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Saturday, 27 April 2013

THE FAERIE CARNIVAL


  27th  April 2013.  

I drew an index finger along the condensation, creating the outline of a heart and peered outside. The mist was rising and beyond, a hint of blue bell woods. A place of childhood dreams, I longed to re-visit. Without awareness, my coat was fastened and I’d set foot outside in search of bounds beyond imagination which today I felt had to be set free, whether by my own volition or perhaps, supernatural force.

In the midst of the woodland, I sat, spreading my coat on the cool floor carpeted by the most wondrous of flowers, harbingers of Summer and in the breeze they tinkled like bells heralding a faerie wedding.  Shielding my eyes against the sun glading the green-ness, I wondered what lay beyond the natural horizon dictated by lakes of lilac flowers, blurred in their thousands, yet each unique as humankind. Respectfully, I traced a natural pathway towards the edge of the woodland, where a road intersected and I wondered about the past and how it could influence the future, in a real and meaningful way. The scent of bluebells permeated the skyline, imprinting shapes of creatures I did not know and the myriad of purple, indigo, violet overpowered me and I swooned, reaching out for a clump of blue bells to steady my resolve.




I awoke to the sound of a harpsichord or some such instrument and followed in pursuit of its mellifluent chords. Eventually, I arrived. Beguiled by jewels encrusted in each key, ornamental note cascaded with each ornamental note, flowing from this ghostly instrument which appeared to be powered from energy created by itself.  

 “There’s no-one there, I exclaimed. 

Oddly, I was the only one to notice this and turned swiftly. My eyes widened onto a bustling thoroughfare, and a hand grabbed mine. I looked down at its knarled fingertips and smiled. The pixie released my grip and spanned his arms. He did not speak, however the expression on his weathered face was clear.

”Welcome.” 

I no longer felt an outsider and stepped into the hubbub.

Each moment seemed precious as the first, and I wondered about a giant kaleidoscope being turned for my amusement.  Each step unravelled greater delight. Children crunched gleefully on candy floss and liquid mahogany dripped from toffee apples onto their fingers. Cartwheeling towards an ice cream cart, their pointed ears poked from candy striped bonnets and I wondered what lay beneath their sickle shaped footwear. Inside a starched white tent, elderly matrons judged the quality of strawberry flans, there was all manner of preserves neatly arranged in rainbow hues on trestle tables. I reached forward to taste honeycomb meringue, however a hail of confetti swept across my toes and I swept around. The pixie returned to my side and led me over a hillock to a maiden astride a golden-maned creature, its striated horn appeared made of a substance resembling glass. Each step seemed deliberate, as though I were important in some way to the entire day. I felt each footprint impress the Earth as I walked forward.

And still the harpsichord played on – “Sound, no sound, sound.”

Shells adorned her hair and as she leant over the creature’s neck, I inhaled blue bell scent. The watery nature of her eyes, suggested she was mourning a loss. She reached out and her touch was like silk stroking rock.

“A unicorn!”

No one seemed to hear my words, exclaimed in delight, as all heads were turned towards the maiden. A tail swished and the unicorn cantered out of the fairground, I watched until it faded from sight, my arms clutching my chest against a sudden chill.

Side stalls closed. The candy floss seller quickly dismantled his cart and rolled it on square wheels down an embankment into nothingness.  Children were ushered away by guardians and the light dimmed. The harpsichord continued to throw notes into the ether, which quickly gobbled them up and transformed them into the shape of swans which floated in the night air, and I watched an airborne river of diamonds which cast gem stones in my direction, which I caught and returned skywards. It was a delightful game which I played, until the notes became sparse and I woke.

I unfurled my palm, and in the darkness of blue bell woods, I found a phial of faery dust which glowed luminescent and a hand written note. Within the safe confines of log cabin, I lit a candle and read the childish scribbled font.

“Guard your dreams for they are your life.”
 
(c) Phyllis Anderson 2013.






Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The hare and the fox


20th December 2012.




Today, I saw a mountain hare.  He was magnificent, dressed in his winter finery, he surveyed his iced kingdom before bounding off in search of his snow hole. I’d set off in darkness to ascend a Munro, which is the classification of a Scottish mountain some three thousand feet in height. I found a welcome plateau and partook of hot chocolate from a flask. Something pricked my attention and peering through a fine coating of snow, I locked eyes with a mountain hare, camouflaged against predators, we shared a moment in time that cannot be explained by mere words. Perhaps he was communicating a warning from the past or a message from the future? Whatever his intent, the hare seemed at peace, unconcerned by this human’s interest. Soon, a cloud of snow blanketed his slender form and he vanished.  

