Monday, October 22, 2007

Imagery


St. Anne Falls,
Cornelius Krieghoff,
oil on canvas, 1855.
National Art Gallery of Canada.

I live far from the places of my childhood.

And at times there is a need in me --for the rolling hills and highlands of home.

To know the wild forest stretches out, league upon league, in silence, without foreign footprints.

For a few hours this weekend I sat on the steps of a wooden deck behind a gray stone house set in a quiet enclave on a height of land.

Sat in the velvet dark and watched the slow pendulum of cedar boughs in a hallow's wind -- and found a portal for an exile.

Felt my shape merge and expand, one and invisible with the soft and secret night, and slip through. To walk with memory.

Saw again Orion and his Dog.

And watched the dawn come gently with the quelerous, yearning cry of geese in the far gray sky.

And wondered if our inclinations for imagery are fixed and forever determined by the geography of our birth, whether rural or urban.

30 comments:

kmfrontain said...

Canada is beautiful. Being an army brat, I've seen a lot of my birthplace from many perspectives. If I get a hankering for anything, it's to have a boulder beach for rock hopping. I can't resist rock hopping.

Bernita said...

Yes, Karen.
A shoreline is another portal place.
I need rocks.
I need to see stone.

Ric said...

Wonderful post this morning. I think our subconscious minds are drawn to those times when we struggled to define our worlds. For writers, this happens more often than most folk and the effect is more keenly felt.

We return refreshed and young again - and imbued with the feeling all things are possible.

jason evans said...

You captured this reaching-out spirit that atmosphere writers have. Excellent post, Bernita.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Ric.
I don't know if it happens "more often" or just that we have the urge to describe it.

Thank you, Jason.
Night and wind can dissolve the corporeal in interesting ways.

Charles Gramlich said...

Beautifully written. All I can say about your Urban/rural point is that I come from the country myself and I "grok" this post.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Charles.
I remember you saying that you did.
I wonder if those raised among concrete canyons have a different touchstone.

Sam said...

I wonder the same thing sometimes.
An army brat, my memories are varied and from many different places. But most of my childhook was spent in the tropics. Often, my dreams are in places with white beaches and turquoise water.
(And then I hate to wake up!)

Amy Lavender Harris said...

Beautiful and powerfully written.

Bernita said...

Yes, Sam, multiply living places tend to put one's roots in pots, but dreams are telling.
I suppose I will always view an urban lansdcape in a detached and clinical fashion.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Amy.
The area was very like.

raine said...

Beautifully written, Bernita.

And an interesting idea about our inclinations for imagery. My early childhood was spent growing like a weed between concrete cracks. Not a blade of grass anywhere. But give me the imagery of the clear air and lush forests of my grandmother's arena, and I am at peace.
So maybe that's my antidote to the urban upbringing...

The Anti-Wife said...

Nothing soothes my soul more than a quiet stand of trees with wildflowers blowing in the breeze, or staring up into a night sky and being able to see a zillion points of light. Lovely post!

Gabriele C. said...

My first longing is the sea, but I also like the woods where I live, and the highlands of Scotland.

Bernita said...

Raine, you may be fortunate - able to draw from and express both environments.
Thank you, darling girl.

Thank you, AW. Translation places.

Bernita said...

There is something about wooded slopes, Gabriele, for they are seldom bare of the sound of water.

Savannah Jordan said...

You never fail to bewitch me, Bernita. I know much of the Michigan's coastal beauty makes it into my works. But, the more girtty urban stuff, well, I guess that might be based a few Chicago visits. I am SO not a city girl.

SzélsőFa said...

There must be something about that first impressions...
but than again, there are (hhmm...what is the ordinal of zero?) and minus first impressions...

Bernita said...

Thank you, Savannah.
I've lived in "the City," but am inclined to describe urban things and architecture more in terms of people, not nature.

"Imprinting" does seem to have something to do with my choice of image, Szelsofa.

SzélsőFa said...

I wished to refer to former lives, Bernita. When one feels drawn to places one had not the chance to visit in one's present life. Yet, one is compelled.
I know, it's such a different subject, different from your original point.

Bernita said...

I don't believe in "past lives," Szelsofa, but I do think there's something in gnetic/tribal memory.

Bernita said...

~my flickering fingers~
Make that "genetic," please.

Ello said...

Oh that was lovely. Course my roots are the concrete jungle and I miss it in a very different way. But there is something about the stillness you describe that brings out a longing for it in even a citylover like me.

Lisa said...

My roots are in the city, but somehow my most vivid childhood memories are elsewhere -- mostly the beaches on Cape Cod and in the woods and on the lakes in New Hampshire. Weekends and vacations have had a much more lasting impression. As for the city, I almost having a "coming home" familiarity when I'm in an urban area, even if it's not familiar. As for the tribal memory -- for some reason I've always had a yearning to go to Newfoundland, where my grandfather came from.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Ello. Not memory then, but desire - a lilac thought - like Lisa's.

From photos, Lisa, I understand it is very beautiful.

Shesawriter said...

It's all about perspective, and perspective comes via nurturing and environment.

Church Lady said...

My roots are from small town/rural areas.
I can't live without blue skies and green trees. I'm not religious, but for me, God is in the trees.
Your post is beautiful. It captures so much in so few words.

Ann said...

The imagery that speaks to me most powerfully are mountains, and rocky shorelines, and hills (always hills); which is the polar opposite of where I grew up (south Florida where the highest elevation was the local landfill). I don't mind cities (some cities I like more than others). But give me mountains anyday and I'm happy as a clam.

writtenwyrdd said...

Sounds inspirational, and your writing echoes the experience.

Bernita said...

Tanya, for me it seems nature is the nuture.

Thank you, Chris. Small towns represent the border country between urban and rural, where both are accessible - which may be why I now live in one.

I relate to that, Ann - give me rock.

Thank you, Written.