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Sunday, 8 September 2013

A Good Place to Sit and Think

We have a table and chairs next to our small vegetable patch. It is a secluded space, a good place to sit and think, maybe write a little and plan. Last week I was doing all three in the late summer sunshine when a butterfly landed on my notebook. It was exactly the same type of butterfly which had rested on a nearby plant a couple of days before, and had stayed long enough for me to photograph it.


It is a Speckled Wood and I could see every tiny detail as it blessed my page, from the fine, painterly white line along its serrated edge to the tiny, coppery hairs on the wings, glimmering in the warm afternoon sun.. On one side I could see its eye, probably watching me as I gazed back, and its almost microscopic mouth which was constantly moving. I could even see the way its legs darkened towards the feet. Before flying away, the butterfly closed its wings completely for a second, as if saying goodbye, as a person in the East presses their palms together before taking their leave. The butterfly left me feeling honoured, peaceful, richer.

Due to their process of metamorphosis, butterflies are symbols of transformation and re-birth. We can relate the stages in a butterfly's life to our own life phases from the egg to the vulnerable caterpillar to the protection of the cocoon when we need it, before emerging from those difficult teenage years unrecognisable and transformed. Last weekend British summertime officially ended. There are signs that things are winding down, that autumn is on its way. I have already walked through my first spider's web, (aargh! but interestingly spiders are also symbols of transformation), strung across the path near the washing line, darkness has been falling by eight o'clock and we have had some wonderful skies.

Autumn always seems to me to be ripe with possibilities. There aren't so many outside distractions and it seems to be a much better time for making resolutions than in January. I am about to begin a new project, another teenage novel which at the moment is still taking shape in my head. As usual, when I begin anything, I have doubts as to whether my tenuous plans will actually extend to form a complete story and if so, whether the end result will be good enough. So how do I balance these doubts with my desire to write? To be honest, with difficulty, but I do tell myself to try and focus more on enjoying the process, rather than scaring myself silly by looking too far ahead to the end product. And from time to time I retreat to my space at the top of the garden and hope that the peace and quiet and maybe even the odd butterfly will bestow inspiration upon me.

I hope you have a special place to sit and think and let inspiration flow. If you do, I'd love to hear about it. In the meantime, thank-you for reading.

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