Last Sunday morning, as I was walking along the cliffs at Ballycotton, Co. Cork, I came to a complete standstill when I saw a set of stones that looked liked the torn out pages of a copybook, some lined, others blank and yet more with bits of artwork.
The lined stones brought me back to nib pens, ink and Father looking over my shoulder as I tried to copy beautifully formed letters with my eight-year-old hand. Line after line of capital Js, small js , capital Fs and small fs, capital Ms and small ms ….. blotting paper soaking up the worst of the mess and Father’s hand eventually guiding mine as we produced the ‘perfect’ letters together and then I managed them, albeit a bit wobbly, on my own. Looking at the unlined stones, I couldn’t but think of the blank pages that have faced every single great writer, poet and artist.
How fortunate we are that they could write; how fortunate I am that I had my father taking an interest in cultivating my ability to form letters and my mother feeding me with a passionate love of books and reading.
As I gazed at the stones, I just thought how a blank page and the ability to write are such precious gifts. In my wild imaginings I could see Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Keats, Yeats, Jane Austen, Emily Dickinson, Maeve Binchy ….. stopping at those stones and leaning down to write masterpieces. I also saw Father’s calligraphy and Mother’s ‘Love from Us Both‘ and promised myself that I would never again see a blank page as anything but glorious pathway.