Pets, Petals & Poetry

Since I last wrote, I've moved house more times than I dare sit and count!  We've moved country too, and we are now back in our home country of the UK.  Staying with my dad, our first weeks have been taken up with some serious sorting and tidying to help him be safer and function better in his home as he usually lives alone.

It's been a busy time, but art has not altogether taken a back seat.  Before leaving Canada, I began a new interest in the First Nations/American Indians and produced a piece of artwork I called 'Native Trail' to reflect the beauty of their culture and creativity (see On the Easel).

After all the efforts of sorting and packing suitcases and finishing on a rental house in Canada, and then two weeks in the UK of sifting through piles of paper, throwing out old, unwanted or unnecessary stuff, and scrubbing away, not just at dirt, but at some of the habits of a lifetime, my soul was crying out to express itself in some form of art again.  It certainly wasn't inspired by the cleaning and rearranging of furniture.  In fact, I have often found that when I move house or country, my creativity wanes for a time.  Sometimes it has taken months to recover and get back on my artistic feet again.  But this time, just two weeks in, I was really keen to get hold of a paintbrush, get my sleeves rolled up, and make something with my hands.  So what inspired this speedy return to creativity after the exhaustion of moving my own home, and doing a complete overhaul on someone else's?
Profusions of colour in my dad's garden

Thankfully, while not being much of an indoors man (hence the disorganisation in the house), my dad is very much an outdoors man.  Although his mobility was curtailed somewhat by an accident some months ago, he still manages to get outside in the garden and plant things.  He is always planting things.  If he can't plant them due to physical limitations, he has a gardener who comes once a week who will plant them for him.  We arrived to a garden full to its fenced brim with pinks and yellows, oranges and blues, whites and purples.  There are beds of California Poppies, Lillies, Dahlias, Peonies, and Fushias.  Pots of pink and red Geraniums smile in the sun.  A Foxglove has planted itself in the soil as though drawn to an irresistible dwelling place.  Since being here, my daughter and I have planted Sunflowers, Clematis and Sweetpeas.  Baskets of multi-coloured beauty hang from the shed and yellow Roses climb trellises on the house walls.  Much of the colour is edible too.  I have picked fresh, ripe strawberries each morning to have with my breakfast; raspberries have ripened against the far fence; blackcurrants and redcurrants hang in beckoning bunches; beans are sprouting tendrils and climbing their bamboo frame.  As well as that, there is an apple tree growing three different types of apples, a pear tree with two types of pear, and a cherry tree.  All of this fills this one small garden to abundance with joy and delight.

My dad may not be a tidy or trendy man, but he is a smart one when it comes to things outdoors.  His old house had a lovely long garden which ended at a wide and flowing stream.  My dad built a bridge over the stream which gave us access to acres of grassy fields filled with wild flowers.  When he knew he would have to move from the larger house and garden which he could no longer manage, he bought a bungalow in the adjoining road.  This garden backed on to the hedge of his old garden.  He bought a right-of-way for his lifetime; a path along the edge of his old garden allowing him to still cross the bridge in to the fields.
'The Bridge at the bottom of the garden'.
It has no hand rails now but still leads to
the same beautiful, open fields.

It was in these fields that we used to play and explore as children, getting lost in the tall grasses before they were cut for hay.  We picnicked on the banks of the stream and swung on rope bridges over its flow.  We fished and waded there, laughed and giggled, and held our breath as we walked over the water on old bridges just a few inches wide.  We stroked horses over wire fences and watched the bright blue Kingfisher play near the water.  Whatever the season, it was always beautiful, and part of its beauty was that it was always there.  It is wonderful to still be able go there so many years later.

We brought our rough collie dog with us from Canada.  It is delightful to open the wooden gate at the end of my dad's garden, walk the path down the side of our old garden, and cross the bridge into the fields.  There is a sense of largeness and openness, a fresh smell of grass and flowers.  Our dog, Ruby, notices it each time we excitedly go through the gates and cross the wooden bridge.  She sniffs the air to catch the abundance and newness of smells and runs the paths through the fields as though there was no greater pleasure to be found.  Her long sable and white hair blows in the wind and she is a picture of loveliness as she bounds towards me.
Late summer flowers bloom by the water's edge

We walk there twice a day, morning and evening.  Even in the short time we have been here, my senses have been reawakened to the gentle beauty of the English countryside.  The tall grasses wave in the breeze, their greens and golds interrupted by dots and splashes of purple, yellow and white.  Daisies, Dandelions, Buttercups, Thistle flowers and Cow Parsley look so lovely against the green that I am always filled with wonder at such a natural work of art.  The fields are lined by magnificent oak trees, their majestic shape and colour silhouetted against the blue/grey sky which seems unable to make up its mind about which season it wants to be.  I notice how the grass changes from a darker to a lighter gold as it stretches into the distance and meets the tree line.  Deer dance and leap in a distant field, their performance secretly observed.  Foxes meander through the grass and rabbits sit bolt upright and stone still to avoid observation.  Birds sing from tree tops and flit from grass and tree, taking to the sky.

Is it any wonder that my artistic inspiration has returned to me so quickly when I can daily partake of this feast of nature, colour and light?  It has inspired me to take up my paintbrush and to change this blog from just a 'pet portrait' blog to an 'art' blog which I have appropriately called 'Pets, Petals and Poetry'.  From childhood, animals, nature, and expressing their beauty in words and pictures, and even in song, have been a pleasure for me and that is what I want to share with you.

He may not be the tidiest man in the world, but he has always brought the outdoors close to my eyes and heart.  Well done, dad.