heart at his passing.  He was a special creature from the first time I saw him.  He was kind, knowing, cheerful and extremely devoted.  He saw me through the death of both my parents and allowed me to hide behind his exuberant charm when I first began writing in a more public fashion.  His big sweet face adorns both of my books.   I have run with him down sandy beaches and along mountain paths.  He laid across my feet as I wrote and slept next to me in my bed at night.  I can only hope that I gave him a fraction of the happiness he gave me.  I like to think that I did.

Edward was almost fourteen years old, so his death was something we knew would happen sooner than later.  But as with all deaths, we were nowhere near prepared for the grief we now feel.  We take comfort that he spent the last year as happy as ever and his illness, through grave, was brief.  

Needless to say, I covet any prayers you may have lying around unsaid.  Grief is the price we pay for love.
This was a big love and now my bill is due.
Much love to you all, 

Pamela 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Something Lost




Something Lost

It was a day like any other.  We stood beside our desks in school, placed our little hands over our hearts and pledged our allegiance to a starry flag, believing what we'd been told: our country was exceptional, our country was the best.  But we were sent home from school early that November afternoon so we knew something wasn’t quite right.  I ran through the back door and raced down the hallway to find my mother crying in front of the television.  The lady on the screen was wearing a suit of vibrant pink but on our black and white set it appeared light grey and oddly streaked with something that looked like dirt.  My mother cried all that cold weekend and my father’s jaw was set in what I now know was an effort not to do the same.  As parents used to be able to do with their little ones, they kept the details from me.  I knew something bad had happened, but I didn’t know what.

They say our country lost its innocence that day.  Trust in our government, so strong during the great wars, began to chip away like so much old paint.  Conspiracies swirled around the death of our President.  Soon black men were being shot with fire hoses in Southern streets, their bodies thrown to the curbs like trash.  One hero was blown apart in a Los Angeles hotel dining room, another was picked off a balcony in Memphis by a bullet guided by a hatred both historic and insidious.  The dreams and hopes of many were put in the ground along with both men.  More innocence dead.  More body blows to a idealistic country.

Sheltered on my shady street, my own innocence remained safe.  When your parents love each other, and love you - when you’re white - innocence is a relatively easy thing to keep tucked away, pristine in a unpierced heart.   Hard as it may be to believe,  it has taken the events of this past year to drain the last drops of that golden elixir of innocence from my soul.  There’s a little left, but it’s not measurable.

This past year I watched my fellow citizens embrace a man so imbued with hate and mendacity he wore them with utter pride, never bothering to cloak them in neutral colors.   I watched as supposed men of faith called this man, “God’s choice”, urged Christians to elect him and, even today, stand by his every action with disgusting, inexplicable, devotion.  I have heard the vilest words come, not from the more expected dark corners of our culture, but from the highest pinnacle of our nation’s government.  I have watched as lies are praised and paraded.  I watched a president speak to our nation’s Boy Scouts in a way that was shudderingly crass, maddeningly crude.  Only this week I have seen this man’s repulsive narcissism nudge the world closer to an annihilating war.  Only yesterday I saw an evil swarm of his champions, now hoodless and emboldened in the sulphurous light of his support, bring their dark hatred to the sunshine of Virginia. 

Any innocence or idealism I may have secreted away during my youth is dripping away with alarming speed.  I thought we were better.  I thought we had learned.  I thought that those who taught me the ways of God believed the words that they spoke.  I thought there was a line that couldn’t, or wouldn’t, be crossed.  I now know better.  

This blog has always been a place for me to revel in the beauty of life.  It’s been hard to write these past few months.  Oh, don’t misunderstand me.  I know the beauty is still there.  I see it; I appreciate it.  It gives me comfort.  But to write continually about my joys and loves as I’ve done for the past nine years seems, at this moment, almost trivial.  At present we are in a battle for our souls, individually and as a country, and this battle weighs heavily on my heart and mind.  

A wise women recently said, “We don't think our way to hope. We take the actions, and then the insight follows. The insight is that hope springs from awareness of love, immersion in love, commitment to love.”  For myself, that’s all I know to do.  Each action I take, every activity in which I engage, I am endeavoring to do them with love.  Caring for The Songwriter, Edward and Apple.  Caring for my colorful little cottage.  Cooking meals.  Filling old vases with flowers.  Knitting.  Reading.  Making myself a cup of tea.  Sharing a smile and a friendly word with strangers even when I myself am worried and anxious.  Helping where I can, listening when I can.   Surrounding myself with brave people who know what’s at stake, who lift me up, make me laugh and bring a flicker of hope to my heart.  And perhaps as important, letting go of that which gives me pain.

