Someone said to me: you'll come back changed. I'm not so sure I would say it with such big words, but I can sense that a raft of gifts has come my way. Some of it feels like good food. The flavour still lingers a bit, and now my insides are getting on with absorbing the nutrients. Other aspects are still bright in my mind, and I'm tempted to look for shields and mirrors, to keep them focused and sharp for as long as I can. I am waking early - is this a gift too? It could have something to do with the fast moving ground I've landed on at work, but I prefer to think that part of me, beyond my say so, is still away, and refusing to surrender to these down under diurnal rhythms.
Anyway, the up-side is that I have time to savour the France and Britain that I got to meet. There's something about being here in Aotearoa NZ - beautiful, spiritual land that it is, that still leaves me aching for the structures - the footprint - of my early early line of forebears. And I found them. Not the bloodlines so much, but the cultural cradle. Drawings etched 17000 years ago onto the limestone cave walls in the Dordogne, France; ancient monastries and churches (I added my song into the stones of one, built 900 years ago.) Then there was the Bronte parsonage - a stones throw from my friend's home. I looked onto it from my small upstairs bedroom window, and this neighbouring family came alive as I read my book - an account of their lives in beautifully wrought fiction: A Taste of Sorrow. (Thanks Mary M for this recommendation on your blog.) Oh, and much more.
My hands went to work there. It didn't seem enough to see and to smell. I wanted to touch, so I did: stone after stone. At other times I put the soles of my feet to work. Stripped off, soft, and so short-lived in the scheme of things, they did their thing. Padded out onto those stubborn remnants that speak our history, and laid down another invisible layer all of their own.