Since today I am kind of achey and grumpy, I will think happy thoughts.
First being that I had a lovely weekend, with a Saturday trip to Oldfield Road farms and nurseries, though I restrained myself and did not buy another fruit tree. This time. Or another old rose. The greengage plum tree I bought last visit is planted in the front lawn, and doing all right so far.
Sunday Anna and I visited Damali Lavender farm for a fundraiser for the Cowichan Valley hospice. A low-key, relaxed event, with tables of rummage-sale goodies and baskets, musicians and storytellers.
The site is gorgeous, an older house with pillared veranda at the top of a rolling slope planted with lavender (more kinds than you could guess, all neatly labelled) and rows of trellised grape vines, as they've moved into winemaking. The slope runs off into a meadow (or hayfield, depending on time of year I suppose) where visitors' cars are parked. We arrived a bit early, and were the first car directed into the field. One of those moments where you're not quite sure you're in the right place, or whether you're being set up for some sitcom moment of mistaken identity ("Ah, you must be here to apply for the position of governess!")
We visited the lavender shop, where I bought a copy of Labyrinths of British Columbia and a little gauze bag of lavender. As a child I bought my mother a lavender sachet each summer, so the smell is a sentimental one for me. Though I have to say, after a few minutes in the shop I couldn't smell the lavender at all, it was so pervasive.
At the bottom of the hill is a simple Cretan labyrinth, as shown in the pic above. I trotted down the hill to walk it, while Anna listened to the harpist up above. The pattern is one I've seen before, and I will have to get my mazes books out and identify it before it drives me mad. A pleasant meditative walk, though I never get any particular insights or enlightenment walking a maze. (I can't meditate worth a damn either.)
Back up the hill to hear local author Carol Matthews speak about mazes and memoirs, using Ariadne and her thread as a metaphor for choosing a path through all the memories and possible beginnings.
Then a drive to Cowichan Bay for lunch and some shopping. Bread, and cheese, and crafts at Spinning Ninny boutique, where we both loved the needle felt dolls by Anne Fulton - I wish I had pictures to show you how cheerful and comic they are. Plump roguish angels, chubby ballerinas who embody 'dance like nobody's watching', all so happy in themselves.
Writey stuff, also happy. Well sort of. I mean, it made me happy to have it work out. As you know Bob, I've been expanding The Cost of Silver, and that means I've been tossing plot threads out like fishing lines, unsure which ones would catch. (possibly more like grappling hooks, the sort that will pull free when you haul on them, and fall onto your foot in a slapstick fashion.)
A scene added in the fenland draining sequence brought in crook-backed Nell, who taught Griffin how to cast his spirit into a bird's body and 'ride' it, which they did together to fly over the dykes and discover something creepy and plot-relevant.
That meant Nell would be one of the witches hanged in the witch-hunt sequence, hitherto unnamed. But, I thought, what if...
What if Griffin called a bird, and 'rode' it to the gallows, and snatched Nell's spirit from her body?
Over roofs of tile and thatch, over the fallen stone of the Abbey lying like a mason's sketch beneath, the swallow's wings resolute, swift as its heart.
May be thou shalt die when thy mortal frame hangs, Griffin said, and she knew him beset more by curiosity than grief.
May be I shall turn bird and forget woman, she answered. But my end shall come winged and not choking.
She forgot her companion a while in the joy of air, riding the buffet of gust and pull of wind. A hawk cried somewhere behind and the swallow's unthinking craft dropped her low among alder, darting and fleeting between branches.
Griffin's body lay in bracken, sprawled long-legged and awkward. She fell from the air onto the broad hat that lay across his face, feet scratching and sliding before she found their workings.
I am sorry, she said within herself. I grieve for Nan and would have given myself for her an I could.
Aye. He withdrew, pulling himself from the bird as a man thrusts off a rain-soaked coat. Dost forgive me, Nell, that I leave thee bird-shaped? 'Tis a poor rescue.
Have done with regret, she said. What shall I do with wings but fly?
He loosed her and fell away into his body. The swallow-woman sprang onto an alder twig and waited for the man to stir and roll over.#Griffin lay on bracken, wearied to the marrow. He tipped his hat back to watch a swallow dip and swing in the air, higher and smaller until his eyes watered and he lost the black speck into the blue.#In Bury's market place, one of the condemned witches had fallen into so deep a swoon that she could not be made to climb the ladder and stand for the noose to be tightened about her neck.
At last the hangman lowered the rope, two men held the woman upright between them, and he fixed the noose there upon the ground. With a haul and a grunt, he dragged her up. She did not kick nor thrash, only swung neat as a bell-rope to and fro.