Blues…

Abrolhos Island Blues

Abrolhos Island Blues

I’m mad for blue.

It might be my favourite colour.

When I was first shown the cover of “Sinning Across Spain”, the ratio of village to sky was different to the final version. My only request, because I thought the design completely beautiful, was for more sky and less village. That was partly because the experience of walking had been much more about sky and solitude than village and community, but it was also my delight in that intense turquoise, chosen by the brilliant designer.

Blues…

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Smoky Katoomba blues

There are so many of them in life’s Derwent pencil box, and all sing to me of horizons and skies, distance and possibility. Of opening, adventure, salt spray and infinity.

Why, then, do we say that we “have the blues” when we are sad or wan?  Why not the purples, which seem to me to be much more fraught? Or perhaps the browns, which are murkier to my eye, and more like the way I feel when I can’t see woods for trees.

My online dictionary suggests that the first to use the word “blue” to mean “sad” was Chaucer, back in 1385.  I wonder why he didn’t choose to say he had the “greys” – the colour I associate with those lowering English skies.

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Serene Elwood Blues

And why do people sing the “blues”? The great B.B. King says the blues are an expression of anger against shame and humiliation, but to my mind, that sounds more like the “reds”. The “vermilions” even!

I’ve had a dose of “the blues” lately. Nothing big. Certainly nothing that compares to the stories I was honouring and hearing as I walked 27 kilometres across seven bridges and through miles of national park in Sydney’s Seven Bridges Walk. It was a fundraiser for the Cancer Council, and I’ve rarely been more conscious of how fortunate I am to be walking and laughing with friends.

The Cancer Council employs a bright yellow daffodil on their logo – surely the colour of optimism and hope. Walkers who were supporting research for breast cancer wore pink – for some, the colour of birth and renewal and hope. I wore white  – possibility, clarity, purity, perhaps. My intentions were pure; I was walking for the possibility of a brighter future; and I was holding clear memories of people who had lost lives to cancer.

But, blue. Why blue?

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Sky Sky Sky Blues

You know, I don’t feel I’ve had the blues. I think I’ve had the beiges, actually. A kind of grubby blah colour. Nothing to write home about, and brought on only by focusing on the minutiae of my own fears and inadequacies. I think maybe I need to go out and get me some periwinkle blue sea. Or some cornflower blue sky. Some perspective! After all, there is so much to celebrate…

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Delighted blues! Grateful blues? The book has just had another reprint, for which SO many thanks to all who have recommended it and supported it – and its author. Thank you so much. xx

May you have all of the blues all day long: the best and brightest of blues, the shimmering shiny blues; the deep naviest of blues; the crisp new blues; and the soft soft babiest of blues. Have them all – and throw off any greasy old greys!

And a postscript…If you feel like celebrating, raising a glass, kicking back and hearing some stories and poems, I’m going to be presenting a scaled down version of my Sinning Monologue at Travellers Bookstore in Melbourne on November 21st. I’d so love it if you came along. Claire is a great hostess and I promise to deliver with every bit of me! There will be French vins and fromages, and Spanish vinos and jamons – and hopefully lots of travel stories shared! Details for this – and several other events – are over on the Events and Media page. So hope to see you before the year closes.

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Gifted words

One unexpected pleasure given to me by Sinning Across Spain has been an insight into the reading habits of others.

I love the chain formed by reading recommendations. When we enjoy a book and suggest or give it to someone, it’s an intimate bond. We’re saying that we believe we know someone well enough to predict their pleasure, or to excite their curiosity.

So today I thought I would share some of my recent gifts. I hope I’m guessing correctly when I say I think you will find something to love or entice in the selection.

The words are interspersed with photographs taken by Gail Bradley, who took my book with her on her recent jaunt to Spain. It was an indescribable treat to see that turquoise cover under Spanish skies. A kind of homecoming. That one above is taken inside Sagrada Familia. My thanks to the sterling work of “The Hand”, too.

