Feather, Leaf, Bark & Stone

By Jackie Morris

A pillow book of poems, dreams & stories typed on sheets of gold leaf.

Sunday, 4 April 2021

Finishing the book for the third time.

Over the past few days I have dipped in and out of Feather, Leaf, Bark & Stone. I wrote a final piece and it brought back to mind some of the why and the wherefor of making this writing in such a way. 

Today I walked to the top of the hill, to think, to look, to visit the places where stones have been for almost a year. The lane to the top of the hill is still, warm, heavy scented with gorse. It is like a portal to peace on a day like today.

On a tree there is lichen that glows in the shadow, looks like a satellite map of a forest.

On top of the hill I found two of the stones that have been in the wild for long enough that the weather has become part of their patina.

We sat on the rocks and the texture of birdsong and the hush of a calm sea were the only sounds. Lark, high in the sky. Chough by the cliffs and a raven song. The chatter of small birds, goldfinch and linnet. Out at sea bright white gannets hunted and fulmar coursed the cliffs.

Leaving the rock I spotted something in the grass. A smooth sea stone. Turning it I found another stone I had left and forgotten. 

This week I had also taken a stone, gilded with a labyrinth, to leave in a tide-carved font of a bowl for a far away friend, who once came to visit from over an ocean, called by the stones and the creatures here. When she returned home she made a book of her images of the Stones of St Davids, and then took to making and shaping in clay. She's walking a different path now. One we all take, eventually but somehow it seems too soon. Too vibrant a flame to be gone. And maybe someone will find this stone, or maybe by now the tide has taken in. 

Walking back with an empty head we passed the place where the violets are, shy in the grass, and bluebells live and once a snake lay basking. Soon the wild bluebells will flower. The foxgloves too. And yesterday there were swallows.

Home now, manuscript sent to publisher..... many things to do. I want to write some more haiku for proof sheets, need to think about nightingales and writing about them, the Christmas card for Help Musicians is settling in my head. I think this year's is a love story, perhaps a duet. And I have birds to paint also, and I really need to clear my desks, all of them. Because there is the chaos of creativity and there is where that chaos tips over into mess. 

Meanwhile, I still have proof sheets for sale on my blog, only two left, for a very good cause, so please take a look. I will be adding some more as rewards for feather Leaf if I have time to make them, but I want to offer this one to someone who helps me to spread the word about this book. 

It is stitched and typed with a haiku I wrote yesterday. If you would share Feather, Leaf, on social media, talk about it with a friend, however, and leave a comment here on this post ( maybe tell me how you are doing in these curious times, or something beautiful you have seen?) I will choose someone to send this proof sheet, signed and some other things like postcards, gathered from my tidying of my desks today. 

I have bought an old inkstone on eBay, and some inks that are old also. Looking forward to playing with these when they arrive, and taking the stone to the Natural History Museum on April 27th. I have been playing with the shape of foxes, and need to do this more as the performance approaches, to ensure the words and the shape of the fox are in my blood and bones, and the words of the otter spell still work too. I was given a tiny paintbox that belonged to a friend's grandfather. It now contains a 'Red Fox' set of Deep Deep Light paints. It's a beautiful box, with a history of kindness, so I have decided that each piece that is drawn from this box has to be given away or sold for charity, so there will be some tiny foxes soon on my journal, for sale for the Trussel Trust. And I need to practice a larger fox with the tins of paint Deep Deep Light sent me for using on stage.

 

Leave me your comment. It's good to hear from you. Maybe the fish will swim your way. In the meantime, here is Ivy, goddess of the rock. The sky today is the bluest sky blue and the air so still in places that the bells of the cathedral call across the land. 

 

 

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Comments

Lesley Totten
 Lesley Totten says:

How lovely to feel and to be a part of your creative world and your pebbled stone dreams of Fox. As for me, my tired eyes ache (just finished week 7 of ‘frontline’ work and now some thankful holiday) but what keeps me going is the ability I have to focus on the micro details of Nature - they are always there, in front of me. Thank you for your inspiration.

posted 5th April 2021

Jamie Wallace
 Jamie Wallace says:

Thank you for sharing your inner and outer journeys. Reading your words and sinking into your photos and artwork are such a lovely and much-needed respite during my busy day.

posted 6th April 2021

Jamie Wallace
 Jamie Wallace says:

