Saturday, 29 June 2013

How to make a Fairy-tale Bed

Oh night thou was my guide
Oh night more loving than the rising sun
- The Dark Night of the Soul

The Princess at the Curtain, by H.J. Ford.

I have found that inspiration comes to me in most beguiling form at night. So it is that many of my most beautiful imaginings are night-visions - developed in the day - but engendered in the darkness and stillness of deep night. At those times - when no sound is heard throughout the house but my own breathing; when my family sleeps, and when I look out across the harbour and see the lights shining - and listen to the elements outside - at those times my inner self starts to speak, and in the stillness I hear. 

I've learned to listen to that night-voice. It tells me true. And thus my story begins. 

It happened last night, around midnight: I had been sitting up late, writing and listening to music. After I at length turned off my light, I opened my casement window and sat for a while just smelling the sweet scent of water falling in grey curtains onto the harbour, which could dimly be guessed at from the ferry moving like a point of light across the water. I could taste the freshness of the air, and from the dark tree beside my window, the dripping from the myriad shadowy leaves made percussive music that eased my heart. 

Rain on leaves is a musical and soothing sound.

I found myself wishing that I could sit by the window all night - that I didn't have to retreat to the stillness and silence of my bed... I imagined myself making a bed by the window out of cushions, and sleeping there all night. It's the sort of thing my child-self had often thought: "I'll do that one-day when I'm older". And I thought - yes! - I will do this. Is there any earthy reason why I should not try it? To be sure, I might sleep uncomfortably; my bed might collapse in the wee-small hours of the night; I might wake with pains and stiffness - but what are those risks beside the allure of breathing the breath of the wind all night?

What child does not dream of sleeping out under the sky?

So I turned on my lamp and set about constructing myself a bed. Actually, "nest" is perhaps a more appropriate word. 

Near the window my otherwise square bedroom bulges outwards into a semi-circular nook with leadlight casements all around. That's where I sit and write, and right now it contains an easy-chair, a folded-easel covered in artificial flowers and scarves, and over a dozen fairy-books, which I have been consulting in my writing. What better material to construct a magical nest, than fairytale books?

If someone sleeps in a bed made of fairytale books, the stories whisper in their ears all night and bring enchanted dreams... 

I arranged the books past the seat of my chair, like precious bricks to give my nest structure. Then I went to my bed and stripped it of its coverings - I folded my quilt and stuffed it, with one of my pillows, between the books, then bound them all together to the chair with a blanket. I then took my second blanket to sleep under (since the night air was cool) and covered it all with my Botticelli covering. I turned off the light, made sure my writing book was beside the nest, and snuggled down, looking out at the rainy night and the darkly luminous sky. I was lulled to sleep by the music of many waters - the sea, the rain, and divers other secret tricklings and patterings. 

I slept beneath a sky both glowing and dark.

This morning I awoke without an ache, and spent a long time gazing out meditatively at the overcast, azure-shadowed harbour, until in the distance I saw the grey sky and sea draw together - and the rain began again.

A harbour dawn - the borders between the sky and sea begin to blur.

Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me
- Dante's Prayer, Loreena McKennitt