My sidebar is stale!
It has been carrying the same comments, the same pictures, the same labels, the same old same old for probably two years now. Maybe even more.
It is time to have a change - time to shake my shoulders, roll my eyes and fly a bit.
What is it that I find wise and wonderful right now, this minute?
It seems that it is not only my sidebar that is stale; it seems that I, myself, have grown old and dry and covered with dust. I think I have been reading too many blogs by young, vibrant women. Blogs about Art and Book Clubs, and Style and Dubsteps, and besides that the weather is moody and miserable and it is making my bones ache. You can tell we are in the middle of a Low Pressure System and I have been wandering too far away from home in Blogland!!!
On the plus side I have been reading Essays from 'The Best American Essays, 2009' edited by Mary Oliver. And in particular an essay by Chris Arthur who expounds the virtues and attraction of the genre of the Essay. As does Mary Oliver, in her Introduction.
They are 'preaching to the converted' here. I have always liked Essays, - both reading them and writing them, - they seem so complete and so 'tight' in their brevity and focus I am not speaking of the Essay as utilized by schools and Universities where they are used as a way of assessing a student's comprehension and writing skills. I am speaking of what is called a 'Familiar" essay written on a one-to-one basis - the writer to the reader. They may be critical or they may be personal or a combination of both, but they have a warmth to them that keeps one reading and pondering, almost like a conversation.
Chris Arthur is writing about his memories of his childhood home, and in particular about the pillars that guarded the gateway. He says "I always see Shandon's pillars lit by mellow sunlight. Even as it warms my recollection, I know this distillate of a hundred perfect summer days cannot be real........while not 'true to life' in the sense of constituting a faithful reproduction of a camera's snapshot, is, at a deeper lever, far more accurate than any photograph could claim to be. Memory's version captures a truth about the place..........Memory can offer up the richness of imagining where a photograph would only dole out the thin gruel of the visually literal".
I grew up in a city, and do not have the same childhood memories of adventures in large outdoor spaces that he speaks of, but I have heard our children talk about the memories of growing up in the country - the freedom they had to explore, the caves, the waterfalls, the ravines and the small wildlife that inhabited the valley, and I wonder if they always see the days 'lit by mellow sunlight'?. And I wonder how their memories are coloured by the richness of imagination.
And even though my memories are confined to city spaces one of my most familiar and satisfying is of a shortcut to school through a lane lined with wild roses, and the heady fragrance of that space in June.
What a lovely comfort memory is to us as we reach the 'ancient' years - and I have distracted myself from the task of sprucing up my Sidebar. But watch, I will be on the lookout for wise words and beautiful images.
Chris Arthur has a new book of essays, "On the Shoreline of Knowledge"
and on his website are these words.
Anyone who can look attentively, think freely and write clearly can be an essayist;
no other qualifications are needed.