I continued my descent and within a few hours, had returned to Log Cabin, my countenance cheered by an orange sunrise on the long drive home, black striped clouds pierced by a watery cobalt sky. 




I was re-acquainted this evening by my dear friend, Jasper and we shared a warming glass of Gl├╝hwein. He is a self styled man of the woods, who lives in a mountain bothy which overlooks a Scottish loch.  He looked quite incongruous amongst festive revellers carrying their Christmas packages and rolls of gaudy paper, bustling past to catch the seven forty five express. We embraced and I burrowed into the folds of his forest green cloak inhaling pine scent, and noticed an amulet over his left breast, it depicted an oak tree bejellewed with tiny green stones. Employed as a tree surgeon, tending the ancient forest of Scotland, his hands spoke of manual labour. Jasper lives a little way from a holiday camp, which is a fifty acre site, man made in construct with flush toilets and sub post office, Although tourists are encouraged not to feed the wild animals, occasionally spotted foraging around its environs – one particular fox was befriended by a tourist who fed it meat pies. It is unknown how the relationship developed. Jasper is led to believe that the lady invited the fox into her cabin and was delighted by its presence that she encouraged it to return. Regrettably, the frequent visits were reported by alarmed residents, the fox was trapped and its life terminated by a local veterinarian.

Jasper was delighted to hear that my novel is now at the print stage, and I promised him a preview copy.  He was excited about the prospect of a Highland book launch, and explained that he was keen to convert his own portfolio of animal drawings into a printed publication.

A bowl of barley broth was a fitting finale to the evening and prepared Jasper for the long journey home to the north.

 It was such a clear night, that I walked through the forest without the need of a torch, my steps punctuated by a barn owl's shriek, its heart shaped features illuminated by the silvered moon.  My meditative footsteps aided a drifting mind and I returned to my earlier encounter with the mountain hare and wondered about the certainty of his future. 

Later, I placed a log on the grate and watched flames rise. Settling into my winged arm chair, I tucked a cashmere shawl around my toes, smiling at Jasper’s Christmas gift of socks fashioned from finest sheep wool. His story of the fox resonated and I wondered how far humankind has really evolved, whereby an undomesticated animal must suffer a fatal consequence by accepting a food offering in winter from an Earth Mother, however misguided she might have been in the eyes of some.  Surely, we humans evolved from  woodland and once lived there in close kinship with what are now considered strangers who must not be trusted, otherwise they will revert to their brutal and wild nature.  How can this split be healed? Isn’t it simply an example of
survivalism for the fox to prefer an offering than to expend energy in hunting for food?

Pantheists believe that the Universe (nature) is at one with God. Spinoza, a devotee held that the mind, body and soul is deeply connected and no duality exists, this would imply that the lady and the fox are one and the same and perhaps she felt a deep calling from her well of human kindness to befriend the fox and in feeding it, she was nurturing her soul. Were either party aware of the danger, their short lived kinship would cause in twenty first century Scotland?  Roll back the years, and I hold that the controllers of 1600’s Scotland would have treated this alliance in no greater harmony of spirit.
  



I watched a candle flicker and must have dozed off, in the warmth of the night, for I woke with a start and felt the chill on my shoulders.I’d been dreaming about a traveller walking a forest trail, it seemed an interminable journey of hardship and toil and waiting for him at the end of the path, was an arctic fox, its coat silvered as though coated with time and wisdom. The man reached out and the fox walked towards him.The dream faded and consciousness became my reality.  I guess that Merlin had also sought warmth, for I found him snuggled into the blanket, we’d somehow shared. I looked down at the sleeping feline form.

“Oh Merlin, humankind has so much to learn, we have gained so much and lost even more – we must never be distracted, for it’s the children who will inherit this land and they must learn of the old wisdom before it’s too late.”

At that moment, Merlin yawned and gazed up at me through glacier eyes. I rose from the chair and watched him settle into the hollow I’d made.


Monday, 10 December 2012

The Blessings Tree, Christmas at Log Cabin.


10th December 2012.

I decorated Log Cabin today and lit a fire. Reclining in my battered arm chair, with Merlin purring contentedly, I watched salamanders dancing in the flames. After a heart warming bowl of spiced parsnip soup, I fastened my duffel coat, pushed a crocheted hat over my uncombed hair and headed outside, intending to visit Winter Wonderland festival in a city to the North.

