Sunday, 7 March 2010

The Road

Ansel Adams (Feb. 20 1902 — Apr. 22, 1984), photographer and environmentalist
Road after Rain North Coast California
This is dedicated to Rima Staines and Tui who inspire, create and live without fear and who I have come to love and treasure through Rima's blog (see list of blogs and sigh)!


She was born on the Road, she told me and had been on it ever since. Rhoda was a rover with eyes like dark chocolate with stars in them. She had learned to draw when young and gone on to paint and write and look - always to look. There were times when other people could not bear to look, but Rhoda had because in looking she was a testament to the event - a witness. Her parents had settled and put her in school when they could, but they knew the Road was singing to her, longing for her as she longed for it. Pulling at her skirts, begging her to come along and go. Sometimes her mother would catch her daughter looking along a street out of town and smiling. Her mother knew there would come a time when... well all you can do is train them for when that time does come.

Rhoda learned how to make a fire from twigs and dead branches. She learned how to do it when they were damp and liable to smoke. She learned how to see and catch fish in a stream, how to know what berries and such like you could eat and what would harm you if you ate them. She pulled in this knowledge like a greedy frog, longing for more - all of it preparing her for her later life.

Still thanks to friends and her arts, she went from school to university, learning to drive along the way. She revelled now in making her artwork, learning the skills to make each media do as she wished and to hear the song inside the materials too. The road called her and called her. When the rain came it was as if the world wept because she would not come, but she hushed it to patience. She would soon be on the road.

She met him singing in a room, not singing quietly in case someone heard, but proudly as if the whole world needed to hear him. Tom had a deep well of strength and courage in him that called to her. His strength was not brutish, but he understood how and when to use it. He used wit to diminish threats and even laughter. He too it seemed had heard the Road calling since he was a boy and now their university days rushed to their end. They would walk out in the last of those days, food and a bottle of something with them. Walk happily along the roads out of town. Tom would sing as if his heart would burst if he did not and she would join in for the sheer love of his singing and of him.

And the Road goes ever onward and we go because we must.

They saved and bought a car. It was not enough. Tom made musical instruments and played them. People began to buy them and then to buy his music that he recorded now and then. It was no use, after a while he concentrated on the music and the instruments and left the visual arts to
Rhoda. He said that his love was art, that every time he saw the stars in her eyes he saw art - and it was good. They sold the car and with their savings bought an old horse-box. Now Tom took all his knowledge and craft and went to work. Rhoda helped him too and they made a home from the horse-box. All the time the song of the Road rose up in them as if it knew that the Road's time had come. Rhoda and Tom travelled then in the horse-box out of the city and into the quiet lands that live and breathe and move regardless of men and women.

When they stopped, their hearts wild with the Road's song, almost breathless with it, the took in the greens and the browns and the greys of the landscape. They could hear the distant bark of dogs in unseen farms, the crows talking to each other, the whispering of the trees and the bright chatter of birds. The air smelled slightly damp, dusty and fresh. The wild was watching them and trying to work them out, but the Road glistened with sunlight - with joy.

For the Road goes ever onwards and we go, we go...

Rhoda made a fire of damp twigs, carefully for they were liable to smoke otherwise. She went through the woods finding hazelnuts and blackberries and certain leaves they ate as a sweet salad. Tom laughed then, threw back his head and laughed for sheer joy. Rhoda joined him, understanding this pleasure. They travelled all around the countryside these two - they sold their music and paintings and clocks. Rhoda was commissioned to make works and send them. They made friends with strangers who could not help but love these travellers, the Road singing so sweetly in them. The made friends with dogs and cats and even horses who responded to the song in them. A dalmatian dog followed them for a little while as they left a town, with Rhoda laughing and telling him to go home. A cat was discovered sleeping beneath a cupboard when they were out of town and Tom had to turn around and go back so Rhoda could deliver the cat to its people. Horses would come to hedges to greet them when they stopped and were fed an apple or a carrot.

There were times when they met those who could not understand or hear the song of the Road and hated them for hearing it. The horse-box engine grumbled and sulked and would not go at times. The roof leaked rain now and then. Sometimes when they slept, a great lorry passing would make the horse-box shake as if their little ship were being thrown by a great wave.

After some time, they found a harbourage, a beautiful settled home and the Road let them alone for a while.
Rhoda settled to her work as did Rhoda, but they missed the Road and longed for it still. They were still young and knew that the song in them would call them on and they would go. But not yet.

For the Road goes ever onward and we must go.

6 comments:

bad penny said...

Oh I do like that - the call of the road and how spirited to go

Sharon said...

The open road with the one you love, always a good thing! Unless of course he's relying on my map reading....

Griffin said...

I am noivous, I just hope Rima likes it.

Well he found you on the Tube, so he should be alright without you reading the map!

So good to see you back Sharon. Take care of yourself... no casually glancing over your shoulder while going downstairs for example!!

Rosemary in Utah said...

Griffin,
My father was in the (United States) Navy, so we moved often. I don't feel "roots", but that seems to be OK with people like us, and it's easy to uproot if need be.

Also, I looked at your friend Rima's website & art, & saw right away why you liked it.

Griffin said...

Rima's travels were fabulous to read about as much as her art is fabulous to look at and utterly full of stories. And while I'm familiar with Kerouac and Woody Guthrie as travellers, Rima's travels were very British and that was a wonder too, so I imagined her coming to the Road.

She might be settled now, but I'm sure the Road will call her on again... maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of her life!!

gz said...

I have always been drawn to the work of Ansel Adams. The image sits well with your dedication to Rima and Tui.