Sunday, November 07, 2010


Hello. I'm back from the Land of Strange, feeling a combination of expanded and numb-tongued. Life - how well we all know this - is a curiously logical and illogical unfolding; sacking and silk, petals and thorns woven and worn together. 

Certain real-life tales belong to others and are theirs alone to tell; our purpose and privilege, to be there, to link arms and walk mindfully, noiselessly alongside - one foot in front of the other; one in front of the other. Waiting. Holding. Listening. 

At times fire and ferocity are called for - called forth, too. Sooner or later, everything that must finds its place. 


On Friday night, a spectacular fireworks display over Wellington harbour lit up the sky, expressing much that's not articulable in words; we - my daughter, her boyfriend and I - stood entranced as light streamed through darkness, whistling, whirring, cascading, exploding. We watched order and symmetry set chaos to rights, held our breath as intricate constellations of blue, red, gold and green formed, disintegrated, reformed. Fire and light illuminated planes, buildings and boats and sent smoke clouds scudding; timing was everything - and just right. 

After the drama, the darkness that settled was energized, expectant. Awake. 

Cameras yield up surprises; they sometimes see things we don't - or can't - with our restless eyes. This is especially so when subject and object are moving at a pace and there's a wide repertoire of elements requiring attention and focus. . . On Friday evening, my camera found a light-filled figure, supported in her walk by a sea of transparent stepping stones, a quiver of arrows pressed to her chest like a bouquet of flowers - a breastplate. 

The light traces left behind by these fireworks remind me of the fireflies' frenzied mating dance I witnessed with my friend Katherine beside the Du Toit's Kloof River in South Africa in 2006. . . a time in my life when I needed no convincing of magic, mystery and the transformative power of love. I feel once again touched - and fortified - by this promise. Thankful, too. I wonder . . . might this constitute a kind of faith?     

The light traces also remind me of bees and pollen, weaver birds' nests, hay bales and hair. 

Samson relied on his hair for strength. Well - perhaps because I'm neither Samson nor Delilah, nor all that biblically well-behaved - I've decided to cut mine off. Also for reasons of strength. . . my Leo mane is now short.

And isn't hair the oddest thing? We think of it as alive so long as it's attached to our body but it becomes something entirely 'other' the moment it falls to the ground or into the bathroom basin. When it's not where it's supposed to be, it's lifeless. Redundant. Un-pretty. The same can be said of nail clippings. . . things that minutes before had their place belong suddenly in the bin, or are relegated to the past where they're no longer useful or relevant. (For what it's worth, I've placed my hair on the compost heap at the bottom of my garden - the birds might welcome something soft to line their nests?)

How true this seems to be of so many things? Redundancy, that is - or is it finitude, I mean?

And yet how untrue of so much else; especially those most precious, infinite non-material things that seem to have nothing whatsoever to do with form and timelines and whose nature is to endure come hell or high water, to live and thrive - no matter what?


  1. so much of what you say here resonants with me, claire. a lovely post, and as i think i always say to you, the words and visuals take each other to a 3rd place.
    funny thing about hair, when we are at odds with's where i often focus. i've become obsessed with henna...reading up on it, fascinating online forums of magical herbal potions, (one woman adds frankincense!)'s alchemy. which of course, is what I/we need/want. i like that you cut your own hair = power.

  2. Wonderful pictures and as always a thoughtful post, Claire. Welcome back from the Land of Strange. The sparrow in me says, yes, yes, lovely strong strawberry blond fibers from the compost heap for my nest! Lx, M.

  3. How the camera can pin a moment of transition and hold it for scrutiny. If there were a way, first to know ahead of time that we would need those moments saved, then to catch their essence in a way that permitted reexamination. We are left with memory, intuitive takes on things only glimpsed. If we recognized each meaningful episode as a skyrocket in disguise, we would take so little for granted. In your posts, I have no sense of anything being taken for granted.

  4. Hi Susan - I loved your 'men carrying feathers' today. And now I'm curious about henna, too. . . it's so much better for one (as far as I know) than any artificial potion and the idea of rinsing frankincense through your hair is mystical/magical indeed. Liquid frankincense - - - who would have thought? I've only ever encountered it in chapels where it was ground up then burned in a thurible (fascinating word). I was an Anglican girl in a Catholic school and worked absurdly hard to call forth my sins so that I could have an experience of the confession booth. Heavens. What was I thinking? Frankincense followed me from there to an Anglican boarding school, where the smell had an almost hallucinatory affect. The memory of scent? Alchemy, all of it. . .

    I'm not sure I've done such a great job of my cutting my hair this time, Susan. If I keep nibbling at it as I have, I might end up with a boy-short cut by the end of the week. I do like doing it myself, though.

    Love to you, Claire x

  5. Dear Sparrow - you could send one of your migratory bird friends over to NZ? There are plenty of strands still on the compost heap.

    Thank you for welcoming me back from my sojourn in the L of S. It's becoming a familiar place. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing, or just a 'thing' thing. The latter, I suspect. We adjust as we go along, don't we and find the tools (or arrows) we need.

    It's so good to have you back in your Nest, M. Love, C x

  6. Dear Marylinn, you bring a daring way of seeing so that ideas - and whatever else you shine your torchlight onto - are opened up so that the rest of us must look at them again, and differently. Thank you. L, C x

  7. Claire, hello! You are brave. It is a fraught act for a leo to cut her hair. An intense and holy act. I believe good things will come of it.

  8. Hello dear Rebecca
    Yes, I know you know about the whole Leo/hair thing, having done the same yourself not so long ago. The image you drew of your plait as a rudder has stayed with me. I loved the feeling of long hair on my bare back, and miss that! But, if yours anything like mine, it grows like a weed and next time we catch a glimpse of ourselves in a window or mirror, it's long again.

    Love to you, Rebecca. I understand there's as much requiring stamina in your world as there is in mine right now. All strength to you. C xx

  9. We do watch certain tales unfold. There is a strength in linking arms and walking noiselessly along with those whose stories are exposed. They are lucky to have your arm.
    The cutting of your long hair, the image of the woman with her chest plate strong and walking forward - there is strength in those for you too.
    There's something freeing in watching heavy parts of you fall. I hope there is a lightness in the coming days.

  10. Bless you, dear Rachel - I wish lightness and a breastplate of flowers and arrows for you, too. L, C x