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Springtime dance in an orchard

Pink candle

I have a yearning for beauty, a yearning for Spring and finally it’s arrived. Sunshine, birdsong, cherry blossom in the park – it’s beautiful and I want to soak it up! And I want to move, dance somewhere beautiful in nature too.

I love the beautiful dance prayer for Japan by Lee Atwell. Inspired by Butoh, Lee dances to celebrate our connection with the Earth and has recorded her beautiful and inspirational dances since 2009, The 50th anniversary of Butoh, on her blog.

Inspired by Lee’s dances, I went to the Stanmer Park estate to find a quiet space in which to move in nature. I discovered an apple orchard that I didn’t know about tucked away near the church. I like orchards, there is something magical about them. There are ghost memories in the moss, the lichen, the contorted branches and earthy dampness; …lovers meeting in secret, children steeling in to play beneath the blossom or to scrump, …a quiet pause in time, a moment captured forever. There’s a hint of something forbidden too – perhaps I was trespassing! Apple trees are steeped in folklore and symbolism.

Orchard dance I felt awkward at first but soon allowed myself to simply move naturally feeling a mixture of joy and sadness. With Spring here I feel like celebrating but there has been some sad news for my partner Kevin. I danced both this joy and grief in the orchard amongst the knarled and lichened Bramleys and Cox’s Pippins all awaiting to flourish their first leaves and blossoms.

Feeling grass beneath my feet – a tingling sting of young nettle, a dampness of moss. I moved to a light mosaic of birdsong and the silent conversation of trees.

Spring dancing woman

I am including this painting, Spring Dancing Woman, that was painted around New Year. Its definitely about Spring. It has a dotty technique, unlike some of my other dancing women paintings. I like the colours but I’m not sure about the technique!

Enjoy the sunshine while it lasts!

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not.”. Ralph Waldo Emerson

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In praise of trees

boat with tree memoryThe other day Kevin and I went for a walk to get out of Brighton. We headed for the River Rother. I grumbled – too many people, it wasn’t wild enough, too tame, can’t get away enough! I missed seeing the pleasant surroundings and wildlife so caught up was I in my thoughts and grumblings.

We came to a wood, “Smutts Wood”. The owner had put a notice up explaining how he was planting trees where the previous owner had felled them. He had included the quote that has been attributed to Chief Seattle and that I’ve seen so many times. I am always moved by it whoever wrote it. It begins:

How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us.
If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?
Every part of this earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clearing and humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people.

and ends:

Man does not weave this web of life. He is merely a strand of it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.

When we got back the sink was blocked which didn’t help my mood. It was a balmy, black evening and I sat down disillusioned and gazed into space. Soon my attention was drawn to the photos on my ‘Trees for Life’ calendar, photos of trees in Bhutan for the month of August. I took down the calendar and read the accompanying text finding myself so engrossed that I read all the passages for the proceeding months as well. A change happened, I found myself contemplative, still, …..inspired! Trees had rescued me from my negetive mood. Check out the Trees for Life website.

I sometimes don’t see what is immediately around me, trees closeby, even here, right in the middle of town, forever present. Forever, I hope.


So today I am praising trees.

trees creak with the rhythm of the wind.
boats carry this memory in their wood and creak to the rhythm of the slow-swinging sea…a breathing, creaking bough that could send a baby to sleep.

the boat remembers the tree,
has memories of the tree
has memories of the forest
it knew the forest like it now knows the shore
it remembers the baby it carried, lulled to sleep by creaking bough

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