Monday 10 January 2011

Following tracks in a world of white

This year, the holidays started late and have only just ended.  We spent this past, last holiday weekend in the countryside visiting relatives of my husband.  Getting away from the visual distractions of the city, we were plunged into a magical world of white.  While the boys played with their cousins, my husband and I slipped away for a walk.   

The village is tiny, with only seven houses.  We passed the skeleton of a neighbour's tipi.  

And walked toward the wood which seemed to breath mist, while a silver sun struggled through a shroud of white sky.


We followed the tracks of a hare bounding back to the forest.

We entered.

 A thick, muffling silence. 

A tree with a pelt of moss. 

The nest of long flown birds now filled with ice and snow. 

All was eerily quiet in the wood, in spite of evidence of animals living there.  As we left, there were more tracks to be seen: hare and deer.

And something that dragged its low hanging body in the snow, perhaps a badger. 

The longer we were out, the more sensitive we became to the surroundings, and the more that was revealed in the white.

We crossed an animal highway on the very edge of the village. 

The village itself.  Smoke rising from chimneys.  The sound of children playing in the snow rising over the roof tops.

And now, Monday.  Back home.  The children back in school.  A routine can begin again after the wonderful chaos of the holidays.  On my wall, more white.  More tracks.  A print-out of John Racque's 1746 map of London.  (There is an online shop: MOTCO which has rights to an assortment of beautiful maps.  Frame-able prints can be purchased from them, as well as CD's with indexed maps one can use for research.)   

This map has every detail of early Eighteenth Century London: every little alley, and cow shed, the rows of trees in Hyde Park, and the many stairs leading down to the Thames.  (Might be time for a stronger pair of reading glasses - though with the CD, one can zoom in and examine tiny sections of the city at a readable size.) 

And the books.  One of the best parts of working on a story is the excuse to read fabulous, topical books.  It's exciting to refer to the map and chart the paths that people, both historical and fictitious, took along the London streets of close to three hundred years ago. 

And now, to plunge myself into the not so distant world of Eighteenth Century London.  In many ways, not as distant to me as that secretive winter wood that I could only scratch the very surface of.


  1. What a lovely post. Love the photos of your walk. And I like the research part of writing myself. What fun.

  2. Thanks, Em.

    I've started reading a book about an actress, Charlotte Clarke, who was quite famous in London in (mainly) the second quarter of the Eighteenth Century. Quite a fascinating character and quite a fascinating time. Might have to write a post about her.

  3. Oops! Embarrassing typo alert...that should be Charlotte Charke - not Clarke. Sorry.

  4. hello Lynn - I just had the most wonderful cruise through your blog - what a wonderful place you have here - I so enjoyed the walk through the woods :)

  5. Welcome, Jeane. Thanks for stopping by, and for your lovely comment.

  6. What beautiful pictures - and good luck with the London novel. I so agree about the fascination of old maps. I went walking with a friend in December all around London's old dockland, tracing our way with the help of a nineteenth century map. We found a sports field where the basin of the old London Dock used to be - and many other things, churches and back alleys and river steps, that were still there.

  7. These images are like another time, some other place untouched by modern man and, in that, such quiet beauty!! Thank you for sharing.

  8. Thank you, Katherine - I'm having lots of fun with the novel. Sounds like you had a wonderful visit to London. I'm hoping to do that at some point - perhaps this Spring. It's amazing how much of old London still exists - you just need a good map and a pair of comfy shoes to find it.

    I'm glad you enjoyed the photos, Medieval Muse. It was a beautiful walk through those fields and wood. There was an ugly string of hydro lines I avoided taking pictures of, but apart from that, it really was like being in another time.

  9. I love the image of the silvery sun on your way to the wood... reminds me of scenes from Dr. Zhivago. I've just signed up to follow... thanks for coming over to RavenWood for a visit!

  10. You are a good story-teller Lynn ... I am looking forward to reading/seeing what you come up with in the year to come. Also, I like being part of a smaller group of peeps with the Art as the common denominator. (By the by, thanks for visiting my blog ... as I wrote there, it is good to have new energy around to liven things up!)

    ps I love Canada ... I have lived in awesome Revelstoke, BC, where my great friend used to reside. Now she lives near a small town called Chase, close to Kamloops, also in BC ... and that is lovely country, too.)

  11. Welcome, Valerianna, and thank you for signing up. I've been enjoying your blog for a while now - always such beautiful pictures and words.

    It really was like a scene from Dr. Zhivago. I didn't think I would be able to capture the atmosphere accurately, particularly in that image with the silvery sun, but my camera pleasantly surprised me.

    Jan, thank you for visiting the blog and signing up. I'll pop back to read the comments on your blog. I look forward to seeing more of your illustrations.

    Regarding your ps: A good friend of mine used to live in Revelstoke years ago and I went out once for a visit. It was stunning. Most of my life in Canada was spent in Toronto, but I was lucky enough to spend about six months living in Victoria. The whole province of British Columbia is breathtaking.

  12. Barry, welcome! So good to see your face here. Hope you enjoy - and I'll try to come up with a singing post especially for you.

  13. hello, thanks for stopping by my blog- you have very lovely images here- love the nest. And I also love maps so thank you for the link.

  14. Welcome to my blog, Donna. I've been so inspired by yours and by your beautiful collages. Thanks for your visit and lovely comment.

  15. What a beautiful post. I could feel the crisp air and hear the trees gently swaying as you walked by.

  16. Thank you for visiting my blog, Adventurous Art Teacher, and for leaving a comment. Glad you enjoyed the post. I'll pop by your blog this afternoon.