I get to visit a magical place in New Zealand when I drop in at Sarah Haliwell's blog, stars in her fingernails. (Don't you just love that blog title, the imagery it conjures?) Sarah, I confess, is the first person I've come across who professes to having read the Mabinogion, that extraordinary collection of tales gathered from medieval Welsh manuscripts, which I read 34 years ago while taking a Danish professor's class in medieval narrative.
The author of a hand-crafted chapbook, Otherwise, a collection of poems and stories, Sarah wears roses on her dresses while "writing at the edge of the world", and wouldn't dream of coloring her "old-lady hair" now that it is gathering long silver strands.
She is, most important, mother to 10-year-old Rose who, Sarah openly admits, has never been to school. Rather, Sarah home-schools Rose — and for a variety of perfectly acceptable reasons, perhaps the wisest being her desire to not participate in an "unnatural" and "insane" act that would require Rose to "spend half her life with strangers". From what I've read on stars in her fingernails, I would say Rose is probably one of the most well-read and gifted 10-year-olds you could have the pleasure to meet. If you have a child Rose's age, does he or she read or know about and understand Shakespeare and Tennyson, Plutarch and Cicero? (Sarah keeps notes on Rose's home-schooling here.)
Sarah has the backbone of the pioneer women we Americans read about in our early-history books, and the soul of the writer she is. As she explains, "why I am a writer/ it's like asking/ why I have bones. . . ."
Dressed, as it often is, in otherworldly photographs or images that remind one of Beatrix Potter and High Tea at Kensington Palace, Sarah's blog serves up highly descriptive, imaginative, and elegant writing about Rose's activities, certainly, but also about Sarah's musings and reflections. For example, this Friday past, Sarah wrote one of the most intelligent responses I've read to President Obama's speech following his receipt in Oslo of the Nobel Peace Prize. (Sarah's essay is titled "the disturbing truth about peace".)
There is a softness and delicacy about stars in her fingernails. A dreamy quality as well, which can lull you when you visit. Its inhabitants Sarah and Rose revel in peaceful living, the chasing of rainbows across a clearing, the joy of being taken in by "the seduction of the sky", and the seeking in shadow and light.
To read some of Sarah's poems, go here.
At High Calling Blogs, we're celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas with 12 Days of Community by highlighting the blog(s) or Website(s) of people other than ourselves or people we think you should know about. As our friend Glynn says, this is something we should be doing anyway, all the other 353 days of the year. This is the seventh piece to appear under the 12 Days of Community badge. The others are:
Day 1: "She Looks for Joy in Now"
Day 2: "Landscape Become Image"
Day 3: "She Listens Multidimensionally"
Day 4: "Four Women, No Calling Birds"