… that deep romantic chasm …

Yeshen, dad, violine 2

Our son was born in the Quantock Hills, and we lived there for a while, in a place where Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poetry was inspired that deep romantic chasm which slanted down the green hill

England, the green and pleasant land a link with Blake’s words on screen. This older version made me smile. In case the link won’t work https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKaJ4b0XYmI

Green hills come with grey skies. Endless weeks of rain leave me melancholic. Then I long for sunshine & hammock days, when fragrances of jasmine and honeysuckle linger until midnight, friends gather round a fire, tea-lights twinkle in trees, a glass of wine or two, or three. This year, sunshine flips to rain almost daily,  green overwhelms as jungle that needs mowing, trimming and hedge-cutting. I’m left wondering if the rare sunny day is worth all the effort and contemplate a Mediterranean lifestyle.

Israel, Carlos, 71, Anna Karina - smaller stillYears back, after three months of filming in a desert – swift sunsets, brilliant stars, marvellous moons, scorching hot days, cool nights, stark and beautiful – I returned to a lush and sensuous Bavarian autumn – myriads of colours, the smell of moist earth, mist, the sweet water of ponds soft on my skin, different kinds of dreams – such a contrast, it made me think how powerfully our temperaments are influenced by climate and weather, in ways we experience ourselves, in ways we feel and think, in ways we express ourselves, write poetry, compose music.

Countries with balanced climate are rare, so it’s unreasonable to expect people to be balanced and temperate. And would it serve us, I wonder? Would it make us too complacent?

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We’re not machines. Each of us has a unique frequency, intricately bonded and tuned with nature’s whorls and spirals in continuous movements of renewal and becoming. I concede, even a single balmy summer’s day brings a smile and restores my senses – blue flowers swaying in the breeze, reading poetry in my hammock.

So I dream of sunshine, but too zealously. As in Plato’s myth of Er,  variety and extremes seem to turn the spindle of necessity and stimulate the imagination. What we commit to in life encounters grit – stuff that grows pearls in oysters and also polishes hearts. And there is the grace of precious moments, when seasons overlap in us, when all our senses are switched on, and the young, curious self, with its eternal projection into the unknown, imagines the unimaginable …


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20 responses to “… that deep romantic chasm …

  1. Yes, oh yes to all this. I too dream of a Mediterranean life and envisage those endless summer skies, the simpler healthier diet, the blue sea… and it must, as you say, influence mood.

    When I was reading up about Eleanor of Aquitaine and they were talking about her feisty nature not suiting the Parisians when she married Louis and it being blamed (by the Parisians) on her being from the south. The author elaborated on the different lifestyles over previous generations and, significantly, sources of food available in the south compared to the more impoverished north… all of which led to southerners being filled with a much higher level of joie de vivre than their serious northern counterparts.

    So not just warmth, but abundance. Though of course food supplies have now levelled out somewhat in the western world at least.


    • .. joie de vivre .. yes, another kind of prayer, different to the northern ethics of hard work, endless progress, duty to society, and soul searching. I’m a clone of my early conditioning and wish I could attain the state of mind that allows abundance 🙂


  2. Lovely, “when fragrances of jasmine and honeysuckle linger until midnight, friends gather round a fire, tea-lights twinkle in trees, a glass of wine.” We call that “sitting out.”


  3. I am ‘with you’ on the longing for a disposition that celebrates abundance, by living heedlessly. The evangelical protestant did me no favours either! My longing to live in Provence was all to do with a belief that it would persuade a relaxation, but I wonder now whether the hair-shirt would have come with me and itched more urgently? I created a ‘Provencal’ garden instead but never sit in it, its pleasure is in the scent of rosemary and lavender that find their way through the windows.

    I am utterly convinced we are shaped (perhaps damned) by our geography


    • Not condemned, Philippa, just nudged into place by a template of circumstances. I like to think it doesn’t mean we’ve got to stay put. Longing is a spiritual given.


      • Yes longing moves us forward, but maybe it dallies in unproductive obsession like believing one’s life should make a difference! Perhaps simply breathing in deeply would make a better difference.


        • In unmeasurable ways we all make a difference.
          I used a quote by Fazal Inayat-Khan in the book of reminiscences about him I co-edited. I find it consoling:
          ‘The experience you have within yourself of your separate identity, to allow right and wrong to be re-defined by you, your singular contribution, is where evolution really happens. You, by becoming yourself, can open a new wavelength. What you reflect immediately influences your environment, people close and far.’
          And breathing in deeply, yes, and breathing out a little longer does the trick, if I could just remember 🙂


  4. The weather, the seasons, the phases of the moon even the buzz of bees and the whirl of swifts in the sky, it’s all food for the soul and sometimes we feel replete or alternatively a little longing niggles at the edges. Having lived in Saudi where there are in effect no seasons and in Jordan where one can drive from Amman to the Dead Sea and experience three seasons in one day I am constantly reminded that we are all in it together and yet each little scrap of life and living has it’s place. Lovely thoughts and gorgeous pictures, thanks you – Diane


    • Thanks … food for the soul .. I often forget to receive it, but its there to absorb, all the time.
      In another life I’ve been at a conference at the Jordanian border, photographing the charismatic Moshe Dayan. I was very young 🙂


  5. Poetic prose, indeed, Ashen. Thanks for starting my week on this tranquil note.


  6. So lovely to read Ashen, a pleasure to feel the magic of climate taking it’s effect even in the reading of it.
    I am certain that enough credence is not attributed to the effect of climate on our general day-to-day living. Many of the old sayings come to mind when we consider weather, such as ‘Ants begin to move home before a storm’ and some organisms actually predict the on-coming clement change that allows for their proliferation.
    I know that when it is deeply clouded, my own sense speaks of calmness and closeting, a particularly pleasant feeling.B.


  7. Thanks, B.
    Rural communities still own this sixth sense about the weather, and people – as you wrote in your last post re: the Australian Outback.
    I pick up signals occasionally, a ripple in the air, the atmosphere of a place … my cat used to pick up unseen influences.
    Clouds, winter – I like the cuddly feeling of hibernation too, for a while 🙂


  8. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    A new blog this week and I thought I would share this post. I love wet, stormy days but I suffer from SAD and I need sunshine. The balance here in the mountains north of Madrid are near perfect – we do have wet winters but it is on average 300 days of sunshine. Living in Ireland was wonderful for many reasons but 6 years of nearly 300 days of rain was nearly my undoing! Great blog and one to follow.


  9. I shall have sweet dreams tonight, it’s been a hectic fretful week and this lovely post was just what I needed. Thank you so much for sharing this, Ashen. 😀 xx


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