Friday, 29 April 2016

here and there and everywhere

it's funny how the zeitgeist thing goes.

scanning the interpixies to see "who is doing what" these days reveals that 


is the current favourite workshop flavour.


i think it's always been mine.

i have fond memories of my wonderful class teacher at Shelford Girls School in grade 5, who sent us outside to randomly choose a foot square patch of ground and then
after we had made our choice
explained that we were to study it closely
map it
draw it
write about it
count the insects walking across it
imagine ourselves to be their size
see the grass as a forest
make rubbings of it with pencil and paper

i'm pretty sure that Mrs Pownall has long gone to the dogs above
but i don't think i will ever forget her

the classroom was always filled with flowers and seeds 
and bones and other assorted found things

a couple of years later my love of language was nurtured by the redoubtable Mrs Williams, a flame-haired and passionate Scot who read us poetry and made history come alive.

my father instilled in me a love of maps and wandering
while my mother had me drawing plants almost from when i could hold a pencil

 i have been trying to remember the first time i offered a class that brought all these things together and i think it must have been 'mapping country' at the Kapiti Summer School of 2009
which evolved in various ways, stepping sideways into fieldwork
and eventually blossoming as being (t)here or being t(here)
it works either way.

 similar workshop titles are sprouting around the whirled
"where is here" and "you are here" are two that i found this morning
both with subtitles about mapping place

for me it's less about mapping, these days
and more the practice of
paying attention to where we are
finding beauty in sometimes surprising places
considering the poetics of place, even in the parking lot
and each time i offer this class
whether it's in the heart of a city
or deep in a wilderness
or somew(here) in between
i find my life wonderfully enriched by the people who join me.

T H A N K    Y O U

all of you who have been on the journey with me.
i'm so grateful that you give me work.

work that i love.


  1. It is a privilege to wander beside you. Long may much loved work be yours.

    1. bless you, me sweet. those are kind words.

  2. i remember reading about your mapping country, instantly thinking of john mcphee's coming into the country. how country is big. but mostly, how mapping requires attention, looking, knowing and ultimately love.

  3. being here has been my life long motto . i am happy to be joining you again in san francisco .
    kathy dorfer

  4. I love to go a wandering, along the mountain track, with a valdehi here and a valdero there . . . . a childhood songline I remember - your description is wonderful India, wish I'd had teachers such as yours in my early and later childhood. Mostly self-discovered for me - and so grateful that your path crossed with mine in recent years. Looking forward to a few more paths crossing here and there. x

  5. must be the zeitgeist, or did you start something? though Laurence Durrell wrote a book called spirit of place way back in the what, the 70's? and his brother Gerald then did a more humorous version entitled spirit of plaice .... we were talking about spirit of place this week in the writing workshop I'm taking part in on landscape, and I showed them your cards ..... they loved them, of course.
    I'm very happy that you do this work and share it here, it makes a difference, I'm sure

    1. Ach, the Durrell brothers. I still quote from "my family and other animals", and "the Alexandria Quartet"...delighted the cards are travelling far and wide

  6. It's good to have your wonder-seeker eyes and words to gently open our own eyes to what is about our feet.

  7. I agree with 'LocalandBespoke', it is a privilege and this is a delightful post.

  8. Getting back here a bit late....but wanted to say that a handful of people have entered my life who, by their example, have opened my eyes to a whole realm of possibilities I'd not seen before. So at the great risk of sounding sentimental I'd like to thank YOU for that journey, while I keep counting my lucky stars.

  9. All such beautiful words and imagery and thoughts... I love the idea of poetics of place and space... in the here and now. By the way I am teaching workshops in Australia and New Zealand in April 2017.

    1. make sure you allow yourself time to see a bit of both countries...