I’d walked a little of the way, pausing to pick some pine cones when my ears became alert to the distinctive snap of a branch and I looked up, seeing a herd of deer scatter beyond a glade of trees. I peered, though they were quickly camouflaged and swallowed up by the forest. I walked further and spotted some mistletoe, I picked some sprigs intended for a table decoration, heading with purpose to a secret grove I was sure would offer up some red berried holly. 




A flock of swans flew overhead, and I watched the regular undulation of their wings. I turned quickly, startled by a man's face imprinted on bark. When I looked back, it had gone. Scotch mist, perhaps? However the image pricked my attention and I wondered whether it could be Father Time making an appearance.  Day light fading fast, I drew my scarf around my neck, discarding the idea of a city adventure, and set myself a task to research festive mythology. 

The earliest record of Father Christmas appeared during ancient British mid-winter festivals. He was a general pagan figure who represented the coming of spring. He would wear a long, green hooded cloak and a wreath of holly, ivy or mistletoe. It is the association with holly and mistletoe, and his ability to lift people's spirits, that we retain from this ancient Father Christmas. When Britain fell under Saxon rule in the fifth and sixth centuries AD, Father Christmas took on the characteristics of the Saxon Father Time, also known as King Frost or King Winter. Someone would dress up as King Winter and be welcomed into homes, where he would sit near the fire and be given something to eat and drink.  It was thought that by being kind to King Winter, the people would get something good in return: a milder winter. Thus Father Christmas became associated with receiving good things.  

I was asked recently by a friend what my three Christmas wishes would be?  I replied, that I would like to see my fantasy novel, “Do dragonflies lose their colour when they die?” in print. I’d like ONE person somewhere in the world, to read my book and for it to change at least ONE person’s life.  



What does this holiday Season mean to you?  I’m referring to what brings you lasting contentment, and also what you might do to re-create that feeling.

I finished dressing a yew log I’d carried from the forest, and prepared cards with dates which I fixed with ribbon along its branches. This is my wishing tree, and for each day, I read and meditate over each of the blessings I’ve recorded which includes; living in a beautiful environment surrounded by nature, the gifts of the forest, local rambling trails, heart warming food, books which I possess, friends and acquaintances, laughter, the ever changing palette of seasonal colours and the riches beyond measure - my health, an enquiring mind and spiritual abundance. 

I raise a glass of mulled wine to you, dear reader and wish you every happiness this holiday Season.  Find LOVE in every step you take, venture outside where possible and remember that whatever life seems to cast in your direction, always hold your head high, for you will be blessed with rainbows.



Sunday, 25 November 2012

SERENDIPITY IS A VERB


Today, I wrapped up warm in my cashmere shawl, pulled on a pair of old sheepskin boots, pushed my fingers into hand knitted mittens and ventured forth from Log Cabin.  Merlin, the Snow Spot Bengal purred contentedly and snuggled deep into the battered sofa I’d heaved behind the door, to block wintry draughts.
Edinburgh is the destination, Scotland’s capital city and an architectural delight for anyone who doesn’t mind a craned neck from looking up and an icy wind that feels like it could sever bone.  



I arrived at eleven o’clock and was met by Ameline, at Waverley Station. 

“You’ve lost weight,” I exclaimed. 

Slender as a pin head, her long raven locks have been shorn into a fashionable bob, secreted under an olive green beret.  A tapestry coat, long leather boots with killer heels and a handbag which appeared fashioned from recycled drinks cans – I’m sure we turned heads on Princes Street as we walked arm in arm towards our favourite tea shop and its famed log fire.



Rose tea warmed the soul, and I listened attentively as Ameline enthused about the enclave of artists she’d met on her recent trip to Capri – I flicked through her portfolio of pastels depicting the Fagliolini rocks.  Later, I showed her a mock up of a book cover, for my soon to be launched fantasy novel, “Do dragonflies lose their colour when they die?”

"How awesome!”  Her faux American accent, carried to the rafters. Dare I say, she’d adopted the drawl on a stop over to Boston when her plane was grounded by fog.

Today, was a serendipitous occasion for both parties, as Ameline had secured a writing post and hearing about my forthcoming book launch, she was eager to find out about the inspiration behind the book and asked me an assortment of questions. I thought dear reader, you might like to hear where my rather outlandish ideas come from.

What is the (working title) of your book?
 Do Dragonflies lose their colour when they die?

Where did the idea come from for the book?
Vivid imagination can’t be contained, nor can dragonflies, it is their instinct to rise from the depths and dazzle in light. 

