Monday, 22 July 2013

Blooming Where I'm Planted.

Gillie left a comment on my previous posting and included the thought-provoking idea of 'blooming where I'm planted'. I realise it's something I've always tried to do, although at a few times in my life it has become rather more a case of making the best of a bad job.
Sometimes I have been where I didn't want to be, more often psychologically than physically.
For the past twenty or so years I have been mostly here, at home in my Victorian house, in my labour-intensive garden, mostly alone in the last six years of widowhood, surrounded by memories and echoes.

The family house, once rather crowded, is now comfortably spacious.
My husband's workshop, which I wrote about here......... well, look what has happened. Most of the plastic boxes containing nails and screws, the containers for lengths of string, the countless drill-bits and other assorted bodging and hitting tools are still in place in their wall-mounted compartments.
But the main space of his workshop has become a store-room for baby equipment.........the pushchair, high-chair, bouncing-about-chair, the baby bath and other essential items in pastel colours.
What was a severely, somewhat guarded masculine space has bloomed into something quite other.

There is much sadness in the thought that my husband and grand-daughter will not meet. He would have been totally captivated by her, a willing slave, as indulgent with her as he was with his own infant sons. But I wonder if he would have emptied his work-shop for her baby gear. I suspect he would have built another shed for the purpose.

But he has built a shed for what will soon become her purpose.
He built Walnut Cottage for our sons. It was their playhouse, but then it became a bike store, and later still a wheel-chair store. Now it needs to become a playhouse again.

The pattern of my life here feels like the seasonal changes in the garden, from the growth and freshness of spring and summer, to the ripeness and maturity of autumn before tipping back into the quiet solitude of winter. I appreciate these seasons equally.
I need them equally in my life.

I am blooming, not exactly where I'm planted, but where I am irrevocably rooted.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Another Morning.

4.30 a.m. and dawn breaks outside my bedroom window. I am woken by the light, and then alerted by a cat stand-off in the road. Two of them contesting each other's right to be there. Vocal protest, postural threats, neither able to break eye-contact. Luckily, no traffic. Then a distant dog-bark gives them the excuse they need to turn simultaneously and run in opposite directions, dignity and social position more or less intact.

It is already warm, and I think of getting up and doing the ironing before the real heat of the day kicks in, for it does feel like a kick.
We are not used to this in England. The odd couple of days, yes, but not for any length of time. Not with temperatures over 30 degrees and the sky dotted with little clouds that barely move.
I think about the ironing, and then I think about not ironing.
My son is staying for a few days before heading off to distant lands again, so I think about food instead, and how I can prepare meals without cooking.
Then I go back to bed and try not to think of anything, but instead am unexpectedly swamped by sadness

I miss people.
I miss people who have moved away geographically, and those whom death has taken. I miss loves requited and unrequited and the complexities and richness they brought to my life. I even miss myself when young. I think I'd like another go at being young and try to do it better.
But then I see the complex web of cause and effect, and see that I could make very few changes without altering the essential pattern, and there is nothing I would want to change in the essential pattern.

I didn't expect it to happen, this getting old business. It crept up on me when I wasn't looking.
Like the cats, I was posturing, keeping eye-contact, maintaining my status and all the time age was creeping stealthily up behind me, so that when I turned to flee I couldn't.
I could walk with a certain dignity, but it had got me and I couldn't run anywhere.
So now I suppose I walk towards it, hoping that, like the dawn, it brings promise as well as threat.

On the whole, it would have been better to get up and do the ironing.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Early Next Morning.

I awake early, make a cup of tea and amble out in my nightdress to enjoy a few magical moments, like yesterday.
As I round the corner I see that my strawberry patch, source of pride and considerable enjoyment, has been appreciated by others.
Overnight the badgers dug out a bumble-bee nest.
That's wild-life gardening!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Early One Morning.

This is a section of my complex garden. Complex, labour-intensive, demanding.
At least once a year, just about now, I think I can't cope with it any more.
Everywhere I look I see weeds. The vine grows visibly, strangling everything it touches. To prune, or rather hack it back, I have to clamber up on a stone wall, and use a stepladder. Ground elder romps through the fence between me and a railway embankment, as do brambles and goose-grass and many other undesirables.

Every day I need to work here. I have to so something to try and keep control.
Some days I'm out here for hours, other days an hour is all I have.

I could be on a cruise.
I could be lolling about on a beach in Cornwall.
I could be on a plane, travelling to visit far-flung family.
But I'm not.
I'm face-down bum-up in the garden, finger-nails that have never known a manicure clogged with earth.

Then, one morning, this morning, I wake early. I make a cup of tea and go outside, still in my nightdress, and am surrounded by magic.
There is dew on the grass and the air is filled with bird-song.
The Crambe Cordifolia (on the left of the picture, by the lamp-post) sends wafts of honey-scent across the lawn. There are glowing jewels of colour in the herbaceous beds and on the rock-garden.
Stipa Giganticae shines golden and shimmers into the slightest breeze.
The sun is warm on my back, and no one except the birds and a visiting kitten can see me in my nightdress.
For half-an-hour I experience perfection.

No pain, no gain.
I wouldn't have it any other way.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Letter to an Eight-Month Old

Dear Small Grand-daughter,
You were eight months old yesterday, and you are making so many determined efforts to be independent. Your efforts currently take you backwards as you attempt to crawl. You are poised, rocking in baby push-ups on hands and knees. When you realise, as you will at any moment now, that in order to move forwards you will have to move your hands you will probably pitch  forward on to your nose and it won't be pleasant. None of those who love you can prevent this shock and possible hurt.
It is essential for growth that we make mistakes and learn by them.
In learning to sit we fall backwards, in crawling we pitch forwards, and in walking the bumps and bashes are immeasurable.
At the moment you are still factory-fresh, protected and unmarked.
It can't stay that way.

So much of growth and learning can be disconcerting, shocking, even painful. It's going to stay this way. because it's also essential, valuable and wonderful.
I think you are already learning that life can be quite an emotional mixture.

I have been with you for a few days, enjoying proper interaction now, a lot of chat and play, some clear questions as you look for information, lots of reading and book-study (manual and oral), many, many smiles and laughs, and then some real tears because I put on my spectacles and changed from someone who is now familiar into a stranger with a different face.

You can control things. At the moment I must not wear spectacles, and your father may not wear a hat because that changes his shape, too, as the spectacles change me..
You can tell us very clearly what you like and dislike - most visibly and graphically in the way of food.
You like noise and music, especially making music with your father. You watch his hand movements and copy them, then resort to a closed fist for greater effect.
You approve of (almost) everything your mother says and does, and you like to keep an eye on her all the time, swivelling to watch her as she moves around, stilling when you hear her voice from another room.
You like cats very much and want closer contact, but fortunately they are more agile than you.
You want to see everything, be involved with everything .........and so you hate your essential daytime naps and resist them with every fibre of your being.

Your hands, which three months ago were a source of wonder to you as they moved around, are now precision tools which can pick up tiny items, a fleck of spinach or a scrap of fluff in a pincer grip and then flatten them with an open handed swipe.
Such power!
Your vision, which a few more months ago was limited to black-and-white, bold colours and shapes, can now follow the erratic flight of a bee in the garden and detect small changes in familiar items.
Your hearing is acute and you are distracted by unfamiliar sounds. Yesterday we sat together at the kitchen table, just listening and quietly commenting on sounds, a distant motorbike, a helicopter, the tattoo of fingernails on the table top, the crumpling of metallic paper, bird song.
Everything is new and fresh and interesting, and now it's beginning to make sense.
I wish you safe adventuring and endless learning, Little One.

With love from Grandma.