Category Archives: Nature
What a glorious last morning I spent on Lenore. I was up before dawn and made my way to the top of the promontory to greet the sun. As the sky lightened it was bedecked in swathes of orange and cerise, like Indian saris drying in the breeze. I sat and made a list of the things I wished to do before I left.
1. Thank the Abbess and the nuns for their kindness.
2. Buy two bottles of the Liquid Velvet liqueur so that I can enjoy little tipple from time to time. I’m not a drinker, but a tiny drop of the liqueur is most uplifting.
3. Have a last look at the Abbey’s artworks.
4. Collect a few blooms from the Abbey garden and press them in my book.
5. Send postcards to my friends and family.
6. Carefully pack my bag – I will carry my little ‘art’ basket in my hand as I’ve decided to travel by walnut shell. Very handy for getting back from places, but to use it on the outward journey would entail being able to visualize your destination. Not always possible.
I wandered back to the Abbey and showered and dressed, and then went down to breakfast. All the gang was there. Brenda and her cohorts were planning a big day which involved donkeys and donkey carts. I had eggs, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes and two slices of toast and butter. Once again it struck me how flavoursome all the food was. I had two cups of tea and then headed to the Abbey shop.
I purchased two bottles of Liquid Velvet and bought some postcards and stamps. I also bought a jar of ‘Ecclesiastical Honey’ – good for eating and for medicinal purposes. I sat in the huge entrance hall and wrote my cards. The nun in charge of the shop showed me where I could post them in a small postbox, which was emptied daily. I also wrote out a ‘Thank You’ card, addressed it to the Abbess and left it on the hall stand.
Next I wandered out to the garden again and selected six flowers to press as keepsakes – a red salvia, a marigold, a white petunia, a small pink rose and a yellow snapdragon. The snapdragon made me smile. It brought back childhood memories of ‘talking’ snapdragons. I took the flowers back to my room; arranged them carefully between pieces of toilet tissue and placed them in my book. I then had to bind it tightly. Not the best method for pressing flowers, but it seemed to work when we were kids. It was only a temporary measure, anyway. I would find something hefty to squash them when I got back to the ship.
I carefully packed my bag, then stripped off my bedding and folded it ready for laundering, and I was ready for off. A last look at the artworks first though.
I visited the Lady Chapel to view both the stained-glass windows and the stunningly beautiful, embroidered altar piece. What hours of work must have gone into that. Lots of couched gold thread employed. Very rich and heavy. I also looked at all the tapestry hassocks, and saw that the inspiration for them had come from the garden. Every flower you could think of was represented.
I wandered along the corridors where oil paintings of church dignitaries and also beautiful landscapes of the island, were displayed. I finished my tour in the Library, where several, centuries-old illuminated manuscripts were displayed in glass cases. I imagined all the time and patience needed to create these – and the concentration! You wouldn’t want to do all that and then make a mistake at the end, and have to start again.
It was about 11.30 am by the time I got back to my room. I grabbed my bag and the tiny basket; checked I had my transport in my pocket, and went downstairs to hand in my key.
I shouted a ‘Cheerio!’ to friends who were gathering for lunch and headed out to the courtyard. This was going to be tricky – only two hands and three things to hold. I gripped my walnut shell tightly and hooked my arm through my bag handle and cradled the basket in my other hand. I closed my eyes and visualized my cabin on the Vulcania – whooooosh, thump! I was there!
It was nice to be back onboard the ship and I certainly appreciated the little luxuries after the austere atmosphere of the Abbey. Time to have some lunch and study the noticeboard to see what entertainments were available.
I have spent my days at the Abbey sitting in the orchard with books I have borrowed from the vast library, sharing apples with Tinker and feeling at peace with the world. This is such a beautiful place. A stream runs through the orchard, where I bathe my feet and dip my hands and watch the minnows darting around my fingers.
I have been rereading Arthurian legends, and I also found a couple of books about runes. Runes are fascinating. I like to make my own out of pebbles, clay, crystals – something in these ancient symbols is so mysterious and bewitching.
My favourite is Raido, which means Wagon, and to Ride, and is a general symbol for travel. If I add Raido (R) to my own name, it becomes Grail, and I am indeed a questing soul.
The cup I seek is the Cup of Creativity. Is this the true Grail, from which all things flow, the Cup which holds the secrets of creativity for all who dare to drink from it?
The runic equivalent of G is Gebo, the Gift – the Grail is the Gift, for those who seek it, your own unique gift, for we all have one. To seek the Grail is to seek your gift, your true self. The runic symbol for Gebo is a cross – a kiss, a symbol of faith? The Holy Palmer’s Kiss was exchanged between souls who knew each other as they passed.
A is Ansuz, which means God, Creativity – so as I seek my Gift, as I travel in quest of the Grail, I am seeking God – the wellspring of creative fire.
