Time has a compulsive curiousity for me. Why, for example, did I feel the necessity this morning to lie in bed for half an hour when I was wide awake and wanting to get up?! It’s because it’s a Sunday, and somehow I feel programmed to have a compulsory ‘lie-in’ on a Sunday! It was beautiful outside, and during my walk with Charlie, I was delighted to see the buds bursting out on the trees and bushes. And yet, psychologically, I was resisting getting up to enjoy the start of my day purely because it’s Sunday.
During my weaving this week, I was thinking about geological time. I was weaving a long piece for my masters. I have no idea how it will turn out, and was feeling a little panicky at times because it is so open-ended. If I wanted to change things, how quickly could I change them? Would it start to look a mish-mash if I changed too many things too quickly? I am focussing on rock surfaces exposed to the elements that were first created through the actions of plate tectonics and mountain building.
Just thinking about how those processes occur and the length of time it takes to accomplish such a thing got me slowing down with my weaving decisions. The further I got on with the length, the less concerned I was with making changes, and more aware of serendipitous happenings such as a shaft not lifting when it should and what effect that would have on the end result. I am using multiple wefts – in fact four – to create each pick, so the weaving is very slow. In fact it’s taken me 2 1/2 months to weave this 6 yd length. I did have a bout of back problems so I couldn’t weave for a while, but even so, this is slow-going.
Then I had the idea to video the weaving of it, showing the repetitive, meditative quality of this slow weaving. During the weaving, and nearing the end, I found myself really enjoying the process of placing the shuttles in exactly the correct position so that I knew which one I was picking up next and the inherent rhythms of the piece. I started to realise that this was my tiny insight into the processes of the earth, the slowness of each pick relative to the whole piece. A tiny glimmer of light, a flicker of understanding, a tentative extending of a fragile green tendril in spring.
You only have one 50th birthday – well, you only have one of each birthday, of course – but one ending in a 0 always has some kind of significance, whether good or bad! And I wanted this one to be a little different. This could be the middle of my life (my paternal grandmother has only recently passed away aged 101!) which means I could have another 50 years left to achieve lots more things. Or it could just be my last. You never know – and that is one of the wonderful and frightening things of being human – being able to be aware of your own mortality.
Anyway, one of my dreams has been to go up in a Tiger Moth bi-plane, and my son and husband made that dream come true this weekend.
Flying relatively high above the Gloucestershire countryside with the wind whipping through your hair (and it was certainly windy!) and actually piloting a World-War II bi-plane was a most amazing experience. With the wind gusting around, the plane felt like it was skittering about on ice. Even when requesting the plane to turn right, it felt like a frolicsome pony, dancing about whilst thinking about whether to listen to your instructions before suddenly deciding to acquiese!
Not only did I get the chance to pilot the plane – actually for most of the flight which was much more than I was expecting – but my instructor took us into a loop-the-loop and a victory roll! Amazing! I can still feel my body’s reactions to those manoeuvres! But what a blast! I even managed most of the descent towards the airfield, which entailed flying fairly low over the M5 motorway – a little disconcerting! Tizi took over for a faultless landing which I didn’t even feel! Not like some of the commercial flights I’ve been on when you feel like the plane kind of falls for the last few feet before it hits the tarmac with a thud!
The wind was probably at its strongest before bi-plane flight is not considered safe, and in the taxiing back to the hangar, it played more games with us. Tiger Moths are incredibly light and we found ourselves going in a circle at one point! That took me back to my first trials at kayaking, when that’s all I seemed to be able to do! In the end, with a bit of human assistance to keep us on the straight and narrow, and the help of some grass for traction, we got back to the hangar.
What can I say?! If you ever want that experience, then go to Tiger Airways and have Tizi take you up in the bi-plane. I can heartily recommend it! I confess to being a little chuffed when Tizi wrote on my certificate that I was composed and intrepid!! Now I can look forward to the in-flight video of the whole thing which should arrive in a few weeks…