Ariadne’s Thread

Recently, I started wanting to learn to knit. My mother knitted, her mother crocheted and they both embroidered. For the first half century of my life, I bluntly refused to touch a needle. Then, out of nowhere, I felt the urge. I googled immediately.

I learnt that once a week, knitters, stitchers, and crocheters from all over London meet and knit together. Stitch by stitch, loop by loop, they aim to take over the world and turn it into a warm, benign, woolly place, where humans knit together, refreshed by cups of tea, glasses of wine, cream cakes, and scones.

Rich and poor ladies, ordinary women, Oxbridge blue-stockings, illiterates, persons of various religious persuasions, and origins gather under one roof to knit and teach the learners. For free! Is that for real? I asked. Come and see, they replied.

Armed with wool and needles, I went. The Festival Hall, bathed in sparkling lights lit up the river; it overflowed with good-natured crowds. The knitters sat clutching their instruments, fingering the wool. Wine flowed, fairy cup-cakes, scones flew into mouths to the tune of clicking needles. I felt lost to alpaca, mohair, merino, cashmere.

I am a beginner, I said. Welcome, they replied. Feeling a huge grin mark my face, I picked up my needles. At last, I had found my way home. Afterwards, it dawned on me: had Penelope really wanted Odysseus back, wouldn’t she have given him a thread to find his way home?

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This short story first appeared on 52|250 A Year of Flash

Crochet and Knitting Meditation

 

When I started learning to crochet I thought of it as a relaxing, stress-reducing act, like counting the amber beads of a komboloi.

Now, looking at my hand holding the crochet hook, the wool, at the next stitch to pick up, the stitches I travelled and the one I have to travel to next, I think it is more than that. It is a process like meditation, without however the religious connotations and significance often associated with it: like counting prayer beads, but without the religion.

I was interested to see that, according to Wikipedia, there are two ways of counting the komboloi beads: “a quiet method, for indoors, and a noisier method that is acceptable in public places.” While crochet is quiet, knitting with two needles is not! I wonder whether there is a way(s) of knitting indoors that keeps the noise down!

http://stellasstones.tumblr.com/

blackbirds

blackbirds

pecking red rowan berries  

sing to themselves

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Read about the Rowans here. In the Wikipedia Rowan entry, mythology and folklore section: “It was said in England that this was the tree on which the Devil hanged his mother.”

This post can also be found here

Forest Fears

Festival of the Trees, issue 55, on the theme of 2011 UN International Year of the Forests, has been published by Jasmine, of Nature’s Whispers. It is an informative, as well as entertaining post, rich in text, visuals, and creative energy. The links are well worth exploring too, covering a plethora of work about nature, trees, forests, gardening, art, and other fascinating topics!

It also includes an alert about the UK coalition government’s plan to sell off many of the best-loved ancient forests and woodlands, and a link to an online petition to save the UK forests.

Jasmine writes:

“In the United Kingdom, the Conservative Party plan on selling ALL of our ancient forests. Once they are gone, they cannot be redeemed. In order to carry out these environmentally unpopular sales, the government is rewriting laws written in The Magna Carta that have protected woodlands and ancient forests since 1215”

 For more information about this issue please see The Guardian here, here and the campaign site here

If you enjoy walking in the forests as much as I do, if you care about the environment and the preservation of woodland, then this is the time to voice your concern and support the petition.

 You can sign the petition online here

My short story and post appear here

twentysix

twentysix,” the second anthology highlighting short stories from a quarter of “52|250 A year of Flash,” is out. The editors of this writing project, Michelle Elvy, John Wentworth Chapin and Walter Bjorkman, challenge writers to produce a short flash of 250 words every week for one year. They provide a different theme each week and the resulting creative work is amazing: wonderful stories, and poems, of high quality from a prolific, creative, friendly, and excellent community of writers.

Each quarter, the editors pick and highlight in an anthology the best of the stories written on each week’s theme. The current edition also includes art work, readings, and reflections by some of the writers on their creating a particular piece and the ways they went about developing their take on the theme.

Beautifully and professionally edited, assembled and illustrated, it is well worth visiting, and reading. As you will see, the editors have put an incredible amount of work into “twentysix.”

I am honored to have two of my short stories included: on theme #25 “A private person” and on theme #26 “A hair raising story.”

