Tag Archives: john ruskin

Sun in the sky, you know how I feel.

Yeah, I’m feeling good. Today is a day off (extracurricular work – I did go to lectures) and it feels much better when it comes after a few days of actually having done some work rather than just many guiltily taken days off in a row.
Sooooo, ink.
new ink
I am going to get four or five more all down my right side/ribs – different species of tree and in different springy, summery and autumny colours – over the next year or so. I am in love with it. I think it is super beautiful. And it didn’t even hurt that much. Arnica makes me superwoman.

Leaves are beautiful, but they’re also a memento mori, for obvious reasons, and even more so for a less obvious reason. I was lucky to know a wonderful woman and rabbi, Erlene, who sadly died last year. She had been in hospital in London for some time and we’d been writing to one another; when I heard that she had died, I’d recently made her this little card with bright green dyed leaf skeletons (I bought them from Millers, oddly), and having nowhere to send it to, it sat on the mantelpiece in our old flat for nearly a year (until we moved out), reminding me of her.

Trees are links to the past, and they inspire me. I like to touch them. And, to quote, erm, myself, “I think it’s fair to say they are much greater than us – so much bigger, older, slower, grander, and harder to hurt. And they do so much for the world, and don’t do anything evil or malicious. They’re a home for birds, insects and all the coolest animals of the forest, like squirrels and bats. Um, actually I think bats live in caves. But never mind. And they make the air that we breathe. They’re amazing.”

Some (many) people translated this respect and awe into actual tree-worship (cf. The Golden Bough). Lots of funky nature worship stuff right here in Scotland, and to a perhaps surprising extent trees and nature are important in Judaism too. Most obvious example would probably be the popular idea of Etz Chaim (The Tree of Life) or Tu Bishvat – we celebrate the trees’ birthday! yay! – but they also come into play at Sukkot and Shavuot. The Torah – the Law – itself is described in a common prayer as being “a tree of life for all who hold fast to it: its ways are ways of pleasantness, and all its paths are peace.”

Ruskin love: “The leaves of the herbage at our feet take all kinds of strange shapes, as if to invite us to examine them. Star-shaped, heart-shaped, spear-shaped, arrow-shaped, fretted, fringed, cleft, furrowed, serrated, sinuated, in whorls, in tufts, in spires, in wreaths, endlessly expressive, deceptive, fantastic, never the same from footstalks to blossom, they seem perpetually to tempt our watchfulness, and take delight in outstripping our wonder.”

This particular leaf came from a hornbeam tree in George Square, near the labyrinth; I picked it up just after a very pensive stroll around it last week, when I’d been thinking about lots of important things that I still am not entirely ready to go into here because they’re complex and hmm, painful. But lots of other nicer things as well. And, yeah, I am incredibly happy that I came here to Edinburgh and have a lot of respect and joy and happy memories and all that sort of stuff tied up with that particular geographical area. don’twanttoleave. Now I’ll always have a little part of it with me, forever.

Amusingly (I only found this out the other day), hornbeam is the Bach Flower Remedy used “against feelings of exhaustion and tiredness that come before an effort has been made. The person in this state feels that he or she is too tired to cope with the demands of the day. It’s easier to stay in bed or put off making a start – but if an effort can be made to get started the weariness will fade, a sign that unlike the Olive state this is a mental rather than a physical weariness.”
The website quotes Dr. Bach himself: “For those who feel that they have not sufficient strength, mentally or physically, to carry the burden of life placed upon them; the affairs of every day seem too much for them to accomplish, though they generally succeed in fulfilling their task. For those who believe that some part, of mind or body, needs to be strengthened before they can easily fulfil their work.”
I have an anti-procrastination tattoo! Heh.

And just to make today even more awesome, I got a nice jumper from a charity shop for four pounds.