Sunday, 5 January 2014

In and around Tavistock, Devon

Yet another rain shower passes overhead and my sketchbook is getting damp. I can't write with my fountain pen so have to use a pencil instead. It has been a day of contrasting weather with heavy showers and even a thunderstorm and heavy hail shower just as I was about set out early this morning on my bike. In between there have been clear blue skies and even some warm sunshine in sheltered spots out of the wind. I am now huddling under a large umbrella and this is keeping most of this latest shower off though holding it in the wind is a little tricky. It isn't too cold but my fingers are a little numb and writing is not too easy.

I have found my way to the wooden seats within the woods. I am in a clearing within the conifer plantation and surrounded by beech trees with my bike as companion. I have seen a few other people around but at the moment I am on my own. I have been to this place before though it wasn't really in my mind as a destination today. I had various paths that I could have followed through the woods and seem to have found my way here without really thinking about where I was going. The conifers form a dark boundary around the edges of this place and the ground is covered by wet copper-brown beech leaves. What stands out in this place is the bright, almost fluorescent green of the mosses that cover the tree trunks and fallen branches on the ground.

A flock of birds passes overhead. I don't know what they are, they could be siskins or some other finches. Their call echoes thoughout the woods. They are small, but I'm sure they are not tits or goldcrests. The sound is almost like the ripples that you hear when telephone wires are blown in the wind.

I am getting cold and wonder about leaving. Then I remember that yesterday I travelled many hours to get to this part of the country and so really ought to make the most of my visit here. It hasn't been good drawing weather today but I can do a little writing now. I wrote a few days ago about paths and now reflect on the path that has brought me to this place. It is a place of rest, a place of contemplation, a place of shelter away from the exposed windy hillsides that I have cycled over to get here. It is a place I would like to have of my own. There aren't places quite like this around my home. This is a place of different landscapes, nature and weather. This is a place in which I can just sit and be. To observe the landscape and have a relationship with it. A place to let thoughts dance in the wind.

I have followed a path to get here, but here isn't the end of the path. I am at a place of rest along the main path. My journey could continue onwards but instead I will return for a little way back along the way I came. It doesn't matter ultimately where I go in philosophical way because even if I return back the way I came the path will never be the same as before. You see things from a different angle, light changes, the wind changes and your perspective will always be different. The path has brought me to a place I though I knew but, as nature always changes, so this place is different from the last time I visited here.

I see a glimpse of blue sky between the conifers and the sunshine may be about to return. The light has changed and the colours of my surroundings has changed. The mosses have lost their vibrancy as other colours are now dominant in brighter winter light. The sun is too low now to reach me and a golden late afternoon light just touches the tree tops above me. I have to leave this place and I give thanks for being able to enjoy and appreciate this place. I am sure I will come back again sometime. I love places of trees. Somehow I am drawn to appreciate them and enjoy being in their presence.

I am wondering, as I tidy up my notes and write this, what my path for the next year will be. I always leave places like this with a renewed enthusiasm to do something different. The day after I did this bike ride I spent a couple hours drawing people in the centre of Tavistock. I saw many interesting characters who caught my creative imagination and I do feel as though I might be giving birth to something new-albeit only slowly. It was such a liberating experience and I love scribbling in public places-not only for the experience but because I do occasionally meet people who are genuinely interested in what I do. I need simulation and creative motivation. There is an exciting world out there and I need to go and be inspired by it.

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