Once lost, I’m not sure innocence can be regained, or even if it should.  But hope is different.  As Emily told us, hope is a thing with feathers.  It may fly away in a storm, but that doesn’t mean it will never again flutter down to perch in our souls.  That is what I wish for all of us in these days as we remind ourselves that what we are witnessing is not a great America.  It is not who we are.  It is not normal.  It is not Christian.  It will not last.  

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Getting the Joke


Getting the Joke

Looking back, I think it was the Kardashian covers that began to sour my relationship with American Vogue.  But the death knell finally rang when Grace Coddington,  the incandescently creative fashion director, left the magazine last year.  Her inspiring imagination had kept me tethered to my subscription, but when she departed I became nearly totally Anglophilic in my magazine reading.  British Vogue, British Bazaar, UK Town and County and UK Country Living tickle my senses completely and prompt me to visit my local big box book store once a month in an effort to procure them.   The recent covers of UK Bazaar have been beautifully irresistible and every time I finish UK Country Living I want to buy a pig.

A couple of weeks ago I approached the counter at the above mentioned store with my  latest British issues.  The young man who stood ready to take my money had a pleasant face and we smiled at each other in polite reserve.  Then, all of a sudden, a hiccup escaped from his mouth with a sound worthy of a tree frog in summer.  He looked horrified and I, politely, pretended not to notice.  Then, as is the way of hiccups, another one followed, even louder than the last.  I felt the corners of my mouth begin to twitch and I forced myself to meet the young man’s eye.  He was trying not to laugh as well.  Neither of us were successful.  We both started to giggle, his laughter punctuated by continual hiccups that only increased in frequency and volume the more we both laughed.  He was still laughing, and hiccuping, when I left and I laughed all the way to the car.

Let’s face it, human beings are funny.   In appearance, few of us are supermodels (and frankly, with photoshop even the supermodels aren’t as super as we are led to believe).  Most of us look funny.  Stand naked in front of a full length mirror and tell me I’m wrong.  We have quirky little fears, funny little habits.    Take for instance the lady I watched at the gym the other day, walking in quick step round and round the track eating a large size bag of potato chips as she did so.  I mean, funny, right?   As for me, I am eternally grateful for hands-free phones in cars these days for it makes the fact that I talk to myself much less noticeable.

While it is less than a scientific measure of good character, I myself have never quite trusted someone incapable of laughing at themselves.  Looking round the world today, I cannot conceive of a greater indicator of personal delusion that finding one’s every word or deed above the slightest humorous critique.  To take oneself that seriously can, in direct opposition to one’s intention, lead one by the nose straight into buffoonery,  a land where everyone gets the joke but you.  Sad. 

By way of illustration, The Songwriter and I were happily shopping last weekend in one of our favorite markets.   Our arms laden with fresh fruit and flowers we turned to leave and saw a small crowd gathered round the doors.  A storm of colossal proportions had blown up suddenly, rain was coming down in sheets and no one was eager to brave the deluge to get to their cars.    I was impatient.  I reminded The Songwriter that whenever we’re in Scotland we walk in the rain without complaint.  He reminded me that we were not in Scotland at the moment and he was disinclined to get drenched whilst carrying a full bag of groceries.  I tapped my foot.  I sighed.  Eventually, he gave in and we made a run for it, me squealing all the way.  I got in the car first and my eyes immediately fell on the door lock.  I can tell you it took every inch of compassion and good sense in my possession not to lock that door and watch The Songwriter pitch a fit in the rain.  It would have been funny, right? Oh, it would have been funny.   Even he would have agreed, though perhaps a bit later.   I am lucky to share life’s journey with someone who gets the joke.  Never trust a man who doesn’t.

