Influence

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Come with me for a walk, will you?

First we’ll walk up Trelawney to the highest point in town. Past Provadore where the door opens and closes with Saturday morning bustle, conversations spilling out with the smells of coffee and toast. Gardens burst out through fences along the street.  Someone in one of the houses is playing the piano. Look –  there is that curious tiny door. There are multitude of these scattered around Falmouth. I am convinced there must be a race of tiny people in Cornwall that come and go through them in the darkness of  night. (Someday, I will spot one, I’m sure of it). The Moon Fleet. 

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Today we are going out into the country. To the fields and lanes lined by hedges, where the air is heavy with that musky, verdant smell of spring. We are collecting wild things in our basket, to make a spring tea. Nettles, cleavers and hawthorn leaves. Violets and Primrose flowers. Whatever we happen upon, really.

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I like coming out here: somehow it makes me feel most like myself. Because sometimes I feel like I’m about ten different people (and that’s on a good day) – and I’m not quite sure what connects them all together. Do you ever feel this? It’s just, there is so much fluctuation from day to day, year to year. So much capriciousness. One day, I’m sarcastic in a sort of bitter self-deprecating humour sort of way; the next I’m so poetic I almost choke myself on flower petals.  I alternate between reading Nigel Slater talk about his wooden spoons to nauseatingly gory accounts of life in the trenches to scientific studies on flavanoids. Where is the common denominator in all that?

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Maybe that’s why I gravitate towards the countryside, towards plants: they are so changeable too. Never the same from one season to the next. And yet, an apple tree is an apple tree is an apple tree, whether in flower or fruit or barren leafless branches. There is some essence deep down. Some truth about it. I feel that in myself when I’m out here.

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I was talking to M. about this the other day, this changeableness.  I just need to figure out who I am as a writer, to find some consistency. But somehow, I’m afraid to. Because I know I’ll change the moment I tie myself down. And the only thing I do know is that I need to be honest. I need to express who I am and what I am in any given moment – and that’s always changing. M. looked at me, with that sort of slightly tilted head smile that he gets before he’s about to say something that he thinks should be so obvious to me, he’s amazed I could miss it.  Maybe your constant is your changeability. Maybe that’s who you are: someone who is influenced. By the season, by place, by mood, by weather, by people. Write about that. 

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When we get back, I’ll make everything into a tea. Green and complex and like nothing either of us has ever tasted: lovely with a squeeze of lemon. It’s nice coming home with a basket full of wild things and a head full of pictures and smells.  It’s nice to be influenced and to share that influence with you. Thank you for coming along with me.

Comments

  1. This is gorgeous. I completely identify with you – I sometimes feel like I’ve worked out who I am, then I change again. It’s hard to keep up with oneself sometimes.

  2. musingmar says:

    Such a lovely post. How I would have liked to go along with you on that walk. Just reading about it gave me such a sense of tranquility. Thank you.

  3. Anna says:

    I loved this. think you should write a story about this nocturnal people who comprise the moonfleet!
    That tiny door is wonderful.
    A question: do you arm yourself with a forager’s guide on these walks?
    If there’s one you recommend, I’d love to know.

  4. Shelagh in Vermont says:

    This is My Cornwall of hedgerows & spring gardens, lanes & stiles, beaches & coastal paths, and always the wildflowers. I will be in Falmouth again next May, walking everywhere with my sister-in-law Sue Jackson. This is her blog: http://www.flowerpotdays.blogspot.com/

    • Danielle says:

      Thank you so much for sharing your sister-in-law’s lovely blog. I’m already hooked. Of all my months here so far, I have to say that May has been my favourite. A good month to come!

  5. Kieron says:

    Wise man, that M. is, don’t you think? I can relate to the variability you describe. I used to wonder “Why aren’t I more like X or Y?” But as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to appreciate my variation in mood. And if I remember “All things in their time,” I can let the mood run its course and in due time, observe some other frame of mind come into being.

    • Danielle says:

      M is quite wise, but we won’t tell him for fear it might go to his head :) I’ve been learning that if one only values happiness, one misses out on a good part of life! Each emotion has its own beauty and poetry to it, it’s all about learning how to use it.

  6. In art school I had an instructor tell me not to worry about who I was an an artist, it would show itself whether I wanted it to or not. He also told me life is a lot longer than you think it’s going to be. Both bits rather contrary to what we usually hear. Interesting guy. Thoughts to ponder.

    I think being influenced by all M. mentions means you are a careful observer, a great trait for a writer.

    • Danielle says:

      Your art instructor sounds like a very clever man. It seems that in both pieces of advice, there is a sense that one can just relax a little more, go with the flow. There isn’t a rush! I like that. Thank you for sharing it!

  7. Lucinda says:

    What a beautiful walk, recorded in wonderful pictures as always. :)
    I love the moonfleet! A story is definitely in order!
    M is wise indeed. I think it shows more an admirable multi-facetedness rather than a lack of consistency. xxx

  8. sally says:

    I am always swept away by the color images within the frame of each photo. So alive, vibrant, the next thing to being on the actual path. Except your ramblings whether on the path or inside your head……………….they are meaningful and touching.

  9. Anonymous says:

    your words and photographs are timeless, thank you for sharing them!

  10. david says:

    hi, Danielle, I just made another batch of your ‘really rooty root beer’. back home, in boston, we call all sodas ‘tonic’ however, this one
    actually qualifies. great recipe! thanks. what do you end up doing with the spent herb mixture? I boil it up one more time, but was
    curious about your thoughts. (and ginseng root is such a great addition. it gave me more ideas about different ways to use it :)

    • Danielle says:

      Hi David – tonic is a great word for it! I like your idea to re-boil up the mixture again – I hadn’t thought to do that and certainly in the future I will now! It’s always great to squeeze every last drop you can from those lovely little roots.

      X

  11. Cocoro Teng says:

    Hi Danielle, may i know what model of camera are you using?
    You words and photographs are just so inspiring. =)

    • Danielle Charles says:

      Hi Cocoro, Thank you so much! I use a Canon EOS Rebel XT and fluctuate between a 50mm f1.8 lens and a zoom 18-55mm lens. I’m also dreaming about a macro lens but my piggy bank isn’t quite there yet. XO