Sharing the Secret

Today, I watched competitive scything, bought a handmade hat and watched a craftsman create beautiful objects out of copper. I was at the Green Scythe Fair, a one-day environmental festival tucked away in the Somerset Levels.

Over the years, I’ve seen the Scythe Fair grow from a single row of stalls on the edge of a field (full of people scything, very competitively) to a larger event; yet so far it has managed to keep true to its green roots and ethos. The Fair remains small, friendly, green – and special.

Which brings me to a dilemma: that feeling of having discovered something very special and wanting to tell everybody about it, while at the same time sensing it is precious – and wanting to keep it a safe secret. I have that feeling sometimes when I read an amazing book or go somewhere that touches my heart in a particular way. The sense that everybody has a right and indeed ought to experience something this magical… but if they do, might there be a danger that the magic will be worn away?

While I’ve every confidence that the Green Scythe Fair is in safe hands, this sense of wishing to share yet not wanting to spoil is, I’m guessing, experienced by many of us. I suppose we all have to learn to navigate our own way; to listen to our intuition and share those things that stir us most, while keeping them safe from harm.

Arrivals and Departures

This morning our postman, Phil, handed me a small, white package through the downstairs window, and I put it immediately to one side. I already knew what was in it and held off opening it for a little while. I can’t quite explain why.

In the package was an advance copy of my first book, Down to the River and Up to the Trees, which will officially be published in a couple of weeks’ time. The arrival of this advance copy in the post marked a year to the day since I’d left my old job to embark on a freelance career. Quite the anniversary present!

A year ago, I had no idea what the future held. All I knew was that I needed to make some changes and couldn’t delay them any longer. I was lucky to have some savings put aside and the support of my other half, so I took the plunge – and resigned.

It was a good summer and I spent a lot of time outdoors, painting landscapes and in the beautiful surroundings of a friend’s garden. It was, in a way, a deeply healing experience – simply standing there, looking at the shapes and colours of the plants, feeling the breeze and hearing the birdsong. There is something very restorative and mindful about painting landscapes, whatever the elements throw at you or your canvas (though I can definitely say that oil paints and rain aren’t such a good mix).

At the end of the summer, a seed had been sown. And that seed has grown into the new book.

There is a famous piece from Goethe, ‘On Being Bold’. Now, I’ve had that piece stuck to my wall for more years than I care to remember – but the truth of it struck me again today:

‘The moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur that would never otherwise have occurred.’

A year ago, as I sat on a train home, feeling a little bit wistful and cradling a bunch of farewell flowers, I had no idea that a small, white package would arrive in the post today. Who knows what the next twelve months will bring?