This is another one of Molly, in ink. Apart from the drawing, an overwhelming sense of nostalgia when I opened the door reminded me of the regulars that I also missed. I don’t know them very well, sitting as we do in complete silence for most of our time together. However, I often got chatting to one or the other while sharpening tools and they remember details from years ago. One of them asked if I was still doing the tumblr, naturekids (nope). The other asked if I’d been in Cornwall all this time (nope). It’s a small group and there’s hardly ever a new face. Which is why the guy who organises it was very surprised when I said it’d been a year (almost two years, I later realised). They are older, and so they don’t age. One of them will always be a retired architect. Another seems pompous and I wonder what his life is like. I’m relieved to go down into the basement, with the blazing heat (nudity in autumn) and the occasional pint from the pub upstairs. No one in the room is cool and everyone just does their thing. I rarely find concentration like this elsewhere.
Last time I went life drawing was January 2012, 21 months ago. I felt very rusty yesterday and had forgotten how to do it pretty much, so I vigorously rubbed my oil crayon over the paper as if grating a carrot (a technique with which I had familiarity after making a carrot salad earlier yesterday). Here is neon Molly.
The trees bled dark clouds into the dusk sky and gradually the stars poked their way through the leaves. He falls asleep drunk on overlapping roots that work his unconscious body until he wakes at dawn with spasms of pain throbbing up his spine and side.
My head is as clear as the empty bottle. Someone has hammered a tree into my back. Nature is loud.
The sky is getting darker! He’s drunk! The roots are hurting him, but he doesn’t know it! He wakes up! He feels the pain!
He told me once about the night he camped in the woods. He said he’d seen a wolf. There are no wolves in Wales. He must have been drunk.
It was neither a light nor dark but dusk sky and neither quickly nor slowly but gradually the stars poked their way neither over nor under but through the leaves. He is not sober, he is drunk. He does not rise, but falls asleep on nary a mattress nor a bed of leaves but on overlapping roots that do not massage nor comfort his unconscious body. He does not stay asleep, but wakes no later nor earlier than dawn with spasms of pain, unrelenting, throbbing up his spine and side.
The trees shhh shh shhh bleed drip drip dark clouds into the dusk sky and gradually – bip – bip – bip – the stars – Bing! Bing! Bing! Poke PONK through the leaves rustle rustle. He falls DOUCHE asleep zzzzzzzzzzzzzz drunk rawrawrawh on overlapoverlappinglaplapping roots ohmmmmmmm that work work work his unconscious zzzzzgroanzzzzz body until he wakes (breathe in) at dawn twitter tweet tweet with spasms throbthrobthrobbing up his crack spine crack and sides.
It would rise up from the dark untrodden soil at noon and settle with the night. It was warm peat and sweet decaying leaves and it would turn cold and sharp, clean as a glass of water. It was all one colour and the sound was the same colour. But tonight the smell was in his week-old beard, and in his sloped, bloodshot eyes swimming in a muddy lake. It was harsh whiskey and unwashed stale and it fell asleep with him, an old dead musty sleep, and in the morning it was rancid grey and it turned red with each throb of pain. He could taste it – it was pungent between his teeth.
How to interact with nature #1
- Position yourself amongst a multitude of trees and stare at them poetically until they release their essence onto the previously prepared neither light nor dark sky.
- Tilt a flask of high percentage alcohol deep into your being, and observe as your state makes itself manifest.
- Stagger your being into concentrated inebriation.
- Reflect on the transitory nature of your surroundings and the elusiveness of the one and the many.
- The opportune moment for sleep will present itself in the shape of a wolf, the reality of which is irrelevant.
Our protagonist falls into a coma on overlapping roots that work his unconscious body until rising at dawn with spasms of pain throbbing up his back and through his body.
He closes his eyes
As the brown dusk darkens
And sleeps on old roots
As you are aware, the boundaries separating and containing our respective lands were badly damaged by vagrants during the heady summer months. You may recall my previous correspondence on the matter, and I write to you now in a state of renewed urgency owing to recent distressing circumstances.
My property is secured by an impenetrable fortress on all sides, barring the angle adjacent to your own. It thus follows that any trespassers could only enter by traversing through your less secure holdings.
This preamble leads me to the incident inspiring my distress. My team of trusty scouts were out shooting the grouse not two days past. The smallest one of them, being closest to the crop, spotted a glint. He primarily took it to be the morning dew, but upon closer inspection it revealed itself to be an empty bottle of whiskey! You can imagine my consternation upon receiving this news. I implore you, as fellow landowner, son of a respectable gentleman, husband to the daughter of a preacher, and my very own cousin – this will not do!
Autumn is a time of worry for me. The great fruiting only happens once, for a mere few weeks, before winter gets to us all and freezes our spines til June. We were a few weeks late to go blackberrying yesterday. My sister, Pierce and I set out determined to find a few slowcomers in the bogs of Kildare. There were some berries around our destination bog lake, but we were disappointed to have to hunt for them after tales of their abundance in other parts. They were mostly small, near to the ground and battered looking, perhaps not surprising on a diet of bogwater. We wandered up a quiet, narrow road, flanked by farm houses and barking dogs. Blackberries do well in hedges alongside the road. Motorways are sometimes the best places. Something to do with the heat of traffic fumes. We picked a few and also found some surprise sloes. A man came towards us and inquired about our car, parked in a rut beside his house. He warmed up when we said that we were blackberry picking and walked away laughing. Farmers laugh at foragers, I thought. He reappeared a few minutes later to present us with a bucket of homegrown grapes. Grapes growing in the handful days of sun we have each year is a miracle to me. I picked a few rosehips in honour of my grandmother. We collected the bag of apples on the way home, donated to our cider fund by Pierce’s friend. The red ones are really sweet and tasty, so I doubt there’ll be many left for the press. Not pictured are elderberries, the last of them snapped off the elders in Naas. Also not pictured are the sloes, currently in the freezer and soon to be in gin. The results of one day’s foraging in the midlands.
Tune in next time for Is it too late for the mulberries?
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