Tuesday, 16 November 2010

My heart leaps up...

"My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man,
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety."

William Wordsworth wrote his poem in 1802, and there is something reassuring, as well as inspiring, to know that over two centuries afterwards, there are still shimmering rainbows to be seen in winter skies. This one emerged out of the rain as I visited Aberdeenshire last weekend...
Blue skies over London this morning, then dense fog descended, but I am still thinking of the Scottish rainbow...
This winter, I'm hoping to embrace the changing of the season, rather than mourning the lengthening of the darkness (I confess, my melancholy tendencies tend to surface in January, so trying to find remedies in advance). Does anyone have good advice to offer here or stories to share as daylight dwindles?


Knitting Out Loud said...

Here are the ways I get through the long, cold, dark Maine winter: a Cod liver oil/fish oil pill once a day, going for a walk regardless of weather, sitting in front of the fire with something good to read and a glass of mead, eating good food with friends, forcing bulbs and forsythia indoors and finally, a trip
(it can even be just a weekend to a place further north, but it is essential).

Polly Samson said...

I agree with Knitting Out Loud that a walk every day regardless of the weather always works magic. Your rainbow reminds me of a moment a couple of winters ago when I felt so overcome with melancholy I thought I might never be happy again. Even the dogs failed to lift my gloom and as we squelched through the sodden countryside I was thinking of the months ahead of nothing but bare branches and mud. I was slow and lumbering as if my very blood had turned to mud. And then, out of the mist a flash of red and turquoise and I stood and watched a kingfisher, only the second one I'd ever seen, a sudden miracle that lifted my spirits.

Vintage Tea Time said...

Yes, GOM (getting out more) helps me - though I have to say on days like today (grey and very wet), it's hard to take my own advice!! Tells self - go, girl - get out there....in a minute....I'll just read a few more blogs.....maybe make a cup of tea.... :)
Lovely rainbow pic - I often cry when I see rainbows - they're amazing.

Justine Picardie said...

Good advice -- thank you -- and Polly's story of the kingfisher reminds me that birds can be as magical as a rainbow. I occasionally see a heron swooping over the garden. I don't know where it has come from, or when it might return, but I'm always glad to see it.

enid said...

I decided that when I wake up early in the morning gloom of winter I will read and have tea and toast. You can try to see something wonderful in the cold wet winter days - try to enjoy them. SADS Seasonal Disaffection Disorder is very common but snow, bulbs, grey days and loads of reading time can be an asset. I know I sound very Pollyannish.What about our seasonal reads ?

Lilacs In May said...

I would love some seasonal read suggestions!

I will be planting Paper White daff bulbs for indoors this weekend, making Christmas cake and thinking of a project for January that can consume me in the dark January evenings. I think it may be editing family film footage on my Mac.

Justine Picardie said...

How about Cold Comfort Farm as a seasonal read? And obviously Wuthering Heights...

Lilacs In May said...

Yes! Great suggestions, thanks - Wuthering Heights first - it's a squally night and I think I can hear tapping on the window....

kairu said...

Polly's comment about the kingfisher reminds me of the Mary Oliver poem called, coincidentally, "The Kingfisher": "...I think this is
the prettiest world--so long as you don't mind
a little dying, how could there be a day in your
whole life
that doesn't have its splash of happiness?"

Splashes of happiness in winter: soft layers of cashmere cardigans and shawls, my winter parka that is as cozy as a sleeping bag. Flannel sheets on my bed. Ceramic cocottes filled with bubbling-hot macaroni and cheese. Hot chocolate, with marshmallows or whipped cream. Movie marathons curled up on the sofa - Jane Austen, Merchant-Ivory, Powell-Pressburger, Rufus Sewell. I reread Enchanted April on chilly gray days and dream of Italy in the sunshine.

And I think about traveling in India last spring, how it was blisteringly hot, like being inside a tandoor oven. Some days reached 45º Celsius. I stood there with the curious sensation that my brain was melting like a chocolate bar in your pocket and swore that I would never complain about feeling cold again.

Young at Heart said...

February is always me worst month ....when I can't imagine another day of damp, dull, dire weather, low slung cloud, gray faces with a gray out look.... so I go see a movie, as soon as the lights go down I'm gone. My favourite is a matinee, feels like I'm playing hookie from real life!!

silverpebble said...

I share those tendencies in the winter, so I started a project and invited others to come and share their colourful and uplifting on Flickr. For the first week of every month until March I'll be seeking out colour to shoo the winter greys away. It's an experiment really - can simply looking at colour help? Who knows, but the November images did lift my mood so it was a good start.

Here is one of my favourite pictures from the project:


Hope it helps!

Kim said...