I is Isa, Ice, a cold little rune frozen in time. Isa is said to be derived from the Germanic word Isan, meaning iron – but it is also the Muslim equivalent of Jesus, and is believed to be the name of a Finnish Goddess. Wherever it came from, in the runic alphabet it means alone, standing still, frozen in time. Sometimes that is just how I feel. I know my quest is often lonely, and I have often felt cold and frightened.
But finally there is L, Laguz, water, flow, the endless flow of creativity, running like water over rocks, flowing like rivers to the boundless ocean…
So when I feel alone I go back to the source, as I have come back to the Abbey. I drink deep of the waters, feel refreshment running through my tired body and mind, listen to the voices of my companions rippling like water over river stones, and know that I am not alone anymore on my quest. As the minnows gather around my hands, I remember that others have gathered here as well, seeking the Grail, as I have done.
In my cupped hand, the water sparkles…perhaps I had the Grail all along.
It’s 5.30 am and I’m heading down to the garden. This is my favourite time of the day – just me and the dawn chorus. No people; no extraneous noise. Peace and tranquility.
The gardens are beautiful. Not regimented like the gardens of large buildings usually are, but rambling and cottage-like, and are obviously very well tended. There are little grottos made of stone dotted about, and some delightful statuary, and not all of it religious in nature either. There is a beautiful bronze mermaid laying languorously on a large rock, with her fingertips in the fishpond. The fishpond is only small, and is home to a few goldfish and a frog or two. It is surrounded by a variety of ferns.
Through a very ornate iron gate is the abbey’s walled kitchen garden. Every variety of vegetable and herb is here, and all grown on sustainable, permaculture principles. Every inch is used. There are compost bins in one corner and I can hear the steady buzz of a beehive somewhere. Espalier fruit trees – apples, pears and stone fruits – stretch their limbs across the faces of the walls. This all accounts for the delicious flavour and quality of the meals served to us.
I’ve wandered around, sniffing the flowers and herbs and I’ve made myself a small posey to put in a glass in my room.
I can hear movement now, so I will go and wash and make my way to the refectory for breakfast. I have no idea what the day will hold; I’m not sure if activities are organised or if you can wander at will, but I can ask someone.
Ah, there’s Woody and Sal, coming down the stairs. ‘Morning, you two. I’ll join you in the refectory in a few minutes. I just have to have a wash.’
‘Did your bed soften up after you got in it?’ said Woody.
‘Yes, I had a wonderful night’s sleep.’
‘Well, we’ve discovered another bit of magic. We were having a wash in that ice-cold bathroom, and I said ‘I wish this were warm water’, and, just like that, it was!’
‘Oooh, thanks for telling me. I’ll be down in about five minutes.’ And I headed towards the bathroom. I think I might risk a bath after breakfast if I can have warm water.
The green goddess of Spring
Slips through the woodland,
Leaves bright splashes of colour
Where her feet have trod
Of new leaves and fronds unfurling.
Petals and buds uncurling of
Bluebells, pale windflowers and golden celandines, pink apple blossom,
Yellow deadnettle, wood sorrel, primroses and violets.
As she weaves her way ‘twixt bush and tree
The birds follow her
In riotous assembly of song
And flashes of colour from breast and wing
As they feast
On caterpillars in the new-burst foliage.
The brook gurgles happily over its bed of stones
Where temple maidens come to gaze in its watery mirrors,
Their long hair trailing in the current.
They listen to the babble of the brook
as it whispers and chatters its tales of things seen and yet to pass.
Shy animals make their way to the edge to drink:
A silent doe with huge, liquid eyes with its nervous fawn.
A quick squirrel, frightened by the sound of a raucous jay
dips in a timid paw and turns to race up a nearby tree.
If photography is your thing, here is a perfect reason to have a camera always nearby…. if I had been 1 minute later I would have missed this spectacular display of light and vapor.
Image: Lori Gloyd (c) 2006
What a lovely, calming garden this is! The flowers hang heavily on their branches and I had scattered seed for the birds earlier. Their excited voices mingle with wind chimes, and the hidden fountain, to make a zen-like melody.
I breathe deeply and close my eyes. The stone bench is warm on my back and behind, and shards of sun move slowly on my face.
Skye had claimed a soft towel, gathering the perfume of flowers and fresh air, to sleep on. Pye walked around and around on the gleaming wooden canopy of the arbor. I hear late-season bees humming as they feed.
There is an herb garden, replete with Enki-Fish and an Angel amongst the Rosemary and Sage, which has a few pink blossoms still clinging to it.
Oleanders, pink and white, vie for grandiose blooming with brilliant Bougainvillea. Fleecy clouds are high in the sky, with sun gilding the edges.
Here in this haven of peace and nature one can slow their thoughts, and capture the fleeting images in their spirit.