My dad was a chauffeur, gardener, and sometimes traveling companion to a wealthy retired military man. The cottage in which we lived, an ancient stone structure built on the side of a hill, was situated on the grounds of a large estate. Our living quarters were upstairs. The lower level consisted of two garages that were once carriage houses. The old stable area was used for storage. It appeared to outsiders to be an ideal environment for a child growing up, and in many ways, it was.
I was raised in an extremely strict home environment and while I was not a lonely child, I was alone. My parents severely restricted interaction with other children other than during school hours. I had to be home immediately after classes ended. As a child, I played in the fields and woods of the estate with an Airedale Terrier named Tinker, and later, with Peter, a Cocker Spaniel. Occasionally, if he had the time, my dad would take me for long walks. It was during these outings that he would teach me about Nature ... what to look for in ponds and lakes. He taught me to love the woods, meadows, and mountains. He bought me books dealing with Nature and taught me to respect all living things. As a youngster, I thought of my dad as this incredibly strong man, the rock in my life. There was nothing that could ever get the better of him, but cancer did, and he died at much too young an age. Apart from those few precious moments with him, I was left on my own to expand my knowledge in solitude.
I regret that the words, I love you, were non existent in our house, as were hugs. My mother felt strongly that such words and actions were indicative of weakness of character. For me to cry about something was reason for a spanking. It was many years before I was able to tell anyone that I loved them, and the words do not come easily for me, even today. I still fight the urge to cry.
The positive result of my upbringing is my ability to enjoy my own company. My frequent withdrawal into self is not a bad thing. I've learned to make good use of it. I'm a writer because of it. My regret is for the many years I didn't allow myself time to write. I know now that I suffered because of its absence in my life.
I'm a dreamer, a mind traveler. When I sit beside a stream, I am the stream. I feel myself as thousands of drops of water skipping merrily over stones and boulders, resting in shallow pools, and allowing native fish to swim through my reality. When I see an autumn leaf being carried along in the current, I become that leaf, and when the river meets the sea, I feel the transition between fresh and salt water. I am a branch in the wind, the sea palm washed up on a lonely beach, the moon rising beyond Superstition Mountain. I often find myself feeling the vibrations of life in even the most inanimate of objects, rocks, grains of sand, old fence posts. My poems are for the most part Nature related, however, the human condition does not escape my scribbling. I can become the homeless person I see in a doorway, his or her world packed into an old shopping cart, the young black man in the ghetto who has just seen his best friend senselessly stabbed. There are times when I wish my mind would stay home and take care of its own business, but I'm totally dedicated to writing and for that, I need to be either very deeply within myself or way outside my own reality. Writing is the only way I know to share with myself, and with others, what I feel.
It would be nice to publish some of my work, but the possibility of such success is not my reason for writing. The hours I spend alone at the computer or sitting outside with a notebook and pencil are first and foremost for my own therapy, my way of dealing with life. Sharing with others is the custard on the pie.
Vi Jones 2001