P.S. While I am eager to get the vaccine (soon, I hope, I will be eligible and there will be supply), and very much looking forward to seeing friends and family under less stressful circumstances, there is a part of me that is anxious about the so-called "return to normal." Like many others, I am not excited about going back to the way things were. Though I am lucky enough to have been able to work steadily (I'm a freelance writer who has worked from home for that last decade+) through the pandemic, there has still been a different sense of time and space somehow. I don't want to lose that slowness or perspective or the ability to consider different possibilities that seemed completely implausible in the "before times." I am focusing on a slow, selective, and intentional reentry into whatever comes next, and your books are a lovely, lovely guide and inspiration in that process. xo

posted 6th April 2021

Gavin S
 Gavin S says:

A beautiful post. And timely, as you speak of tidying your desk. I sat beneath a great Beech tree this morning and asked it for help, as I always do. Feeling lost to myself I asked for guidance and a great gust of wind appeared from nowhere sweeping all the old leaves from beneath the tree. I took the message; all the old needs sweeping away before the new can begin. So I am sweeping and tidying too, in hope. Sending warm wishes.

posted 6th April 2021

Jane Kuesel
 Jane Kuesel says:

I do so enjoy your posts. For some of us, being out, seeing things, hearing birdsong and the splash of arrivals in the stream behind our house (ducks? the heron?), even the scent of things (how grateful I am for the smell of spring blossoms) is essential. For others, they want to describe it- gardening? hiking? - then tell me about their hobbies. It is warming to know there are others who are similar.

posted 6th April 2021

Lisa Quattromini
 Lisa Quattromini says:

Will you just take a second glance at the sea creature that has wound its way in a cwtch for the sea font - protecting and comforting - something we are all in need of in these interesting times...
x

posted 6th April 2021

Anu MacIntosh-Murray
 Anu MacIntosh-Murray says:

I’ve had trouble sleeping during these unsettling times. But I have found that ending my day by slowly reading a chapter or two of The Unwinding or The Quiet Music creates a calm space that sets my mind wandering more pleasantly. Thank you for that enchantment.

posted 6th April 2021

Jane Gill
 Jane Gill says:

I have been thinking about you a lot lately, Jackie, pondering your words: making beauty is an act of rebellion. I often think my words, my paintings, my scribbles are not good enough, not original, just not. But now, just the act of creation is a rebellion, a process not a product.

posted 6th April 2021

Sara Bankes
 Sara Bankes says:

Dear Jackie, Thank you for sharing the journey of this book, It has been lovely to see it form and unfurl. Watching things grow, evolve and adapt provides a fascinating insight and understanding of the bigger picture; but the final form, the finished copy, is an exciting mystery which I look forward to holding. What a fantastic way to buy a book.
Love from Sara x

posted 6th April 2021

Mel Bale
 Mel Bale says:

Great to hear that the book is coming on, I loved the photographs, the patterned stone is just perfect.

posted 6th April 2021

Henry Branson
 Henry Branson says:

Hi Jackie. Good to hear that the book is finished. How long does the design and print process take? Looking forward to seeing it!

posted 6th April 2021

Brian Coates
 Brian Coates says:

This is to be a surprise gift for my wife. Increasingly hard to keep the secret as the end time heaves into sight; especially here in the south west of Ireland where lockdown has been draconian. Today I was caught peeping at this post on my phone in the garden; E wonders why I am not painting the raised bed panels as I should be. Maybe I'll say I was entering a raffle for one of your cards, Jackie - a half truth anyway!
It's a wonderful project; thank you for sharing your creative process, a bonus to the book

posted 6th April 2021

Amy Davies
 Amy Davies says:

I'm working my way through buying everything you've put magic to. I'm a primary school teacher and I managed to fill my children with Lost Words moments before the first lockdown and it brought me peace and silence as I worked on my examples to them.