****

“If you wish to glimpse inside a human soul and get to know a man, don't bother analyzing his ways of being silent, of talking, of weeping, of seeing how much he is moved by noble ideas; you will get better results if you just watch him laugh. If he laughs well, he's a good man.”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky 


Monday, June 26, 2017

The Green Place


The Green Place

Over millennia mankind has crafted a myriad of obstacles that hide the doorway to an inviolable part of the soul.  We cover the entrance with arrogance, we cover it with fear.  We visit it only in vulnerability, in brokenness, in wonder. It is a green place that lives in the core of our being, a place which, left ignored or untended, can, over time, turn utterly to dust, leaving us blind to the treasures we are offered in this life. It is an elusive part of the soul, but wisdom floats on its breezes and hope shines down in its light.  I cannot tell you how to get there, I doubt that anyone can.  But you’ll know it when you do.

I have wandered the hillsides of this green place many times, often guided by  poets whose words I cannot explain but understand as well as I do my own name.  They are the weavers of wisdom, people to whom a gift has been given, and so often their words are the incantation that unlocks this door to my soul, setting me loose to wander these illuminated fields like an inarticulate child glimpsing heaven.   Poet David Whyte has written, “Poetry is the language against which we have no defenses.”   And he’s right.  Poetry so often comes bearing a light of truth that only our soul understands.  We need it, especially now.

April was National Poetry Month here in the US and I gave myself a personal challenge of sorts to post a favourite poem each April day on my Instagram page.  Despite my concern that I wouldn’t have enough, I found I had many, many left over and I realized anew how much poetry has influenced and comforted me throughout my life. 

 At present, there seems to be a concentrated effort in the world to devalue the beautiful and denigrate those very things that make the soul breathe.  Empathy is weakness.  Wisdom is superseded by financial success.  When America’s president publicly expresses contempt for the poor and is applauded for it, we have not only turned our backs on truth, but we’ve closed the door on decency as well.   In this time of darkness it is imperative that we find that green place in our soul.  We must dig through any vines that have grown up over the door, dig till our fingers bleed and tears stain our faces.  Once on that hillside we will know we are not alone in our hunger for goodness.  
On that hillside we will hear Shakespeare say, 

“The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
‘T is mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown:
His scepter shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this scepter sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's
When mercy seasons justice.  Therefore, Jew, 
Though justice be thy plea, consider this, 
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation:  we do pray for mercy."

We will hear the echo of Mary Oliver’s question:
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
 with your one wild and precious life?” 

And we may resolve, like Amy Lowell:
“...For I have time for nothing
But the endeavor to balance myself
Upon a broken world.”

painting above by Gustave Dore



Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Waiting for the Bird to Sing: A Summer Reading LIst


Waiting for the Bird to Sing
A Summer Reading List

It often commences around two in the morning.  A song as lyrical as any angel’s, it drifts out of the trees almost casually, as though the singer has no idea how magical it is.  It is a song of pure joy, its lilts and trills like laughter through the darkness.  I often slip from the cool linen and go to the window seat - to listen, to marvel, to applaud.  I have no idea what sort of bird this is, or even if anyone else can hear him.  Perhaps he sings for me alone, a spectral creature visiting one he knows is awake and listening.  
And of course I am awake.
I am reading.

Summer nights, when the air is still as a stare and sits heavy on the cottage roof, I am often to be found reading.  The stack of new books by my bed is a teetering tower of temptations that I found impossible to resist.  There are books I brought home from John Sandoe’s in London, braving the risk of overweight luggage fees without so much as a thought.  ( I made it just fine.)  There are new books, and some old ones I missed.  There are suggestions from Instagram friends and one recommended by writer Anne Lamott when I heard her speak a couple of months ago.  I am making my way through the stack as though it were a box of favorite chocolates, each one more delicious than the last.
  
In these troubled times I find I'm reaching for both comfort and escape.  Perhaps you are as well.  
For escape there’s always Daphne DuMaurier or Agatha Christie. For comfort, I often find it in John O’Donohue, Mary Oliver, Wendell Berry and the aforementioned Anne Lamott.
I hope you’ll find a bit of both comfort and escape on this summer reading list of mine.
And maybe a few laughs, which are always welcome.
Just click on book photo to see more.

As for me, tonight I’ll be reading again,
 waiting for the bird to sing.

