Now Winter begins. Not officially of course, until the Solstice, but in the minds of us all in the Southern Hemisphere, June ushers in the chill of shortened days and long, frosty nights.
The morning light is clear as it slants across the landscape from its refuge in the north. But as daylight wanes, it is softer, more diffuse, like lamplight through muslin. The last few maples glow as though lit from within, a final blaze of colour before their dying leaves surrender to the waiting earth.
On one such afternoon I took my customary walk. The road was quiet and only the restless calling of currawongs broke the silence. As I passed a copse of trees, something – some quality of the light – compelled me to stop. It was so still, the sunlight probing branches, flashes of bright green ferns, dust motes, motionless in the air.
How did it happen, I wonder? How did reality shift in such an unexpected way? I have no answers. But suddenly it was as though I glimpsed another dimension. It stole across my field of vision, slowly, gently, transforming not the scene itself – it remained the same, tranquil, mellow, beautiful – but imbuing it with a sense of joyful anticipation. Had a flock of fey creatures with gauzy wings appeared, riding the dust motes and shaking the ferns with their laughter, I should not have been surprised. This was the realm of fairy tales, the native heath of the little folk. I have always loved their stories, yet this was my first experience of their world since childhood.
I stood, enchanted, until the vision faded, perhaps a matter of minutes, I cannot tell, for I lost track of time. Seamlessly, the scene returned to the everyday, still tranquil, still mellow and beautiful, but no longer the magical dell where fairies dwelt.
I have thought about it often since that afternoon. Scientists tell us there are many dimensions, and I have no cause to doubt their theories. Can it be that the stories of the fey folk are simply the result of those moments when the veil dissolves, revealing images for which we have no framework in the mundane world? Perhaps our brains construct metaphors drawn from our own experience in order to articulate the inexplicable. We spin tales of tiny beings with wings, fantastic creatures drawn from a million dreams, translated into terms we can understand.
So often, we seek normality, shun the mystical, the mythical, for fear it should carry us away like dancers in a fairy ring. But when we are open to novelty, when we are prepared to hold in tension the knowledge that we understand so little, are able to perceive so little, then a shift in consciousness may produce unexpected results. And when that happens, we cannot always describe exactly what we have seen, but we can always share the way it made us feel.
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Last week I composed and recorded “Pavane for Autumn”. It is only now that I have chronicled my unforeseen excursion into the enchanted realm that I understand why I chose the crystal bell chimes. They are the sounds one would hear in that world whose portal opened so briefly on an early winter’s afternoon.
Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Klb5hZWQ9fg