Posted by: Linda Proud | January 24, 2011

The Way of the Goose

Aphrodite riding a goose - the Pistoxenos Painter

I’ve been concentrating of late on finishing a novel about Fra Filippo Lippi and what blogging I’ve done has been in Writing Historical Fiction. This one, which has been on Blogger up till now, laid neglected, mostly because I thought that all it contained were my angry and grief-fuelled posts when my mother was repeatedly hospitalized in the last year of her life. It doesn’t. There’s much more in it than that, and I’ve tried to strand it thematically through ‘categories’.

Three things have happened this week to bring about this new start. I finished the novel and, having time to play, learnt how to import Blogger into WordPress. Turned out to be easy. Then I decided to walk across America. More of this anon. And then, last night, I watched a TV drama with Pete Postlethwaite and Thora Hird called ‘Lost for Words’, obviously a dramatisation of the experiences of the author, Deric Longden, in losing his mother. Thora Hird – it was like seeing my own mother again, with all her beauty, loveliness and incredible daftness. The last scene, of her hand laying down on top of her son’s, was cathartic. The thorn came out of my heart and, after eighteen months of dry-eyed grieving, I was free.

So it’s a time for renewal.

The reason for the name  ‘gooseways’ is simple: I have a great love of geese, both in reality and symbolically. It is my totem bird. OK, so ‘goose’ is a name for a fool, so it’s apt. But it is also a bird sacred to Aphrodite. I like that – it puts the goose on a par with Parzival, who was God’s fool.

I live opposite a watermeadow on the banks of the Thames and we have greylags with us most of the year. Canada geese come for their holidays around Christmas time. This year we had hundreds camped by the frozen ponds and puddles. Their all-night honking was quite something. ‘It’s like Slimbridge,’ said our elderly neighbour, Gerald, one snow-bound morning as he came back from a walk on the meadow. Sure enough, there were birds as far as the eye could see.

Pilgrimage began before Christianity. Early man was nomadic and some of his walking was spiritual practice: walking to certain sites at certain times of the year is as old as we are as a species. An early symbol of a pilgrimage route was a three-toed goose foot, and that became the shell of Santiago, or so I read somewhere. The goose is sacred to Aphrodite. The wing of the goose gave us the pen. The flight of the goose gives us the way. And the berry of the goose gives us terrific crumbles.

The aim is to post on Mondays on writing, or general things, Wednesdays on weeding (which could be about books or gardening) and Fridays (on walking). My other blog, dedicated to historical fiction, will have posts on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. That’s the intention, but geese don’t come to the call, and aren’t always where you expect them to be.

Cupid and Psyche



  1. It’s fab dear girl and I LOVE the photo of you in your PRAM!!! I just have been so busy in the Fields that your finishing your novel has eluded me :: WELL DONE. I will buy one when I return, post too costly to here. Love and jollity! Hope you did celebrateby the way.

    • Thanks, Marella! Actually ‘finishing’ is such an ambiguous term, a great duvet of a word covering a great many stages of refinement. In reviewing the old entries on this blog, I found all the agony I’m suffering now was also suffered while I was finishing ‘The Rebirth of Venus’. I’m not surprised by that in itself, only that I happened to keep a record of it, which is so useful. Then I was obviously still changing stuff even after typesetting (‘happily the typesetter is flexible and doesn’t mind me changing every other word’!). This time I’m employing David. I read a chapter or two out loud to him every evening. It’s a painful process of much stumbling and stuttering as he quizzes or objects, sometimes more than once in any given sentence; but better that than looking up to find he’s asleep and realising that the story is on Bummerplatz.

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