Monday 27 February 2017

Exploring Castleton With Mary Oliver

“If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy,
don’t hesitate. Give in to it…”
- excerpt from “Don’t Hesitate”
by Mary Oliver

“…all the while I am thinking of the gift
of my seventy-some years and how I would
also if I could carry a message of thanks
to the doors of the clouds.”
- excerpt from “Lark Ascending”
by Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver, whose praises I have sung before in this blog, is an American poet who has the access code to my soul. Born in 1935, she is wise and worldly and wonderful. I fell in love with her when I read her advice to people who are grieving: “It is better for the heart to break than not to break.” I was grieving at the time, and her words calmed me.

Earlier this month, I read her 2010 book of poetry, Swan (Beacon Press, Boston), from which the two excerpts above are drawn. As always when I read Mary Oliver, I slowed my reading down, the better to savour and absorb.

Mary Oliver helps me age.

Joining Mary Oliver on my list of favoured people is my friend Lindi. Her blog, Ancestral Roofs (link), celebrates “the built heritage of Ontario.” Witty and erudite, the blog is an excellent read. Mind you, Lindi could make sleeping snails sound interesting, but I digress.

Recently, Lindi posted a blog entry about Purdy’s Mills – now The Mill at Piper Creek – in Castleton, just north of Colborne and Highway 401 in Northumberland County. I had never visited Castleton before, and my curiosity was piqued, so off I went last Wednesday to check out the village and mill for myself.

Tying all this together: as I wandered around Castleton, Mary Oliver’s thoughts and spirit kept me company. Her gentle, loving explorations of the ordinary seemed to fit the village perfectly. It was a grey day, the snow was melting, and winter’s hidden detritus was re-emerging. The village was not yet ready for tourists, which is one of the reasons why I liked it. No doubt, spring will bring out brooms and brushes, but for now, Castleton is happy just being itself. Praise be. I plan to return in the warmer weather, but I can’t imagine that I will enjoy it more than I did last week.

The photos below are an evocation of Castleton and Mary Oliver. And my dear friend Lindi. Thanks to all three.

1 comment:

  1. An honour to be on the same list as Mary Oliver. Kind thoughts, kind sir.