1.  The Essex Serpent
by Sarah Perry
I saw this in the window of John Sandoe’s in London.
Could not resist it.

2.  The Riders 
by Tim Winton

3.  My Cousin Rachel
by Daphne du Maurier
Read the book before seeing the movie.
Always.

4.  Churchill and Orwell
The Fight for Freedom
by Thomas E. Ricks

5.  Happy All the Time
by Laurie Colwin
Anne Lamott was right.
This book is wonderful.

6.  Grief Cottage
by Gail Godwin

7.  Theft by Finding
Diaries 1977-2002
by David Sedaris
Always witty and laugh out loud funny.

8. The Purple Swamp Hen and Other Stories
by Penelope Lively

9.  The Chilbury Ladies Choir 
by Jennifer Ryan

10.  Al Franken, Giant of the Senate
by Al Franken
Funny, smart, and wise.

11.  The World-Ending Fire
The Essential Wendell Berry
Selected by Paul Kingsnorth

12.  Sherlock Holmes
by Arthur Conan Doyle and read by Stephen Fry
A treat to be sure.

13.  Weatherland
by Alexandra Harris

14.  Highland Retreats
The Architecture and Interiors of Scotland’s Most Romantic North
by Mary Meirs

15.  For Love of Country
A Journey Through the Hebrides
by Madeleine Bunting

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Work We Must Do


Work We Must Do

Southerners are known to scoff at the calendar page of June.  With long-held authority it trumpets the twenty-first of this month as the beginning of summer, but of course we know better.  Already the heat lies heavy on the magnolia blooms; they burst open under its weight in a storm of lemon fragrance and a scattering of sticky stamens that shower the the newly mown ground.  Already the fan whirls. Already the girls are wearing white.  For any Southerner worth her salt knows full well that, here, summer arrives with Memorial Day, no matter what the calendar may say.  Memorial Day was this past Monday.  This, therefore, is summer.

Though it has certain pleasures to be sure, summer is not the favourite season of anyone residing at The House of Edward.  None of us, be they fair-skinned or furry, finds particular joy in humidity, or mosquitos, or heat.  But one of us in particular is especially disapproving of this season now upon us for it brings forth that most despicable creature known to dog, the heinous chipmunk.  Edward has always been too dignified to overly concern himself with these insignificant trifles of den and burrow.  He barely raises an eye when they chance to dart across the garden.  But Apple.  Oh, Apple hates chipmunks.

We were setting the table for breakfast when we noticed Apple wasn’t inside.  A quick glance out the window revealed her to be in her usual summer morning post, sitting on the stones of the courtyard staring into the cool shade of the back garden.  She will sit like this, still as stone, for hours - waiting, waiting, for that one errant chipmunk who would dare cross her path.  This morning, however, The Songwriter followed the line of her rapier-straight stare - out past the bird feeder, on under the poplar tree- till he saw…. a large… a formidable… raccoon.  He grabbed a yellow dustmop from the mudroom and headed outside at a clip.

Unaware of the danger she was actually in, Apple stared at the long-clawed raccoon with complete and utter focus.  She didn’t hear when The Songwriter called her.  She didn’t notice him heading her way.   Dog and raccoon were locked in a confrontational stance and any sudden move would make Apple bolt towards a fight she was in no way prepared for.  Then The Songwriter placed the yellow mop in front of her face and, pop!, her attention snapped.  Just for a second, but long enough for him to hoist her up and lug her inside.  Disaster averted.

Like Apple, it is, I think, difficult for some of us these days to recognize, or perhaps admit, the danger we just might be in.  There seem to be threatening creatures on every newspaper page, every television channel.  Each day brings something new to set our souls reeling.   It’s hard, almost impossible, to look away.  And should we?  As Margaret Atwood wrote in her horrifying book, The Handmaid’s Tale, “Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance.  You have to work at it.”   But is it work we should, on occasion, endeavour to do?  

Even in the face of escalating and frequently overwhelming concern about the state of things in my country, I have found there is a necessity to periodically look away, if only to gain the strength required to adequately, in my own small way, address these concerns with any sense or decorum.  It does not denote irresponsibility, rather it is essential for the nourishment of a healthy equilibrium.  I recently journeyed to London to lose myself in gardens, museums and the occasional custard tart.  It was as therapeutic as it was fun.  We took Edward and Apple to the mountains for a long walk in green shade.  I listened to the soundtrack of The Sound of Music the other day.  I read Beverley Nichols.  Tomorrow night, The Songwriter and I are going dancing.