What genre does your book fall under?
Fantasy fiction/Magic Realism

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Angelina Jolie/Patrick Stewart

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Magical realms are explored by a girl who sets off on dream quests.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Self Published.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
6 weeks – and many many drafts.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Angela Carter is an influence.  I have not discovered comparisons.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

Stream of consciousness writing, the Universe created the Manuscript, my fingers
merely moved over the keyboard. Dragonflies are impressive subjects, old as dinosaurs, exquisitely beautiful and elusive.       

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
  
For all lovers of Unicorns, Pumas, Faeries and dragonflies of course – anyone who is willing to disengage the rational mindset will fly through the pages of this book.


And on that note, Ameline drained the last of the tea, grabbed a cup cake and swept from the premises.  I watched her race along Princes Street with copy in hand, settled the bill and placed the brown paper parcel in my straw basket – Ameline’s gift for Merlin. 

Although writing can seem a solitary business, on occasion I have the opportunity to communicate in person or online with some fascinating souls who inhabit the same territory, albeit in differing genres:-

Steve Christie, is a Scottish Crime Writer.  You can catch up with him and order a copy of his Novel, “Good Deeds.”     http://stevechristieauthor.blogspot.co.uk/

Sheila Applegate is an exciting US author, her soon to be launched novel “Enchanted One: The portal to Love” is apt at this current phase of the Universal life cycle.  http://www.sheilaapplegate.com

Hunter S Jones, who lives in Atlanta US, is an author who describes herself as “writer of erotica, fiction, rock & roll...enlightened rogue & mischief maker extraordinaire. I'm the one your mother warned you about...”   http://thehunterjones.blogspot.com


Kenneth Balfour, London based Author of  The Chronicles of Draylon & The Witches of Barrow Wood has a festive publication available “Finding Christmas, Santa’s Tale”  Secure your copy at:


Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Treasure books - the gold is in their leaves.


Writing is a solitary pursuit, however it is not without compensation.  It is my niece’s birthday soon, she will be 8 years old and some would say that she has reached the point of maturity in her magical mindset, a short tenure in which society permits her to dream and her realm is expansive and filled with treasures of the imagination. Be a child at heart, discard numerical age and cherish the horizon that cannot be reached, invoke angels to be your guides on Earth.

For many days, I paced the Log Cabin pondering what to send my niece, perhaps a copy of my soon to be launched fantasy novel?  I have no care whether she finds some aspects imponderable in her early years, because it is written in tissue layers and a child’s heart is wise beyond age.  She will possess my gift forever if she is careful and one day when she is old enough, it will be understood for the wisdom contained within its leaves. However, what she will not be aware of is how my heart will swell, when she opens the lavishly  illustrated cover and her eyes fill with the richness of the prose. To cheer a child who longs to escape into a land of faeries weaving daisy chain bridges, to be present on the same page as Clara’s (the heroine) Unicorn protector and to wonder about the identity of a black puma who longs to be by Clara’s side – is a fitting reward for this author. 


A short extract should suffice for now, dear reader.  Be patient and all will be revealed before the year is at a close:--

"Unblinking, she watched him raise his head to reveal a striated horn which shimmered gold and with each movement he released a cloud of stardust, her neck was tight with emotion and she arched her back, willing the unicorn to see beyond its pure light into the realm of mortals. Imperiously, it shook its mane, and scattered spangles which danced along a path encircling Clara’s head and garlanding her body. Kind eyes alighted on Clara, who did not move a single nerve ending, her breathing was shallow and she did not care whether it was her last breath, humble in its presence, she offered a message straight from her heart. Thank you for believing in me". 
An extract from "Do dragonflies lose their colour when they die?"

A fantasy novel by Phyllis Anderson (c) 2012.




Friday, 23 December 2011

ICE MELTS


Today, it snowed.   I crane my neck and rub condensation from the window pane. The lake has frozen overnight and a small group congregates to observe skaters. A mother and daughter pick their way across. Aged about five years or so, the child clad in woollen hat and scarf peers up and smiles, seeking her mother’s hand for guidance. Soon, an instructor and his student arrive.  A teenage girl, long legged and agile captivates the crowd’s interest and they watch a routine of such complexity, punctuated with pirouettes that most would consider impossible.  The instructor observes and occasionally gives direction, his student clearly appreciates that she has much to learn. Later, an elderly couple set off across the ice. They have perfect balance, with no fear of falling.  Perhaps they’ve visited the lake many times and are reacquainting an old friendship. They glide to the other side where a trestle table has been laid and hot beverages are served.



