Sunday, July 06, 2008

Chapter One

July and there is already less birdsong in the woods, the birds have coupled and reared their offspring into an uncharming adolescence of hopping around, not flightless but almost, sometimes landing in the mouth of a passing dog, leaving the dog dumbstruck at its own hunter abilities. July, less birdsong, it's the height of summer yet you know time has turned, you are moving away from it again, not toward it, you missed it again, you didn't catch redemption, and the knowledge churns up a terrible feeling of loss in you, and the worst is when you tell yourself, I missed it again, I missed redemption, redemption will never come, and the reply you hear yourself give is it would, if only you were - what? clever? talented? tuned-in? relaxed? meditative? worthy? - if only you were something enough to catch it. To have caught it.

They have ruined my little woods, they've cut down trees and turned up the forest floor and are creating yet another footpath through it. I can't fathom why, the wood was already enclosed by footpaths, the triangle formed by them could be walked briskly in fifteen minutes, and there were little paths through it anyway, and the footpath they are building seems the width of a country highway. I love paths, I love finding old paths in woods, paths that used to take people from somewhere they were to somewhere they needed to go, or wanted to go. You can see them in the forest floor, even when the undergrowth has returned there's an indentation, a particular look that you can recognise if you've seen it before.

None of these woods are a forest, of course, they hardly even merit the title "woods". Anyone read G√ľnter Grass's The Rat? I read it a good few years ago, while still in Wales, when my children were small, or maybe I only had the one, I can't remember. I do remember liking it profoundly (and here I must confess I haven't read The Tin Drum, I haven't seen the film (fell asleep to it very recently, but that's no comment on the film really - I have a tendency to sleep to films), I didn't even see the theatre adaptation in Helsinki this spring which was highly praised and which I really did mean to see, the woman playing the lead was said to be astounding. So there's a hole in my well-readedness you could punch your fist through, but at least I'm honest about it), although when I looked it up online now, most reviewers called it, basically, a "boring jeremiad". Good word, jeremiad. Anyway - in The Rat, the characters from the Grimm fairy tales are organising some sort of effort to save the world because the forests are dying, and with the forests, the fairy tales will too, because if there are no forests big enough for a child to get lost in, the fairy tales will die.

I want a forest big enough to get lost in, but my current world doesn't have any, even in my countryside the forests are little patches in between agricultural land, and that is not the same, that is wilderness lost and tamed, I want it the other way round, if anything, I want the agricultural land as little side-remarks in the margins of the forest, nestling in the nook of a wood, comfortable and necessary yet clearly secondary to the uncultivated wilderness. My childhood summers were spent on an island in the Gulf of Finland, the forest went from shore to shore save the odd rocky outcrop which usually faces the open sea, and the fields were as I described them a sentence or so ago, patches between the wilderness, oats and potato, mostly, although from photographs taken from an aerial survey aeroplane in the 1930s you could tell the amount of cultivated land had been much greater then, people on the islands were fishing folk with self-sufficiency farms, and each patch of land flat enough to be ploughed had been taken into use. There was a tale from the war years of how the islanders heard someone speaking Russian in the woods, and there was panic, no men around, just the women and children and maybe some old folks, but nothing came of it, no-one knows if it was the Desantnik, the parachute troops, or if it was a case of nerves strung too high, for too long, which made someone hear things which weren't really there.

This post is called "Chapter One" because a friend I've known for a long time said just recently that I should write my autobiography. Bless him, but I hope this post shows conclusively why it isn't a possibility, I'm way too rambling. Anyhow, this post is dedicated to you, my dear friend The Elder. Petite pomme, as we say.

17 comments:

Reading the Signs said...

"Rambling," my dear, is what in this country they like to call big houses with lots of spacious rooms, hidey holes and goodness knows what growing in the spacious gardens that surround it. If you are going to write your autobiography then you must just plunge in and inhabit the house which belongs to you - including all the missed redemptions, yes especially those. And do not be confined by orderly sequences - if you want to skip from chapter one to chapter seventeen and back again to chapter three, then do it. We all know you can write stuff, so - .

You want forests? Ha. Well you know where to find one, should you need to borrow it.

Reading the Signs said...

Yes, and just in case you're in the mood for a spot of heavy duty doubt-mongering: you write good stuff. I happen to know about this, Sees. Don't argue, ok?

Anna MR said...

Oh God, bugger and bollocks, Signs sees, I had written a long (and yes, rambling) reply and then went to preview it before posting and blogger dropped connection and it all, all, all disappeared, and it was looong and included musings on Andrei Tarkovsky and bloody everything. I'm too gutted now to try again - the process of thought-formulation feels too much. But big thank you for your encouragement and the forest-borrow-offer were in the original and will be in this feeble replacement. Thank you. I'll be back, tomorrow or sometime, and try to say again what was lost now.

