It was inevitable. I’ve come to recognise this stage and am learning to tolerate it. To even welcome it as an integral and probably necessary part of the creative process. Perhaps it would be more worrying if the falling apart didn’t happen- that might be the sign of a stale practice.
I could have paid more heed, though, to the small voice inside which said the first few metres of fragrant hay rope I made were dodgy. The voice that repeated the words of Ian Dunford, who first taught me how to make twine: ” Your cordage is only as strong as the weakest point, Ruby”, he would say. But I forged ahead with twining and looping, feeling driven to see what could be made. 70 metres of rope later, all looped up together… (daren’t count the hours) and I realise those weak points back at the start, now in the centre of the piece, are definitely problematic.
I try replacing the first few metres. I try to mend them by splicing. I try undoing and re-doing the work but that only makes it worse. The 70 metre length is now in more than 10 pieces. It strikes me how cruel it is that the undoing is so much quicker than the doing. I re-loop the longest length of rope and the resulting piece is flabby and weak. Most of the day has by now passed. Out here at the barn there’s no one around so I feel free to let off some steam.
Then I decide to take some time out.
Swallows and martins are diving and skimming over the still fragrant, cut hay field. The earth smells sweet. There is the call of a buzzard far away, up beyond sight. A distant cockerel crows, wood pigeons coo in the nearby ash tree, and the local green woodpecker lets out an occasional, surprised-sounding yaffle. Gradually, I am undone.
My practice has got to be like the tall trees:
What do the tall trees say
to the late havocs in the sky?
The air moves and they sway.
When the breeze on the hill
is still, then they stand still.
they have no fear. Their fate
is faith. Birdsong
is all they’ve wanted, all along. Wendell Berry, farmer and poet.
So I sigh -again- and stay still.
Later, my Dad reminds me of this quote by Norman Maclean, in his book ‘A River Runs Through It’ :
My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him all good things-trout as well as eternal salvation-come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy.
Today is done for now. Tomorrow, then…