I have so enjoyed reading the suggestions of others may I contribute the following thoughts?
On gloomy winter days when the "mean reds" threaten I find that scented candles, Fleet Foxes on the CD and a pile of December/January glossy magazines help. But the most effective remedy for me is becoming reacquainted with the literary friends from my sixties London childhood: The Ruggles from "A family at Onr End Street", The Fossill sisters, Anne of Green Gables, Milly Molly Mandy, Pippi Longstocking and a delightful little girl called Mary-Kate from stories by Helen Morgan. Last year I returned to a book I last read when I was 13 and on holiday in Weymouth: "How green was my valley" what power and surely crying out to be dramatised once again.

Lazywell said...

Yes, Wordsworth's poem captures remarkably concisely the spirit of nature and its power to move us at all ages of our life. The joy he expresses is echoed in the deceptively simple and uplifting poem by the late Canadian actor and writer Chief Dan George:

The beauty of the trees,
the softness of the air,
the fragrance of the grass,
speaks to me.

The summit of the mountain,
the thunder of the sky,
the rhythm of the sea,
speaks to me.

The faintness of the stars,
the freshness of the morning,
the dew drop on the flower,
speaks to me.

The strength of fire,
the taste of salmon,
the trail of the sun,
and the life that never goes away,
They speak to me.

And my heart soars.

Justine Picardie said...

I've just got home after a long day of travelling and talking -- to a very nice audience at the Bath Theatre Royal, but no thanks to London Transport -- and it has been a joy to read everyone's thoughts and comments and ideas and poems. I've been heartened by discovering what we share -- I am also a fan of Pippi Longstocking and the Family From One End Street -- and by new suggestions. What I love about blogging is the connectedness -- that reminder of E.M Forster, again, to 'only connect' -- which shakes one out of the mean reds or the winter blues.
Thank you so very much to everyone here...

kairu said...

A friend posted this poem by Louise Glück last week, and I can't stop thinking about it. The entire poem is here: http://thefloatinglibrary.com/2009/08/16/october-louise-gluck/

"You will not be spared, nor will what you love be spared.

A wind has come and gone, taking apart the mind;
it has left in its wake a strange lucidity.

How priviledged you are, to be passionately
clinging to what you love;
the forfeit of hope has not destroyed you.

Maestro, doloroso:

This is the light of autumn; it has turned on us.
Surely it is a privilege to approach the end
still believing in something."


"I was young here. Riding
the subway with my small book
as though to defend myself against

the same world:

you are not alone,
the poem said,
in the dark tunnel."

"October." Louise Glück, Averno.

Justine Picardie said...

Kairu, thanks so much. The poem is wonderful. I now want to read more...

jaywalker said...

Sorry to have to tell you that it is summer here in Oz and we have just returned from a lovely sunny week in Sydney, having seen Sir Simon Rattle conduct the Mahler No 1 with his wonderful Berlin Philharmonic. It was so uplifting and joyous and the audience was so well behaved and appreciative - 2000, sold out, in the Opera House concert hall - heaven!

As was sitting at Bondi Beach in the warm sun eating king prawns and drinking cold beer. And buying some books and DVDs and a lovely cheap necklace!

Which made me think of something a journalist friend said to me once - don't look for happiness, just constantly seek out moments of joy, which is what I think we are all talking about, including your rainbow.
I've just spent an enormous amount on tickets to see Cecilia Bartoli on her first visit to Australia but I know it will be another moment of joy!

And now I'm going to settle down to three of Penelope Lively's books just arrived from amazon.

kairu said...

I've just remembered that I've had Tove Janssen's "The Summer Book" in my pile of books to read! Will dive in now that it's grown so cold I wear gloves and the most ridiculous fleece hat (complete with earflaps) as I walk to work. We expect snow this weekend.

But tomorrow I am heading off to a bake sale to benefit our state's food distribution agency - they run food banks and school lunch programs and hot meals for people who can't afford them. I've made my standard chocolate chunk cookies but I hear murmurs of fruit tartlets and lavender-scented madeleines and all sorts of cookies...

Justine Picardie said...

Ah, the joys of the southern hemisphere. I keep hoping that an Australian literary festival will ask me to come and talk about Coco Chanel! I've done lots of telephone interviews with Australian journalists, but would happily arrive in person!
Kairu, I'm a big fan of Tove Jansson -- grew up reading her Moominland books, and really love The Summer Book (I think I've blogged about it here before, so apologies for repeating myself).

jaywalker said...

Justine - I wonder if there is something I can do about that? Our local Hobart bookshop has won national awards and has had lots of well known writers speaking - ex PM John Howard is there this week and last month it was Sally Vickers and we've recently had Jodi Picoult so why not you? I will put out a few feelers and see what happens. My partner is a retired journalist and has a few contacts.

Justine Picardie said...

Will keep my fingers crossed! x