I walk Dog and my elderly neighbour around the block. I do not put Dorothy on a lead, please understand, although she does alarm me as the tractors pass.
'That's all right,' she says, stopping unpredictably under the bucket of a Massey Fergusson; waving at the grey bearded driver; 'is that one of ours? Oh yes, I know his mother. That's Christopher.'
Christopher waves back.
'Yes, I know his mother,' she grins, walking on, after the machine has crawled carefully by. 'It is lovely to be out here,' she says. Her eyes flitter like a butterfly over the hedges, the old chapel all done up, the quarry busy with forklifts today.
I had been walking past Dorothy's garden when she asked where was I going: around the block? Could she join me?
'Well of course.' I wait for her to check that she's turned things off in her neat home, and she keeps pace very well and breathes easy up every hill.
She tells of how she used to walk around the block, all the way down to the river sometimes; but she's afraid to go alone now, lest she fall. Her friends have took falls, she says, and none of them are too good after. She speaks of six sisters; one has sadly passed, aged but sixty-three, but that does happen, sometimes; one doted brother; how they would go walking with him while he rode along on the pony. They had fields and land near the Tavy river. Grew vegetables, cooked their own pies. She looks at me, to see if I understand. I nod.
The self made pie!
Fat cloud wobbles, rain does not fall. Sun is appreciated. We have washing hung out.
Two prisoners of war lived here, she remembers, as we clear Treniffle: one in the bungalow, kept it tidy, the other was in the cottage next to where Dorothy lives now. Married two sisters, they did, and old Mr Perry gave them work. Did Max go back to Germany, for a visit? Only once, maybe. Married two sisters, she repeats, they had work, so they stayed. One of the children, she thinks, moved off to Australia.
'I've forgotten your name,' she says, laughing, mid conversation: because she can recall Hans and Max but not me.
They've cut the hedges, she notes, they had to widen the field gates too, to get the new combine in. Christopher told her about it. Or was that last year? She points out fields near ready to crop, a colour like nuts, she says: sorry for slowing you up. She grins.
'It's the old lanes.' Dorothy seems satisfied, that there has been change and no change, as she had hoped and expected. 'Will it rain, do you think?'
'Later,' I say, and would make the point that rain will turn up and maybe something else about how it all changes and stays the same: but Dorothy knows this. And has forgotten the girl is come to cut her lawn. She scurries to greet the girl, to say 'Sorry, I've been around the block: you know how I used to walk the block, all the way to the river sometimes…'
I am smiling because I am sure Dorothy has also forgotten the girl's name; and the girl is a grown woman; but I bet she never hesitates over the recipe for a self made pie.
Back to my garden I go, to cut marjoram for drying.
|Dog waiting for marjoram sticks to chew up. |
She loves to help out.