Friday, 21 November 2014

Hearing the grass grow, and the Squirrel's heartbeat

Dearest Em,

Looking around and thinking about the subject for my November paint challenge, I was as usual uncertain. It seemed very easy to find August- the hot summer and the rich tapestry hereabouts meant a very quick decision. September also came in a flash whilst on my bicyclette travelling homewards. October a little harder in thought- but again the opportunity presented itself en route to work.

October's piece became all about the beginnings of Autumn- as the climate has been pretty temperate, and the oranges and reds were just starting to overtake the lush greens of the landscape. As I have cycled along the same path since, it has made me notice all the more, the subtle daily changes as the season progresses.

November, at least to my mind- should be harder. Historically November and February have been my least favoured months of the year. They held for me a kind of not-very-much-ness, even here by the wild and windy coast- I have to admit. The poem for November that always came to my mind was 'No', by Thomas Hood.

Now, adding in a double-move challenge to our new little house and my new shop- leaving it to the first of November and what chance might show me- was causing a little dilemma. I've committed myself to twelve paintings, painted at the time I see them, and I don't want to fall at the fourth fence because the practicalities of life get in the way.

Lucky me then, as the opportunity to cycle to the Bookroom was afforded by the weather. As I turned left off of Blackbridge road and onto Afton Nature reserve, I wished I had worn wellies, not suede boots as I had to hop off and walk through the muddier bits of path. Then, there was a tree that had fallen almost across my tracks- so I hopped off again. Daddy did his 'Tough-Mudder' challenge recently Em, this is GiGi's equivalent.

Anyhow- as I squelched through the mud with my heavy-framed 1970's bike- all of a sudden a Squirrel ran across the path in front of me. I whipped out my camera as he shot up the fallen tree and I snapped away.

Here he is...

He even looks as though he is looking at me!

At the Bookroom, I trawled the shelves for books about Red Squirrels. It is a widely known fact that they are still surviving on the Isle of Wight, though the Grey ones have overtaken the species in the rest of the British Isles. I've glimpsed him before- and another further along the Causeway, but never been able to capture one on camera.

Let's name him 'Squirrel Afton' Emily, and imagine him a descendent of Beatrix Potter's Squirrel Nutkin, his brother Twinkleberry, and his cousins, who rafted over to Owl Island to collect nuts.

I hope we see him again Emily, let's search on one of your visits.

For me, and my project, I've discovered a few things.

1. Leaving my subject 'to chance'- prevails again, sureing up a sense to trust what comes up before me.

2. I shall eschew 'No' by the good Mr Hood as my choice of words about November. Instead- these words from Mary Ann in 'Middlemarch' by George Eliot summarise better my journey;

"If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel's heartbeat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence. As it is, the best of us walk about well wadded with stupidity."

Well that has told me! I shall trust what December offers. Now, back on with the unpacking and decorating.

Your ever-loving Grand-mother, GiGi xxxx