Sinning in the Mezquita in Córdoba

This first is from one of my sinner-angel-sponsors:

In order to do what you do, you need to walk. Walking is what brings the words to you, what allows you to hear the rhythms of the words as you write them in your head. One foot forward, and then the other foot forward, the double drumbeat of your heart. Two eyes, two ears, two arms, two legs, two feet. This, and then that. That, and then this. Writing begins in the body, it is the music of the body, and even if the words have meaning, can sometimes have meaning, the music of the words is where the meanings begin. You sit at your desk in order to write down the words, but in your head you are still walking, and what you hear is the rhythm of your heart, the beating of your heart. Mandelstam: “I wonder how many pairs of sandals Dante wore out while working on theCommedia.” Writing as a lesser form of dance.                                                                   I thought of you immediately when I read the above paragraph in Paul Auster’s Winter Journal.

 

 

Sinning Across Spain at Morella

This next came from Andrew Rooney, giver of many word-gifts here at blog city.

It’s Pablo Neruda.

So let no one be perturbed when
I seem to be alone and am not alone;
I am with no one and I speak for all.

Someone is hearing me without knowing it,
but those I sing of, those who know,
go on being born and will overflow the world.

 

 

Seville Sinning

From Paul, who wrote the Mexico City guest post.

“Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.” – Søren Kierkegaard, Søren Kierkegaard’s Journals and Papers, Part 1: Autobiographical, 1829–1848, p. 412

 

 

Sinning in Seville’s Alcazar

 

This next sonnet has been with me for decades.

It was given by Howard Brenton, a visiting British playwright, back in the eighties when greed was good and things moved fast.

The soft-cover volume it comes from is called “Sonnets of Love and Opposition”. It is tattered, as you might expect after traipsing with me for almost thirty years, but Howard’s inscription is still clear.

“Knock hard. Life is deaf.”

 

Love, a small plant, flowers                     

Oddly, busting through                           

Unseen cracks, but

Always with a vivid logic, down along

The fault lines in the way we live-

Dear dandelion

Smashing up through concrete

To meet

The sun against arguments of rusty iron

You give

A blaze of right in a dark wrong

Slit wide the life shut

Up in a backyard, your new

Light opens our powers

 

 

Gifts.

Words, photographs, stories. Lives shared and intimacies exchanged. Last week I was introduced to four new living Aussie poets, and today I bought myself a copy of a recent translation of Lorca’s Poet in New York. Such wealth. I am richer than Rinehart and better off than Bill Gates.

Thanks to the givers of words, and a loud shout of gratitude to Gail for giving my book such a very very fine old time. I have more photographs of Sinning’s Camino with Gail and the Hand, and will post them down the track. For now, just gratitude and grace.

Gracias.

Sinning, the Hand, and the exterior of Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

A postscript.

I’m off to Perth tomorrow to visit family and friends over there. I like to think of it as another kind of Finisterre. I’ll try to post a sunset from land’s end on the Indian Ocean.

Gracias. Grazie. Merci…

…Thank you…

To the exceptionally talented Trisha Garner, who designed the cover of SINNING ACROSS SPAIN. I’m told that she and the tireless but tasteful Cathy Smith at MUP worked their way through about ten iterations of it in order to reach the final version for which I am so grateful.

You can see the front cover in detail by clicking on CONTACT in the bar above, and while I don’t have the technosmarts to figure out how to upload the full back cover with text and other graphics, I can put the photo up here so you can see it in close-up.

And the photo credit? Yours truly!

Mind you, I’d hate to give the impression from the cover images that the road was all blue skies and sunshine. That would be too hilarious! So to prove there were other kinds of days, here is one more from my files…

I got a million of THEM!

But at least the rain stopped pelting so I could take that one.

Anyway, I’ve learned there are many more components to a physical book than I’d ever imagined.

So thank you Trish. I celebrate your gifts.