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You can read the anthology here

My stories in 52|250 can be read here

New Year

Happy New Year’s Day!

Remember though …

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a river flows

into a new year

every day

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In a sense this micropoem plays on the theme of Heraclitus‘ Fragment 41:  “You cannot step twice into the same river”

Δεν γίνεται να μπει κανείς στο ίδιο νερό του ποταμού που κυλάει δύο φορές.

From today on, though, I, along with others, will be entering the river of stones every single day for a month.

For Heraclitus the appearance of stability is an illusion, “for as you are stepping in [the river], other waters are ever flowing on to you.”  However, consider the possibility of re-entering the river of stones: on the one hand, the river consists of the flowing moments of experience as represented by stones; on the other hand, each time we polish and share a stone, we ourselves change, grow through our attending to and encapsulating the moment of experience.

Happy New Year 2011!

This post also appears here

International Year of Forests

The UN declared 2011 as the International Year of Forests “to raise awareness on sustainable management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests.”

Forests are vital to the lives and livelihoods of the people of this planet, to our planet’s existence. Yet, according to UN figures, deforestation continues at the rate of 50.000 square miles per year.

A number of activities have been planned for the year, including high-level panel discussions, film screenings, a United Nations commemorative stamp series, competitions, art and other public events. Look out for them here

While the launch of the Year of Forests will be taking place later, I am posting a short story grown out of the combination of the theme of the Year of Forests with that of “Silence,” a writing prompt set by participants of the “52/250 A Year of Flash.” It was first published there

I copy my short story below:

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The Weeping of the Trees

Last spring, I hiked up Mount Olympus. The valleys surrounding its peaks are covered in black pine, beech, yew and tall conifers. On its slopes, vineyards spread precariously; olive trees anchor deep with their roots. Streams cascade to thirsty plateaus. No wonder the ancient Gods lived there.

I stayed in refuges, drank from the streams and breathed the pine-scented air. Cicadas serenaded me; butterflies I did not know existed covered my arms. Wolves lusted after me.

Magical. Yet, I dared not return, fearing the strange sightings and the silence: ghostly shadows appearing through the trees, gathering near water, rushing through the meadows, with a heavy, voluminous silence falling all round. At first, I did not believe my senses. Gradually, I came to expect and even look for the shadows.

Whenever I tried to touch a diaphanous apparition – as if made of smoke – it pulled back, avoiding my hand. I thought I saw it sigh, more as a gesture rather than sound, and glide away.

It was recently that I understood – and felt freed to return. The shadows are the souls of trees haunting the Olympian home of their Gods. Felled unjustly, burned in war, famine, and in ruthless profiteering, or carelessness, they return to plead with them.

Next time you visit Olympus, look for the shadows; seek this silence: If it is not disrupted by a leaf falling, a stream’s gurgle or an animal’s light footstep, know you are listening to the silent weeping of the trees.

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You can find the story in 52/250, together with a number of other excellent stories on the theme of “Silence” here.

She missed many boats

Have you heard the expression “missed the boat?” It is pertinent to
where I live, because there are no cars, no buses to “miss” on my
island. Only boats. There is the boat to the nearest town, and the
ferry-boat to Athens, once a week. No one misses those, as they are
the only contact we have with the outside world. No one, that is,
except Meropi.

After her husband’s boat went down in heavy seas, she never made it on
time to a boat: she missed the boat to her daughter’s wedding, to her
giving birth; to the christening, and then the marriage of her only
grandchild. To the doctor’s office on Naxos, after several days of
suffering the big pressure on her chest.

She was afraid of the sea, you see. A woman born and bred on an
island! Terrified of the Aegean waves crushing on the huge rocks, she
avoided even looking at them. No wonder she missed many boats.

But, no one misses the boat to Hades. So, today Meropi is on time. She
is being carried in her coffin on board, as we speak. The local priest
performed the service already – while, curiously, numerous doves
collected on the belfry – and she is braving the meltemi to reach her
place of rest, on the mainland. I can hear her only goat’s bell
ringing, as if already missing her. God bless her soul; I am not one
for travelling either.

The End

This story appeared on 52/250 A Year of Flash

Literature, Art, Culture, Society, and lots of Haiku