I spread your magic to everyone I know, particularly book lovers, and my beautiful 5 month old boy listens to Spell Songs. He is my heartwood. Thank you for all, past and future.

posted 6th April 2021

Lucy Coats
 Lucy Coats says:

The comments here are a poem in and of themselves, little jewels of honesty and love for this beautiful world we share. I am feeling exhausted with clearing my mum’s house in preparation for its new owners. A necessary but painful task, choosing what to let go of, what to keep, a finding of long ago treasure and memory, forgotten stories to share and also some ‘what was she thinkings’. I know you know what this is like, Jackie. Spring feels like the right time to do this, a cutting away of the undergrowth so that new life may come through, and the circle start again, with a new young family where an old lady once lived.

posted 6th April 2021

Pamela Barone
 Pamela Barone says:

The color of the lichen on the tree is uplifting me. It's the blues that get me, the hint blue around a southern window. The Moroccan blue, the duck egg blue, the American robin's egg, the blue tint on my white porch rail as the sun sets. Mostly last few days it has been the blue gray of the mourning doves. My cat watches them from inside the house, making her ick-ick-ick sounds which I guess is kitty for i-wonder-what-your-beating-heart-would-feel-like.

I am on the western edge of Missouri, USA, listening to western winds blow and pass like great seas, season changing to spring of promise. Vaccinated still not traveling although filled with desire.

posted 6th April 2021

Amber B
 Amber B says:

Today I took my silent unwinding to the hospital to while away a few minutes whilst waiting for a blood test to determine if I had a blood clot. The nurse who dealt with me had never heard of the books. She went online to check where she could buy it. A convert me thinks . Ps the blood test was negative, no blood clot so now I await scans and other bloods and X-rays. All is good in this corner of the world. May the smiles spread outwards

posted 6th April 2021

Michelle Underwood
 Michelle Underwood says:

Hi Jackie,
Thank you as always for the words and pictures. There is such a spiritual depth to everything you do. It evokes a reverence and integrity so often lacking in today’s world. I am in a bit of a creative void. I wanted to paint for the Natural Museum but my mind won’t let me. I will keep trying but I’ve spent hours looking at a blank page unable to let anything unlock. I too as others have said, have anxieties about the world ‘opening up’ once again. I rather like the comfort of keeping my family close and the outside world at bay. Small steps are best I think.
I don’t know how to move forward creatively and am just crocheting a granny blanket letting the rhythm and repetition happen without thinking about it. Reading is still a joy and I feel that for me your new book will be a place of contemplation and wonder.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on here, it’s a comfort for many I’m sure. I know it is for me.

posted 6th April 2021

Kathleen Friend
 Kathleen Friend says:

Jackie,

In the woods today
The first bluebell braved the snow
Sun delighted us

posted 6th April 2021

Pearl Melvill
 Pearl Melvill says:

I love the window into the wildness and beauty of Pembrokeshire and the nature it holds at its core. You posts and art really help me escape in my mind to the magic of the ocean and bring peace and calm in turbulent times. Happily sharing the word about the upcoming book.....

posted 6th April 2021

Jo TC
 Jo TC says:

Always enjoy reading your updates - and have shared on Twitter. Lovely photographs - we too are enjoying the Spring sunshine - all of a sudden there are no end of wild flowers to spot - stitchwort, gorse, primroses, wood sorrel, wood anemones, carpets of violets, just the begining of wild garlic and the odd bluebell - more and more bidsong and the sound of drumming woodpeckers echoing across the valley. Really miss the ocean and can't wait until we are allowed to travel a little further from home. So much looking forward to Feather, Leaf, Bark and Stone

posted 6th April 2021

Anna Bear
 Anna Bear says:

Your words soothe. I am excited waiting to see this book published. One more thing to hold on for.
Beauty this week is the cherry blossom in front of my home. Curious today to see it snow, the blossom dropping along with the snowflakes.
I have been shielding now from Covid for over a year. I haven't left my home in all that time.
Nature creeps into my tiny garden but still I long to venture out of the city.
Who knew that lack of natural beauty could make you lose yourself and your will to live. I'm tired of a world of electricity and machines.
Your words and images help so much, thank you.

posted 6th April 2021

Alison Mold
 Alison Mold says:

Hello, it seems as if you live in a magical place and blend with it so well , a part of it even . Lovely words and thoughts . Wish there were beautiful places and people like you. Thank you .

posted 7th April 2021

Shona Fraser
 Shona Fraser says:

Thank you for sharing your walks in the hills with those of us who have no nearby hills to walk right now. My local park is the limit of my outdoor experience at the moment but it is still a joy to watch the nuthatches clearing out last year's nest hole and re-sealing it with mud, while the woodpeckers choose a new hole in a chestnut tree.
The foxes are looking great! I'm looking forward to the Spell Songs event in a few weeks time and the release of this new book

posted 9th April 2021

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