At this point I want to disclose that February is my favourite month.
I like to think of it as ‘the reliable’ month. Apart from every four years when it goes a little crazy, it’s the kind of way a month should be.
4 weeks. Plain. Simple. You know where you are.
The best February of course is where Feb 1st falls on a Monday. Then the rest of that month is so easy to navigate. And March follows the same pattern (for four weeks at least) which is a real bonus.
It probably means nothing to most people but to those of us with ‘odd’ attitudes and relationships to numbers it’s a great boon.
Personally I’d have 10 hours in a day, 10 days in a week, 10 weeks in a month and 10 months in a year but… the universe and human intervention chose another path.
This picture of what is now known as ‘Helen’s Beech’ was taken a February ago. On my birthday. And it features in a book ‘Brand Loyalty’ (from 2010). So it seemed only appropriate that I start working on the first draft of the ‘companion’ to Brand Loyalty (it’s not a sequel because it’s about quantum infinity) on 1st Feb. The book will be published either on 02022020 or 20022020 depending on how the quantum mood takes me. So in less than 400 days from now. The first date is a Sunday and the second date a Thursday. And I was born on a Thursday… (in February) in the snow. (not literally, I mean it was snowy outside.)
Anyway, all of this points, in my mind at least to the observation that it’s not just that rules are made to be broken, it’s that rules are made to be made up. As are traditions and superstitions.
I visited Helen’s Beech when out on a walk today. After my writing session. It seemed fitting. The tree is also known as the ‘thinking, drinking’ tree. It’s where I can still climb out on the bough (literally going out on a limb) and think and at the same time Dude (and Hector if he ever gets a chance) can get a good drink from the natural bowl at the base. This is one mighty fine tree. And from it many stories have grown and will grow.
These trees spark two emotions in me whenever I see them. First, that they show life and death, or different lives sitting side by side, thus evoking thoughts about the quantum nature of things.
Secondly that (from this angle at least ) they offer some kind of mystery - what's just over that hill? This speaks to the imagination.
Some people don't like winter. I do. I love bare branches on trees. They remind me that life (and death) are much more complex than I can imagine. I see all the seasons and all the possibilities in them. Every time I look at them.
I have an indoors image that does much the same thing. It is my 'inheritance' from my grandfather, a picture I've known since my earliest days that now sits at the top of my stairs. It's titled 'The Corridor.' I can never tire of wondering what is just around the corner, which seems to be so much more interesting than what you can see. Loads of things in this picture have symbolism/connections for me on a personal level. The mirror (behind the woman's head) evokes the Arnolfini Marriage picture, which reminds me of times spent in art galleries - ah, the pictures I have seen, just one look into the mirror and I'm transported to a myriad of galleries from 'the past' - where my past meets with the past of artists. And the costume being (as I imagine it) early 19th century connects me back to my own love of the 19th century. These are the kind of people who feature in the kind of books I love to read. While I've 'progressed' in the past 40 years, shifting my interest from early to late 19th century, I'm still intrigued in all respects by what is just out of sight, around the corner. I'm not going to say it's where 'inspiration' comes from, but simply that looking at these things -art and nature - make me think and it is from the thoughts that my creative work comes.
I've just checked and the picture dates from 1924 by an artist called Leonard Campbell Taylor (Oxford 1874-1969) I have no idea how, why or when it came into my family and haven't explored the background of the artist either. But one thing leads to another and you see how far the imagination can travel from looking at a couple of trees!
January is the month to look both ways - forwards and back - and I am always reminded of that by these trees which I see just about every day when walking (or biking) in the forestry beside our HoAm.
What I plan to do this year is to write something about each monthly calendar picture. Call it creative reflection, or call it a tribute to trees. Either way, it's a resolution. However, as S.R.Crockett (a great tree lover) wrote 'to resolve is ever easier than to do' - so we'll see how it pans out over the year. Come back in January to see what I've got...