Monday 15 August 2016

Winter thoughts

I've spent the last little while re-reading The Darma Bums by Jack Kerouac, and then realised, much to my fascination, that Japhy Ryder, the inspiration for going, not on the road, but into the mountain, was based on Gary Snyder, whose work I love to read, and who has shared an understanding of oral culture, the importance of the commons, and what it means to be a person living in a more than human world.  I loved Gary Snyder's exploration of deep ecology as more than the wonders or beauties of the natural world, but also the horrors, the maggots, the underground life of forests, and what it means to hold a saw as a ten year old.  He also speaks of getting to know all of our neighbours in this world, including the plants and animals we share our lives with.

Linking back current ideas and inspirations to teenage inspirations and dreams feels quite wonderful, as though it is possible to thread new ideas into old, and see where some of the seeds were perhaps planted.  It's also been a good time for reflections.  Winter in Cape Town is cold and wet, and often the time I like to think through old work or ideas rather than try to work towards new ones.  I tend to find I like to think or dream during winter, and as we head towards spring, I start to wake up, and find the idea of new thoughts (and new writing) more appealing.

We live close to table mountain in Cape Town, and the beautiful mists are a part of life.  We also get to see what is called the 'table cloth' or the clouds coming in over the mountain.  In winter, the shadow from the mountain means that the sun goes down early and the feeling of being in shadow can be quite solid.  Being away from the mountain can sometimes feel quite liberating towards the end of winter.  The shadow can feel quite heavy.  At the same time, I tend to find that working within this space of deep shadow can be interesting, a space of deep thought rather than a quick jump from one idea to another.  Winter's also the time for fires, a time when I catch the scent of woodsmoke when I walk to pick up my daughter from school, and a time when long walks are a welcome relief from being shut inside.

I'm starting to look forward to spring, even just for the opportunity to start wearing short sleeves again, and to get to feel the air on my skin.  The winter fires have been wonderful, but the chance to sit outside in the morning sunlight, to properly awaken from winter shadows, and to start to explore new aspects of my work feels exciting.  I think I am starting to wake up again.

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