Well my friends it's been a mixed bag of a week, and that's the truth. Family life seems to swing from rather wonderful to completely hideous at the moment, and I'm left fighting for breath and trying to catch up. Part of me is happy for the rain forecast for today. It means that I can stay at home and potter and do. I haven't slept well for what seems like ages, and my energy levels are low. I'm having a relaxy pants day. I'm planning some comforting food for our evening meal, and I'm already looking forward to an evening bath, clean pyjamas and bed with a book (I'm currently this, and rather enjoying it).
As always in times of strife and woe, the landscape of West Cornwall wraps it's rugged arm around me and pulls me close. Up the hill on Wednesday after tea, I played hide and seek with Olly. It was a glorious evening; warm and still. The sheep and their babies were grazing on the tough grass, and the buzzards were soaring high overhead. We spotted rabbits, and there were a few common blue butterflies flitting over the day-glo yellow gorse.
It occurred to me as I looked down upon the landscape below, that to some it must look barren and rather dull. There are no trees for one thing. They only thrive in the valleys and more sheltered parts of the area. Standing on the hill, you can see the bay of St Ives on one side, and the bay of Penzance on the other. It is a narrow peninsula, and the landscape has been shaped and defined by the weather fronts that come in from the sea, and sweep over it, battering anything but the most hardy into submission. Gorse, ferns and heather dominate here. The wild flowers that thrive are those that can form a carpet of ground hugging and incongruous display; dog violets, spurge, stitchwort, celandines and the like. Their beauty can only be appreciated by close examination, which normally involves laying close to the ground for inspection.
The landscape is strewn with rocks. Giant boulders randomly scattered over time hewn from tough, indomitable granite. These too have been shaped and moulded by the weather over thousands of years. When I lean against these beautiful beasts, or run my hand along them, they are unyielding and yet warm to the touch. They offer up a real feeling of safety when I am feeling scared and undone. I can trust that they will always be there. Standing proud, jutting out from the ground. And although they may look drab, on closer inspection they are a myriad of colours. From bluish grey to sparkling silvers. Their colours change with the light, and they seem to glow in the golden hour of the day's end.
The landscape is scored throughout by the stone boundaries of fields, created by the people who have farmed this area for generations. Some of them are ancient. They are exquisite works of art. They signify toil and labour. They enclose animals and crops. Their construction has always fascinated me, and they too, have this tactile quality that makes me want to reach out and run my hand along them. They support the existence of lichen, ferns, mosses and other small plants. They are a living, breathing thing.
Throughout my life I have always felt slightly out of place. I never felt like I truly fitted in. Being shy didn't help. Nor did the pink National Health glasses with a patch over one of the lenses. Even my skin didn't fit, as I lurched from childhood into adolescence and the free fall of adulthood. I have experienced truly awful periods of blackness and despair, and wondered whether I'd ever function as a human being again. I cannot claim success in any shape or form. I get up and greet the day, and hope that it will be a good one. And oftentimes it is. It is normal and unassuming, and I am perfectly contented and happy with it. But sometimes it isn't, and then I find that I am doubting myself in every conceivable way. It's just not always enough to be a nice person, who just wants the best for others, and a quiet life for herself. It's just not always enough to be who you are.
But this landscape, this adopted home of mine, assures me again and again that what can at first appear to be rather unpromising is actually wonderfully varied with a beautiful honesty. It bows its' head to the incoming storm and has learned to thrive despite everything. And maybe you need to take a closer look to appreciate it. Take your time to see what lies beneath. It's worth it though. There's magic there, and a depth of colour painted in layer after layer. The landscape fits me like a glove, and assures me that all will be well. That I can yield to the incoming storm without fear. I am thankful to be held in its' embrace.
Wishing you all a wonderful weekend.