None of the activities I’ve just mentioned are mere distractions.  Instead, I believe they function like that bright yellow dust mop waved in front of Apple to break her focus, a focus that could have only done her harm.  We need to turn away and lock eyes with Beauty as much as possible these days, for Beauty heals as much as It enlightens.  It is an oasis in this desert, one that stays with you even when you must trudge back out in the heat and sand to once again write your representative in Congress.  It is work we must do. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Tracings


“If I know a song of Africa, of the giraffe and the African new moon lying on her back, of the plows in the fields and the sweaty faces of the coffee pickers, does Africa know a song of me? Will the air over the plain quiver with a color that I have had on, or the children invent a game in which my name is, or the full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me, or will the eagles of the Ngong Hills look out for me?” 
Isak Dinesen

Tracings

There are fields of rapeseed in full bloom on the way to Kelmscott Manor.  School bus yellow, they appear to have been painted rather than planted on the fields outside my car window.  I ask the driver to stop at the top of the road leading to the tiny village; the pathway, lined with lacy faces of Cow Parsley and the drooping arms of newly green trees, is simply too tempting to resist.  Each house in the village of Kelmscott looks like an illustration in an ancient book of fairy tales and the sweet fragrance of white flowers envelopes me as I stroll past.  This is a road I’ve longed to travel for years.

The pathway ends in fields that carpet the vista in green.  The manor house is on my right, hidden by lichen-covered stone walls, and when I catch my first glimpse of it, so familiar to me from photographs and paintings, I still gasp at its beauty.  Well, of course I do, for this was the home of William Morris who once famously said, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”. Through the years, that quote, and the design philosophy and aesthetic of Mr. Morris, have been a confirmation that the way I saw the world was neither unique nor misguided.  And at Kelmscott Manor, William Morris practiced what he preached.

To wander this home that William Morris shared with his wife, Jane, and for awhile, his best friend (and Jane’s paramour), the artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti, is a dream come true.  I pause for a long while in Rossetti’s tapestry-lined studio, beside the long table where Jane would embroider and William would design, and could almost swear I hear sounds long past - the swish of a green skirt as it moves toward the window, the dusty scratch of a pencil on paper.  I have no doubt these beautiful, beloved rooms soaked up a bit of the creative souls that once lived here - a shadow, a whisper, a hint - for those who found themselves able to see. 

Before I visited Culloden Moor last September a friend told me she’d heard it was one of the most haunted landscapes in Britain.  “And”, she said, “if anybody feels it, you will.”
I did, and I have.   It’s never been difficult for me to sense the spirits of those left behind.  I do believe rooms and landscapes retain a bit of the departed ones who lived amongst them -those who loved there, or died there, who dreamed there or cried there - and like mists on the hillside, those spirits drift past, remembered.  They are in the wood and stone of family houses, in the blades of grass on battlefields.  Perhaps it takes a certain kind of spirit to recognize them.  If so, I’m grateful to possess that certain spirit.   
Climbing the well-worn stone steps of the Brontë parsonage in Haworth I could almost feel the light touch of Charlotte Brontë’s small hand atop mine as I ran it along the polished wood of the banister.  As I stood before the table where the sisters wrote, colours swirled and danced into paleness, almost evaporating, and I could nearly see the three of them sitting there, heads bent over their work.  At Monk’s House, the spirit of Virginia Woolf was so strong it was nearly tangible.  She was in the apple green of her sitting room walls, in the leaves that hung like garlands over the garden shed in which she wrote.  I had to turn back from following the pathway of her final walk to the river, so heavily did I feel her presence at my side, absorbed like rain into the very air around me. 

 I have never, I don’t think, seen a ghost.  But I have felt these faded tracings of departed spirits in the places where they walked.  And now I wonder, much like Isak Dinesen wondered in the quotation above, do these places now feel an inkling of me?  Did I perhaps leave a bit of my soul in these corners of the earth that I love so much?  Just an echo of my laugh, a faint scent of my perfume.  Could these rooms, these seasides and hills, possibly remember me?

Last Spring, high up on the moors of Yorkshire, I followed the oft-traveled way of the Brontë sisters, out over the hills to Ponden Kirk where the landscape falls away before you into greens and golds and the wind is a lion at your back.  Upon returning, I noticed I’d lost an earring and was surprised to find myself almost unspeakably happy to have done so.  For a little bit of me will stay there now, blown about by the gales, buried in the soil with the long ago footprints of Charlotte, Emily and Anne.  
The moors must remember me now.