To Dream of Better Places

“It is so like me
To dream of better places”

I’ve been doing a strange kind of hibernating – the kind that happens in the full flush of springtime. It began when nuthatches were building their nests, under that canopy of trees near my home. We discovered new walking routes then, every possible walk within thirty minutes of our doorstep – we discovered new parks, where dogs were walked and frogspawn was found in the pond. Now it’s July. Many of the pond-dwellers have little legs now, and young birds of the first brood may even have left their nest.

A nuthatch (Sitta Europaea). They’re monogamous, apparently

I’ve been in touch with family, but not really anyone else. Please forgive me for not getting in touch, to check that you’re well and offer encouragement. Through my warped logic, it seems I concluded something like this: the larger the crisis, the less able I was to be of help or encouragement to people. Hence the strange hibernation, a quarter of a year in which I was healthy, cherished my privilege, and no-one I knew personally was ill. Praise be. But as social circles contracted, I rolled with it and cast my attention to the ultra-local and the fictional. To Earthsea, Ursula Le Guin’s fantastical but anthropologically convincing world, and to the historical or manga-derived locations of Studio Ghibli’s output.

There’s a lot going on in Earthsea. Also, the maps are helpful for telling my east from west

It is so like me to dream of better places – as Jenn Wasner sings in her new Flock of Dimes song. What about this place? This real earth, many of whose natural details we have recently delighted in afresh. This wounded society. Can I take the dreams of my hibernation and turn them into substantial blessings or weapons, having seen what’s worth fighting for and fighting against? That may sound grand. But to do so gradually, sustainably, and in whatever place one finds oneself, just sounds like a responsible way to live.

Can I update you on my creative project? With tortoise-like endurance, I’ve been labouring over one record since 2019. And having been influenced all along by the constraints of vinyl (duration, volume, etc.), I’ve conceived of this music in two distinct halves, or ‘sides’. ‘Side A’ has been the focus of my work during lockdown, and is tantalisingly close to being finished. My plan is to have a digital release of Side A quite soon, before summer’s end, accompanied simultaneously by a Kickstarter campaign. This will raise funds for the completion of Side B and for the making of some actual tangible albums! And ideally it’ll raise some interest in the album as a whole. Here’s where you come in, community nucleus: what fundraising campaigns have captured your attention? As Kickstarters offer rewards, are there some rewards you think I could offer? I’ve had some ideas for a zine that could accompany the album; but if you have an especial taste for hidden songs, or Flora and Fauna-themed aprons, let me know.

As is probably quite important, I’m genuinely excited about these songs! They’re sounding fully realised, texturally interesting… Flip, I need to let you hear this. Please keep in touch and be ready for a finished song next time!

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