Today I had my last exam which marked the beginning of my month-long winter break. This semester seems to be have skipped by so quickly and yet I come to end of it feeling exhausted and needing to unwind and spent some time on the slower, gentle things - time to catch a train to nowhere with my sketch pad; to go to the theatre; garden; spend more time with my family; meet up with dear old friends; to garden; visit the sea; finally fly a kite; and more than anything work on my illustrations. But I have a lot of time; and it is a beautiful time of year. Almost a year ago I was getting ready to go to Scotland with my family. This photograph was taken in a real little tanglewoods that my sister and I found behind our cottage in Port Appin, Oban. No scene has yet rivalled its ancient and invigorating presence.
Today I also went to a funeral which was beautiful and sad. It was for a woman who had a gracious and gentle spirit - who was loving and generous and seemed to touch everyone she met. It was my step dad's mother and I was moved by his and his siblings tributes. My step dad is one of the most wonderful, inspiring and generous people I know and to see how his mother shaped who he is is very humbling. It made me think of how blessed we all are to experience and share life and love with others. Death is always confronting - but in it we remember that is just a pause between this life and next. As Donne knew full well when he penned the Holy Sonnet "Death be not Proud" - those last lines last lines speak truth: "One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be be no more; death, thou shalt die"