In Blackwater Woods

Yesterday I bought myself some art. I can’t remember when I’ve ever done that before. I have been gifted art – beautiful things my friends have made me, Ava and Ezra. I’ve bought art books, and prints. But yesterday my friend Sarah who runs Felt so good made this beautiful piece, based on Mary Oliver’s poem, ‘In Blackwater Woods’.

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Here’s the poem:

In Blackwater Woods

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
everything
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it
go,
to let it go.

It’s one of my favourite Mary Oliver poems. I wanted this peice before I knew what it was inspired by, but once I found it, I couldn’t really let it go.

I haven’t yet decided where it should go, but I love it. I can’t stop looking at it. It’s technically a Christmas present from Howard. I really think I should pick all presents to me.

It made me think of how many things around this house have been made by people in my life, and how talented they are. Really talented, for sure, but the beauty that lies in handmade things is not about perfection. Every single thing here, that has been made by someone I know and love, has immeasurable value. When I glance upon the lithograph Claire made that hangs upon Ava and Ezra’s wall I am reminded of her, of how I know her, of who she is to me, our history, of what the picture represents and now the ways she knows my Littles. There is so much wound up in it, and it brings me great love to have it in my house.

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The quilt that Donna made for us as a wedding present, which Ava wraps herself up in several times a day. The book Ava draws in and the treasure basked Ezra plays with, more things from Claire. (A treasure basket is such a thoughtful and lovely gift for a baby-I would never have thought of how good a gift it makes)

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Our house is full of these treasures – knitted pixie hats and cardigans, dresses and tutus, felted figures, sock puppets, cards, hobby horses and quilted balls, bags, baskets, drawings, rainbow playsilks…each one of them adds texture to the spaces I spend most time in. I love home for so many reasons, not least of all because it is a very handmade one.

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That too is part of why I love making things for people I know – These things carry a weight, a small reflection of how I feel about the person.

I shared with you a picture of the barn that our friends made us for Ava and Ezra’s joint Christmas present. We just love it so much and we all find ourselves gathered around it playing several times a day.
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I’ve had so many emails asking how you can buy it or if my friend, Calum, will be taking commissions. From summer onwards, you can indeed comission Calum to make one, or a number of beautiful wooden playthings – when that time comes I’ll happily share more information and how to get on his waiting list, which looks like it might be quite long already.

(The figures are Holztiger ones and I might be harbouring a growing obsession for them..)

Aside from sharing the amazing work of the people I know, which I’d like to do more regularly, I’ll also be doing some reviews from now on. Book reviews and reviews of things I like – products and otherwise. I don’t quite know how oftem, but not too often. Maybe on a weekend day, and I’ll be sure to be clear when a post is a review of something.

I’ve toyed with this idea for a while but kept dismissing it because I worried it would seem too commercial-like I was being paid to push things. Or that I’d sold out. But in fact I get absolutely no money or payment reviewing anything, other than to share something that I’d like more people to know about.

Last year I was asked to review a few different things but none of them sat quite right with this space. I was also asked if I might like to advertise some things. I didn’t. WordPress went ahead and stuck some adverts on anyway, which have absolutely no affiliation with this blog.

I have no interest in promoting anything that I wouldn’t use or that I don’t believe in. But, an increasing number of emails are about things like – where I get toys, or what sort of eco products I use – questions I myself have sent people in the past if something has piqued my interest (but questions that I often don’t have great, or wise, or thorough answers for). Now and again there are things I’d be happy to review and share, that might interest some of you – things that have an ethos I can get behind, natural and organic, that we use as a family or I use individually. When those find their way into my emails, I’ll happily do a review of them and answer any questions I can.

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About Kendal

I'm Kendal Mosley-Chalk. I live in York with my husband and two children.
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