1st September. North west wind rattles slates on the roof. Sun shines through showers.
2nd September. Swallows race across dark bruised clouds. Honeysuckle still in flower and heavy with scent. On the windowsill a round pebble of slate sits, a tresure from the beach, smooth, perfect.
3rd September. Publication day for Tell Me a Dragon. The French edition arrived a few days ago and is bigger and beautiful. Derek and Felicity sent me beautiful dragon eggs by post to celebrate. Thank you. Also today in the post Three Hares by Caroline Carver published by Oversteps Books.
In the morning had a look at the flooring in the kitchen and it looks all the more beautiful for having Iris's tiles placed in among the slates. By evening there were lights, with switches and the start of a sink unit with mt huge sink that came from Ikea many moons ago. Looking good, though I am told there will be no heating until October. Here's hoping for a late summer.
The swallows are flying low and late, desperate to feed after days of miserable rain. Soon, very soon, they will be gone.
5th September. At the end of the lane the harvester is cutting down the wheat to stubble. The field is golden and swallows fly low in criss cross patterns. This field is where my gold leaf paintings first began, driving home in early evening with setting sunlight on stubble. One night the field dotted with black rooks, another with a swift footed fox, burnished red on gold.
9th September. Things that are gold. The fresh cut fields of stubble with hay bales. A beehive with bees and honeycomb, all movement and sweetness. A painted fox on a redgold background.
Things that are white. Seal pups a few days after they are born.
This morning the wind swung around to the south for the first time since the weather vane has been on the roof.
Yesterday it was my birthday and it rained so hard. But in the evening , just as we gave up to the weather and went to take the dogs out in the wet the rain stopped. Not blue sky, but calm and beautiful light as all the bracken shone from the colours of a rainsoaked day. We walked towards the sea and the seals were calling on the beach. A heron flew over, low, slow. Ravens punctuated the sky with black. Choughs danced on the slight breeze. There were more seals than you could count on both hands, pups on the beach and rocks that turned to seals with the flop of a flipper. The best kind of birthday.
Today on a blue sky summer day we went searching for pups at Treginnis. The sun was warm like summer should have been. The wind carried the distant song of seals, right on the edge of hearing, but the pup that is always closest wasn't there yet. Usually it comes late in the season. But there were chough and raven and a sea so blue.
So, in the evening I went to search for owls. In the darkening dimity light the colour was drained from the land behind me, while in the east the land looked golden in the light of the setting sun. Autumn chill was nipping at the heels of summer. It was quiet, but for the distant voices of small children at the daffodil farm, the crunch and pull of grass from the cows. I opened my eyes as wide as wide to let in as much light and I saw across the common land the white flash on a cow's face, the white blush of a clump of meadowsweet, the white scutt of a rabbit's tail, the white brush of a moth's wing, and I heard the moth's wing brush the air, and I heard the pull and stomp of the cows' feet in the marsh, and I heard the call of rooks heading home and the falling, broken song of a lonely curlew. Then across the fields another flash of white, low to the hedgerow, but not the ghost white of the hushwing. This white was ablaze with the fire of the red fox, like a ghost from today's painting, here he was, stalking low in the gloaming, wild, beautiful. And I wondered who was being watched.
Walking at Garn Fawr was sad to see John Piper's studio empty and barred and with blind windows, all light shut out by boards. What a sad state for an artist's studio, denied light and the view that is so very beautiful. "No other artist since Turner has done more to celebrate the British landscape". Surely he must be turning in his grave.
12th September. Things that are turquoise. The sea at Ninewells, lit by sunshine and gold rocks. Pale lichens giving texture to smooth bark in the woods. A dragon, a gift from Kimberly Wise. The patina on the copper bear, going green so swift in the salt sea air. A copper dragon that curls around my ear to whisper stories and secrets, from far away, through time and beyond.
Many swallows swift wing over golden fields by the blue sea. Now that the children are back at school and the influx of holiday makers have returned to work Pembrokeshire has put on her best dress of sunshine and blue sky and is dancing in an Indian summer.
20th September. In many ways this last week has been one of the hardest weeks with all the building work that has gone on. It seemed to make sense at the time. The roof above my studio only had another 5 years life left in it at the most so it seemed a good idea to strip it back and re felt and baton and slate. In some ways the timing has been excellent. The sun has shone for a whole week (unlike when the roof was taken off the older part of the house earlier in the year). There were lots of things that needed doing. This week I have stripped a door, sanded and reconditioned a bath and painted my walls with clay paint from Ty Mawr, Earthborn paint that is chalky and beautiful and doesn't smell. I have taken time away to go in search of tiles for the bathroom and with the help of our neighbour, Jan, who strikes a hard bargain, bought limestone tiles that look like the sea, or layers of white stone. Beautiful. ( Jan has also had Hannah staying at her house all summer so that she could stay close to home.) I have put bookcases together and hung paintings in Tom's room, which is now finished and so different to how it was. And I have hung paintings and moved furniture and thought, and taken the odd moment to keep an eye on the men on the roof in the sunshine.
What I have not done is paint, draw, write. I have thought, but sometimes not even done that. Sometimes my mind has been blissfully empty. Stroking the paint onto the walls of my house I have fallen in love with it. I have always loved living here, but more for what surrounds it than for the house. Now it is becoming something else, with art stitched through its stones and its bones, from the bear on the chimney to the tiles in the floor. Next I am going to strop the paint off the front door and draw on it ( though Hannah suggested that I would spoil it by scribbling on it- I did point out that people pay a lot of money for paper that I have spoiled by scribbling on and if she doesn't mind her p's and q's then I might just sell the front door when it is finished!) And the paint from Ty Mawr is so beautiful. I was only going to use it on the old part of the house, because it is breathable for the walls, but I think I will use it throughout now. Something about how it is made makes the light love it.
And I have ridden a dark horse down lanes with high hedges to the beach where the sea was pulled back so far by the moon that the wreck showed high above the water. Riding on the beach with Hannah on Max and me on Will ( both Jan's horses) in sunshine warmer than any day in summer. Bliss.
21st September. This morning I sat on the sofa with Floss curled by my side and Rosie pup at my feet. I read The Wild Places, beautiful book, while Pixie and Maurice curled on my knee, a great ginger blanket. The house is coming back to itself, full of tigers and wolves and beautiful things and it is these moments of peace and togetherness that I have missed most while the building work has been going on. Bliss.
23rd September. Started the day in wonderful fashion with a twilight walk and a fantastic review for Tell Me a Dragon. Mostly downhill from there, so off to bed to start again tomorrow. But they have almost finished on the roof so hope to be back at work this weekend.