Mwah in the meantime.

Reading the Signs said...

Sometimes I just want to keeeeel Blogger, Sees. But I am very good at imagining, so will apply all my powers thereto and see if I can retrieve the lost comment thereby.

Anna MR said...

So yes, you see, sees (hello), the Tarkovsky connection was something I read in his book of musings on cinema (I think it's translated into English as "Sculpting in Time", I've been reading the Finnish translation). He fantasises about how it would be if the life of someone (anyone) could be captured on film in its entirety, every second of it... and then the material could be edited into a film - several films, I think, because I seem to recall he plays with the thought that, say, six different directors would all work at the stuff to make their own film each, cetra. And you see, that's what I sort of want to be writing - writing down everything I ever saw or thought or heard or lived through or.

I enjoy reading it, too - I mean that of others.

(And I'm not claiming to be on the same artistic level as Tarkovsky.)

Okay, maybe it was best lost. Blogger may well be Very Wise, you know. Mwah for now...

Reading the Signs said...

Anna, this is of the essence - the idea of one's entire life being captured and then edited into several films - I love it and it feels instantly, somehow, resonant and significant, Mwah! And I have just been (synchronicity?) looking at this and am determined now to go and see Stalker.

I wonder if whether by choosing a different director one can, you know, change the script of the present moment. Not putting this very well, but you know what I mean. Involves a bit of retrospective time-lordessing, obviously.

That's So Pants said...

A-hemmm - don't want to interrupt, but - Anna please do write your autobiog. Rambling is the whole point, isn't it?

xxx

Pants

Anna MR said...

Signs, I love the idea of a director-change script-change changing, well, if not everything then certainly the feel of the film of one's life. Oh yes, sees, this is surely the way to go. I think the feel changing will work retrospectively, too.

Thank you for pointing me in the direction of that article, by the way. I enjoyed it a lot - it's a difficult film, I find, to discuss, to put to words. Do see it - I have a feeling you'll enjoy it. I am meaning to get it on DVD.

Anna MR said...

Pants, a delight to see you - your contributions on these pages are never classed as "interruptions". Thank you ever so for the supportive words. I think the only way I can go about the autobiog will be here, on-blog, as it's way less blank-page-intimidating than just opening up a word document and starting to write "for oneself", as it were.

So, you know, there'll be plenty more rambling here, slowly but surely. Maybe one day there'll be enough to pull out of this context and cut and paste together to form some other whole.

xxx right back atcha (and oh, one x mwah for Signs, as well - I somehow failed to leave one at the previous comment. Sorryyyyyy)

Merkin said...

Am I going to have to send a St. Bernard all the way to Finland replete with barrel of brandy?

PS try using this to get away from blank page phobia.
It'll let you plan as well as write.

http://tinyurl.com/4q7qsd

But Why? said...

Hello...?

Reading the Signs said...

I bet she's in, Doctor, think I saw the curtains twitch. I think we'll just have to start throwing stones at the window and singing loudly.

Anna, by my troth, I swear: anacrq

You're not, are you? Crquing, I mean.

Merkin said...

'I think we'll just have to start throwing stones at the window and singing loudly.'

All for it..........one, two, three

montag said...

Where are you? We have missed you...tragically.

Having gotten that out of the way, we may start in on your last post.
Firstly, I myself have been lost recently in a forest, and it is no picnic.
It was not a big forest, but I make up for that by walking at 3:00 AM on moonless nights.

Children being lost in forests is not much fun. Conrad Aiken had a novel The Trees set in early America, and one of his characters, a small child, does indeed wander off and is never seen again. A frequent mishap.
Forests back then were huge.

Grass must mean that all fairy tales, then, are based on this horrendous fright. Perhaps a symbolism of the Forest as Oblivion.

Now, end your silence.

montag said...

There was a large plot of land, a mile in length, but unknown depth. It was quite wild and untamed.
Then last year I drove by and it had been cleared for development. It was as if a atomic blast had taken place.

I was affected.
I have never driven that route again. I cannot bear to see such depravity.

...and I am told that the development is on hold, since the end of the housing boom.

trousers said...

This was lovely and sad and thoughtful, I really do enjoy reading your ruminations.

Hope all is well with you? x

Anna MR said...

Oh God. Merk, Signs, But Mutta, Montag, housut - hei. The curtains of my blog have indeed twitched furiously as this choir of unutterable glory and unusualness has been singing, each to their own angelic tune, for - oh dear oh dear - quite some time, with the glum hostess twitching (and yes, Signs, crquing) in time to her curtains, rudely remaining mute and silent and absent.

What a bastard she is. But she's loved all your comments, each and every one. Thank you.

x x x x x