I light the fire and prepare for my visitor.  Ameline is returning today from Morocco. Tall and slender, her raven hair flows down her back like an inky water fall.  Eloquent and well travelled, the walls of the cabin are bedecked with her souvenirs. I cast a glance at a Kabuki mask from Japan, glass beads from Venice and a rare book embellished in gold, its words a rich treasury – sent from a remote region of Ethiopia.

I wonder what souvenir she will bring me this time?  Pondering her free spiritedness, and her pursuit of beauty in all things, I compose a poem:-



Shamal wind blown in time.
Caressing maiden’s hair.
Pure beauty of the heart.
Truth beyond compare.

Scarlet robe ankle chain.
Tinkling sweet love chime.
Daisy chain, rhythmic force.
Yield to alloyed rhyme.

Footsteps cross cobble stones.
Awake to carousel dreams.
Whirling dervish casting light.
Revolving sun ray beams.

Wisdom books spirit soul.
Some mark time’s place.
Others engage eternal path.
Melting hearts leave no trace.


Returning from the kitchen with a steaming cup of hot chocolate in my favourite mug, I sip the soothing elixir and look beyond the frosted glass.  The skaters have gone, except the statuesque girl and her mentor.  The sun scatters star bursts on ice, diamonds at play with no thought of time or tide. 

Observing the skaters today, it is clear that humankind can co-exist harmoniously.  There is a deep connection between every living thing and nature is our guide.   However, the talent we possess is not enough, effort must be expended to refine and this can be achieved by seeking teachers whose aim is to guide with no desire other than to serve.   To seek knowledge then pause for a while is a lesson in futility. The Universe does not rest from its toil. Please be aware that one day you may awake in a frozen lake of consciousness.    There is no time to slumber. Be hopeful that the impending storm may pass and leave you unscathed.  However, be not fearful or perturbed – the LOVE you possess in your heart, can melt ice and restore beauty to the soul. 

ICE MELTS poetry collection now available


Thursday, 17 November 2011

AUTUMN LEAVES AN IMPRINT

Today, I’m sitting in my favourite armchair, my face glows with warmth and my ears are soothed by a harbinger gust, old as time itself.  Occasionally I reach forward to stoke the fire which releases shadows and scatters sepia tones across pine clad walls.  My mind turns over like tumbling leaves, restless yet content, seeing splashes of colour in fading light.

A flock of swans fly overhead; I smile easily at their distinctive hollow wing beat. 
In the past, I may have sprinted to the opposite window to watch their retreat over the lake. Now I am content to walk through my imagination, wondering about their ungainliness when setting down on water, before transforming into floating islands of serene beauty.   

 In childhood all is possible, days are elastic, focus is all encompassing and the Universe exists in the heart of a buttercup.

Around seven years old and beginning to establish a sense of self, I was happiest exploring woodland around my home in Scotland. Each Season was distinctive, carefully pressed for all eternity in a sacred book sealed by nature.  Snowdrops bravely endured winter, determined to seek the light, wrenching themselves free from the darkness which marked their struggle. Primroses clustered on embankments, together they symbolised  strength in the collective.  Bluebells cast an evocative perfume in May, an inquisitive child wandered amongst their apparently chaotic residence, while lofty oaks remained imperious to all who passed beneath their great boughs. 

Summer time was easy living. The sweet scent of hay filled my lungs and playing hide and seek, I naively wondered why I was never found; the seekers gave up too soon and I remained waiting to be found until my Mother called me to tea.   

Extracts from my poem “The Snowdrop”

Roses and Lillies 
are long gone.
Dead-headed dreams.
Sybarite’s Summer song.
 
Autumn leaves a void in the lives of many. While the scents of cinnamon and ginger, melting toffee, tactile qualities of woollen clothing and hearth and home are highlights for many, suffering is evident when we cling to something that can’t be experienced twice.   An Autumn leaf cannot return to its greenness, its mortal quest is ended when it touches the forest floor.  Adults cannot fit their life experiences and pain of loss into the brightly packaged container of childhood.



However, faith is found in the unseen. What exciting possibilities will rebirth bring? Once awake, there is no time to slumber.  The hope that resides in the soul is that a single moment on Earth may leave a trace of our existence for others to learn on their journey.


Swans cross the sky.
Spring resurrects flight.
Sun recalls the snowdrop.
Tiny essence of light.

The fire has grown cold, and I unhook my winter coat and venture outside to gather logs.  There is a nip in the air and Scottish winters can be unforgiving.  The menthol air refreshes me, and I look around. Three deer forage among the leaves, one raises its head and stares inquisitively at me.