Tranquility: 2013 365 Challenge #257



While walking the dog this evening, in the pouring rain, I tried to nail my scatty thoughts to a topic for today’s blog. I was unsuccessful. My head is full of words but they’re like confetti chucked in the river.

I tried to think what people read blogs for: advice, company, shared experience, entertainment. I didn’t feel capable of any of those things (if I ever am!) All I craved, as I walked, was silence (I had the lyrics “Be happy, be healthy and get well soon” stuck in my head from one of the kids’ bedtime shows).

You can’t recreate silence on a blog. I tried to think of the nearest thing and I thought about some of the poems I recite in my head when I need to drive other words out (especially kids’ songs and TV themes: those pesky things are persistent!)

The poem that comes to mind when I’m dog walking is always Gerard Manley Hopkins’ The Windhover, as there are usually red kites flying overhead. But, as I always worry about copyright on this blog, I didn’t want to include it here. The other thing I often recite is the Desiderata (same applies about the copyright). The opening words particularly are often true, but generally every line is something I can learn and live by.

In the end, with copyright in mind, I thought I’d include a couple of my more tranquil paintings and one of the poems from my creative writing degree course.

Purple Ghost

Purple Ghost

Postcards from an English Summer – May

Wild lavender obscures the once-neat path –
My passing hands stir childhood memories.
Bare feet luxuriate in verdant grass, 
I pause beneath your graceful Acer trees.
A symphony of song pervades the air,                                               
with soaring solo blackbird melody.
Above, the fire-red leaves blaze bright against
a cobalt sky.  Like hands they wave goodbye.
The silver birch, with peeling papery bark,                                        
is worshipped by the bluebells, as they bend                                      
and whisper to the wind of what they’ve lost.
Their sorrow echoes my unending grief.
Wisteria flowers in indigo and cream,
deep fragrance swirls around me like cologne.
They seem robust but fallen blossom tells                                          
of frailty. Already they are dying.
Silk-tassel draped with hoary lifeless blooms,
like slender wind chimes silent from respect.
In hues of brown and blue my thoughts are drawn,
sensation without reason.  You are missed.

Thank you for your patience. I hope you enjoyed your little patch of serenity and hopefully normal service will resume tomorrow.


Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog: 


“Wake up, Claire.”

“Wuh?” Claire turned at the sound of the voice intruding on her dreams. She could feel drool running down the side of her mouth and prayed she hadn’t been snoring.

“Hey, sleepy head, we’re at Franz Josef. Time to get off the bus.”

“We’re here? What did I miss?”

Bethan chuckled. “Most of the day.”

Claire stretched and peered out the window. “Doesn’t look like much of a town.” She pulled her bag up from the foot well and climbed to her feet.

“We’re not here for the town.” Bethan’s smile suggested hidden secrets. Claire didn’t have to wonder what the joke was for long.

As she exited the bus, she stopped and stared. “Holy moly. Where did they come from?”

Up ahead, mountains rose to the heavens. A tree-covered conical mount dominated the foreground, symmetrical and green, as if someone had let moss grow over a mole hill. Then, in the distance, snow covered peaks, with a valley carved between them like a giant had split them with a machete.

“That’s where the glacier is, over there. I’m doing the heli-hike tomorrow, if you fancy it?”

Claire shook her head, partly in wonder, partly in denial. She’d seen the cost of the helicopter ride and couldn’t justify the expense. Yes it was a once in a lifetime opportunity, but there were too many of them on the trip. She thought she might do a half-day hike, if the men with hammers moved out of her head sometime soon.

As if sensing her pain, Bethan linked arms with her and asked gently, “How is the head? Do you feel better for the sleep?”

“I’d probably feel better if I drank a gallon of water.” Claire forced the words out of her parched throat. “Please tell me there are no more parties planned for this evening? I’m not as young as I used to be.”


“What do you mean we don’t actually walk on the ice? I thought it was possible to climb up and see the ice caves?”

The man behind the desk shook his head. “Not any more, love. Terminal face collapsed last year. Access by ’copter only.”

“I can’t afford the heli-hike.”

“There’s always Fox.”

“I can’t get to Fox, I’m on the bus. It’s here or no-where.”

The man in the tourist info shrugged, as if to say he was out of options. Bethan came to stand next to Claire.

“Come on the heli-hike, it’ll be worth it, if the weather is okay. Once in a lifetime experience, Claire. Worry about the money when you get home.”

“That’s easy enough to say,” Claire responded, “but if I don’t reign in my spending, I won’t even make it home.”

“Why don’t you get a job? A few weeks in Wanaka pulling pints will restore your funds.”

Claire laughed without humour. “I’d have to pull more than pints to fill the hole in my bank balance. Any rich sugar daddies in Wanaka?”

Bethan’s expression grew sombre. Then she gave a shake of her long black hair and the smile returned as if nothing had happened.

“Why not decide in the morning? See what the weather’s doing. It’s not like it’s peak season, you might get on.”

With a sigh, Claire agreed, and let Bethan guide her back to the hostel.