Recently I had the pleasure of visiting with one of my early teachers, Pat Fairhead. We had a lovely conversation over tea; we talked about art and exciting places and watched the ducks which still converge on her cottage for corn until the river freezes over. Pat has a wonderfully expressionist brush and a passion for the Arctic – to which she has been 7 times. The most recent trip was September of this year and she is in her late seventies. She is living proof that our limits are often dictated only by our own imaginations. The day was overcast and snowing gently and I must say I found myself the most relaxed I had been in over a month.
It goes without saying the world is changing quickly, and seems to be more unstable in recent months than it has been in a very long time. Its effects are inescapable for most and all too direct for some, so a peaceful visit was like a tonic.
I was feeling energized at the end of the visit and decided to drive into Bala and revisit the Wilson farmhouse. I had not seen it since early May and was anxious to see it in snowy splendour. As I went toward the bridge over the Bala Falls, an orange light in the window of the old stone church caught my eye. At first, I thought it was a light on in the building and quickly realized that it was a reflection of the setting sun peeking quickly out of the mass of snow clouds under which we have been shrouded for so many days. I turned around in my seat to see it. I couldn’t pull over right away, but when I did, I was rewarded with some of the most breathtaking gold and pink light.
I no sooner snapped a couple of quick photographs and it disappeared behind the clouds once again. The camera could not catch it in full beauty – I think some things are a gift for memory alone. Warmed by being given a gift that I might have missed entirely if it were not for the Church window, I began to reflect on how another journey I had been on – a journey of Spirit.
A few minutes later I arrived at the farmhouse with barely enough light to catch the subtle values of snow in shadow and the gray water of the river. The house still stands beautifully overlooking the Moon River and its mantle of snow hides, for now, some of the trials of age. I sometimes wonder if a house could speak, would it tell a story of its past, or muse on time as if it were the very water passing by its front door.
It seems that the apparent dark times force us to be thankful for so many of the simplest gifts that we are offered by being lucky enough to be alive right now. In that can be found the deepest, richest inspiration. In a year where Christmas may be lighter on the exchange of gifts, we have the opportunity to see how rich we already are in our hearts.
* The Burgess Memorial Church – built in 1926 by the town’s founder on Burgess land. Designated a Heritage Building in 2002. Built due to certain town Presbyterians rejection of the uniting of the Methodist and Presbyterian Churches. Locals and cottagers were encouraged to bring stone for the building of the Church and some fieldstone was brought in from as far as the United States.