Friday, February 10, 2006

having two homes

This picture shows the sunrise over my wee village. I was up early to go for a walk and found that there was a soft mistiness to the morning that I wanted to capture. When I took this I was standing on a picnic table that was covered in frost and wearing flip flops. I'll try to get a sunset next! Today when I walked I went right up to the top of that big cliff and stood on the highest peak and looked back towards my house. Sometimes this world I am living in really takes my breath away.

Yesterday in my post I decided that I would pay attention to the world as I went about my day. I really tried to yesterday. People often ask if I feel at home in England. I have lived here for so long now that I do feel as if it is another home. I have stopped carrying very much back and forth (except Tazo Green Ginger tea, sweet onion mustard, People magazine and Canadian Crest toothpaste - yes, they have the same toothpaste here, don't ask.) I enjoy where I am while I am there.

On my very first day in the UK I wandered around London. Four days and a job interview over the phone later I moved down to Hope Cove. I was amazed and breathless seeing the sea and these views for the first time. I had only ever seen the sea twice in my life before coming here. To live this close to it boggled my mind a lot. As soon as I could I walked up to the top of the cliff in the picture and stood there, taking it all in, breathing the different air, and whispering messages to the country I knew was on the other side of that vast body of water.

Anyone was has walked in the woods in Canada will know what I mean when I say that there is a feeling of newness. Even though the trees are old and you know that other people have walked the paths, you still feel like you could be the first person who ever stepped there. There is an air of freshness; the forests feel like another world. There is a size and a space to Canada. There is room to breathe, to expand. A few hours drive north from wherever you are and you are in the most spectacular and sparsely populated land. You can still sense what the first explorers must have felt when they saw it. I love it for its rugged spaciousness.

At the top of the cliff in the picture there is a wall. It was built as a fortification hundreds of years ago. The weather and time have worn it down so you don't really know it's there until you are walking along what looks like rough paving stones and down a set of steps. A little while later along a path that follows the edge of the cliff, you look behind you and you can see four circular outlines in the grass. The grass grows differently there. It's thicker, darker. It's the only remaining evidence that people lived in houses there more than hundreds of years ago. Mark's Dad was buying an apartment that wasn't built yet, but building was delayed because the builders had unearthed a Roman Centurion when they were digging. No one else seemed amazed by this.

When I was a little girl I read a book called "Shadow in Hawthorn Bay" by Janet Lunn. I think of this book nearly every time I take a walk. In it the heroine lives in Scotland. She is very aware of the spirits that surround her - the faeries and the 'old ones' who live in and on the hills. When she emigrates to the New World she is heartbroken because she can't find those spirits. She can't hear the voices in the trees and in the earth. It is only at the end that she realizes that it is she and the people she is living with who will become those 'old ones.'

I think about that story because that is how I feel about the two places. Canada, I think, despite its ancient Native culture, still feels like it is at the beginning of its life. You can feel the spirits of the trees and of the rest of nature in the woods but there is a newness there. I love its possibility. The UK, in contrast, feels full of the spirits and energies and remnants of all that have gone before. Every old house has at least one ghost, every path shows evidence of some old settlement. You never ever feel completely alone here. There are definitely faeries and 'old ones' in the hills, and I am really enjoying getting to know them all.

"Roads go ever on and on, over rock and under tree, by caves where sun has never shone, by streams that never find the sea. Over snow by winter sown and through the merry flowers of June, over grass and over stone and under mountains in the moon." J.R.R. Tolkein

8 comments:

chest of drawers said...

Where you live is like some place out of a novel! I understand what you mean about Canada being new and fresh and England having so much history. I have the same thoughts when I compare Australia and Austria. You are so lucky to be living in such a beautiful place and near the water too!
I am so happy that we are moving along parallel...nice to have you by my side!

shepherdgirl said...

What a wonderful post. Your comments ring true from my traavels years ago in Europe and Norway - so very much older than the states. Your comments on the forests of Canada reminds me of our Oregon forests.
What an adventure you are having...

kelly said...

what a beautiful post...thank you
and thanks for visiting my blog!

HoBess said...

So this must be home to those sea gulls you mentioned. Thanks for visiting my blog. I imagine I'd have a hard time tuning out sea gulls, too ... they've always seemed to me like some of Earth's most persistent creatures!

As someone fascinated by old British stories (mostly King Arthur) and also by Native American traditions I was so moved by this post. It takes a special perspective to see the beauty of each place, rather than miss the place you can't be today.

Happy weekend!

Blue Dog said...

These are such interesting musings. And I agree. I'm from Northern Minnesota, not Canada, but I know what you mean. England feels so old. Even the soil. Its trees, its hedges, its rocks...you can feel the history in all of it. While in the other hand our North American wilderness, for me, holds the stories of animals and birds rather than people. It's interesting how every place holds its own unique energies.

Jamie said...

Your blog really inspired me to think about getting my camera out and taking pictures of where I live. I'm a real city girl, and I don't have too many pics that will remind me of this place and this time in Toronto. I'm going to get on that :)

Also your savouring exploration took me back to acting school and doing those exercises where you take a habitual action and s-l-o-o-o-o-w it down to see what you notice about it. It's a great exercise in appreciation.

Your posts always rock, Meg!

tara dawn said...

Megg - This is so beautiful...your descriptions of the land, the oldness and newness, the polarity of your two homes. I love taking these walks with you, finding peace in a land many, many miles from everything I have ever known. How I would love to travel to your small village and feel the power of the spirits in your land...
On the topic of "home", I still feel as if I am searching for my true one (or two, or three). Of course the beaches and marshes of south Georgia were my first home, but that is not where I feel a deep sense of connection and peace with the earth. Feeling that connection and peace is what I hope to one day find...of course I am finding it within myself in the process.
Thanks for letting me know that you are here...my latest post gives a very brief and superficial reason for my absence. I hope to find the courage to write more soon of the "emotional stuff".
Wishing you well and sending lots of love!! Next time you take a walk, know that my spirit is with you...

Frankie said...

First of all, my dream is to live somewhere even half as beautiful as that picture you've posted! I'm so envious of your gorgeous surroundings! I spent three weeks in the Canadian woods a few years ago and know exactly what you mean about it feeling new. Everything I came across felt like it was the first time anyone had every come across it, it beckoned me as though it was waiting for me, as though it was exactly where I belonged. I love the idea of the "old ones" being with you. I feel them too. LOVELY post!!