It has started. This evening I was standing at the ironing board flattening the hems on a piece of white cloth measuring 250x250cm. A blank canvas.
I’m readying the backdrop for a poem that will be born from a year outdoors, radiating, as if following the hours of a clock face, from the central point marked by a single, remarkably ordinary, sycamore tree. And we’re poring over maps to work out some of the walking routes we’d like to take during the course of the year, getting to know more about the many layers of this place.
I am feeling the draw of the wide open, the space that we will be walking through, observing, sensing – we will spend time being wet, dry, wind-buffeted, exhilarated, tired, sure footed, and even warm. And we’ll be learning about different aspects of this landscape from other people as we go. It’s exciting, and compelling. My subconscious is tiptoeing through maps of language and place, some hidden in my memory, some still to be drawn.
We first mapped out this project in the autumn of 2017. We’ll be walking through a landscape that’s certainly not new, but much of it is unknown to us, and we can’t predict our experiences in it. And having the canvas will add another element. My feet are all but twitching to get out there, and the words that will find their way into the canvas and into poems are pressing at my throat.
The forecast for Sunday is bright sunshine. Temperature is due to be minus 1 (but may feel like minus 5 with the wind), and there’s a chance of snow. Rob and I will head out to the centre of the clock face and walk a small circuit around the tree as we get a feel for the space, and think and talk about the objectives of the project.