26 June 2004
A camper van driver on the dole. A heart yearning for the open road romantically at odds with the shitty city life I have found myself stuck in. All dressed up and wanting to find a nowhere to go.
Rainy summer day. The grass so heavy with seed that the slightest wind appears as great gusts. Bending them to the ground. Great grass swathes. Oh how quickly we forget the immensity of winter. A Saturday of rain. A rainy summer Saturday. When the weather has been so breathtaking. Hot by nine o’clock every single day morning.
For those who work have heavy hearts. Rail against nature for her lack of care. Not me. I have soaked in the sun. Watched bees make love to flowers. From the shade of the ash tree I live below. I have tended to my garden. I have sat summer nights by my fire gazing up at the clear star sky. Free to do what I will when I want to. Do you wonder if I am rich? Oh yes I am rich. I am loaded with better than money. Do you hope it isn’t true?
Journey to Shepton Mallet. Code word for boring. But I went there and it changed my whole life. Perhaps it wasn’t to Shepton Mallet I went. But someplace hidden there, made there. A field decorated by flimsy fabric. A circle, a spiral. A secret, invisible to naked eyes.
300 ordinary women, twice as many kids came into an open secret circle. Soft grass, bare feet running. We are living like Bedouin. Cooking with fire, washing in bowls, shitting in dirt. Singing everywhere sometimes drowned by screaming laughing. We play games all together. The age line, all along in a row, side by side with our age group. Seeing how many of each age is there. We notice as she does who is at the end, oldest. Wonder, how does that feel, how would that feel for me? Next we group into star sign. How many air signs! We all agree too many, we want more elemental diversity. More earth signs. More fire, a little, but not too much more water.
We play all week. We wear whatever we want to bits of hand-stitched cloths for skirt or shawl. Morning breakfast circles migrate to the centre at the sound of a shell. The ritual of the day begun. Women offer workshops. Things they know about or want to talk about. Even-tempered women offer childcare. Some take their turn at the gate making tea for new arrivals.
I arrive at a tipi for a workshop called “soul searching”. I am late. I am still clutching a precious mug of tea it has taken me all morning to make. The women have started going round the circle introducing themselves. I listen as light lazes down the centre of the circle and the talking stick comes towards me.
I am making a journey. I am trying not to lie. The women sit on old carpets, maybe found in a skip, now elevated to luxury furniture warm way to sit but still be on the earth that is our role model now. The weave of carpet has never been so fascinating. Where has this carpet been? Did some one throw it away? How I love it. Never met it before and yet want to talk about it to everyone who will listen.
My speech about the carpet is not required, they know.
They have each taken off their shoes in homage. They know the value of things these so-called ordinary women. They are my judges. I have elected them to be. To show them me. For the very first time to be really me. I know they will try to like me. Try to find an understanding of everything that is me. Like mothers they will try to love me. Get my jokes. Resist my distractions if I pretend. They will see through me and I will see through my self.
Each has granted me the privilege of having her eyes on me, her mind focussed attention donated to me, to foster, nurture, support me. As I will be soon doing gladly for them.
Each one with a different perspective. Some have tattoos, flowers and spirals. An arm, a foot, a finger, painted with majik. Some hold themselves relaxed. Some sprawl sideways happy to be fat.
All are them and all of them are part of me. I am making a journey toward them and they are making journeys towards me. I am different, city girl gang dyke. They are hippy gentlewomen loving women. We are becoming a movement. We are taking the earth on a journey. But here in the circle we are just talking about what it means to be.
From here my journey took me away from the city. To see the land of Britain from a truck never to return to the domesticated female domain but instead to huddle over a fire in winter hoping someone will tell a story, sing a song. Learning to live with women on the earth. Trying to tread gently. Is it naff to say spiritually?
My life is now about the weather and I am part of it, a student of it.
I am the elements indivisible. I am the swallow's child coaxed into flying. I am the back hedge lined never driven on pathways of the hay scented life sustaining country.
I am the rainy Saturday in June, a glad garden getting watered.