To Hills and Waterfalls: a Californian in Calderdale
This was first posted on Osho News
I was invited 10 years ago to come to this beautiful, rather hidden valley in the English Pennines; I was supposed to be the resident oracle of a new healing centre… which then never happened. I stayed on – and it has been an eventful time, what with floods, a period of homelessness, moves to different villages and neighbourhoods, and the pandemic. The thread that has tied it all together has been the glorious, rugged, hilly, incredibly varied walks I’ve taken every day, all over these lovely wild hills.
Naturally, I was writing poems during this time – about any and everything, but often about what I saw on these walks, or while lying in bed looking out the window at the always-alive sky, where clouds march and form and dissolve and form anew, in fantastical shapes, in the flow of island winds.
And, naturally again, I took a lot of photos on my walks – of summer flowers, and winter snowy woods, and gorgeous spreading views from high places… and radishes I had grown, and ferns in the woods, and people’s kitties, and oh, all sorts of things.
Recently, I was invited to move elsewhere (it’s still not clear if this will happen, but at the time it seemed certain) and I wanted to say a clear and loving farewell-and-thank-you to this valley which has been so good to me. A book would be just the thing! And it seemed a good idea to illustrate the poems with relevant pics. In fact, during lockdown I had gotten into writing haikus and taking a pic for each one, to post on FB. So I would just include these.
I wanted the book to be produced locally, and I thought that donating half the proceeds to local charities would be a happy and luxurious thing to be able to do. It might also encourage local businesses to carry the book. I asked around, and 2 charities emerged: Community Cares, which began during lockdown times but has continued; they do all sorts of helpful things – recently they reared and then distributed an enormous number of tomato plants to low-income residents. They also help homeless people. They run a much-liked, roomy, rather high-class charity shop where the old Visitors’ Centre used to be. The other charity is called Slow the Flow, and they do things to help prevent flooding – something this valley is prey to. By expanding storm drains so that run-off goes into a new waterfowl sanctuary, flooding has already been averted – just a couple of weeks ago!
The founder of Community Cares, a high-powered little woman called Jan, organized a book launch for the end of this month, where there will be readings-aloud – also by other local poets – and refreshments.
The book is being printed in Mytholmroyd, just a brisk little walk down the canal towpath from where I live; 200 copies to start, with a sticker to be put on each one to inform buyers about the charity affiliations. The editor and final proofreader are also local. The designer is fresh out of university, where she studied book publishing and design; this is her first job. (Oops, she’s a ‘they,’ not a ‘she. Sorry, Blake!) Funding came from a local source (well, an imported one, but local now – thank you sooo much, A. C.! And for the help with publicizing.) Fliers are going up around town.
And once this phase is over, it is planned that the book will be uploaded to lulu and made available on my website. My web designer assures me that the proceeds can be automatically diverted to the charities when a sale is made.