Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Fruits And Flowers


Monday Evening:
Bundled solar lights in the polytunnel give tropical leaves an artic-blue slant. Ten slugs are plucked from the soil: moist bits of muscle that contract on touch. They have no concept of ownership, nor of work: their lives seem harmlessly simple, apart from this misunderstanding between us. They eat our work before it fruits: their boneless bodies are fed to nesting birds.
Wood smoke moves through the house, startled up by the wine blips. After a good day's work, feet rest up and the gardening books are open.
Tuesday Morning:
Everything green gets bigger and bigger. Lawnmowers are pushed to keep the grass from swallowing all of civilisation. The butternut squash might form its own government. We edge the vast leaves, placatory. 
'The feed is working,' we agree.
Underneath, the spinach is finding a way, the sweet peppers seem content.
Over at the shed the roof seems watertight.
'Exciting times,' we agree.
There is still a problem with cats.
Tuesday Afternoon:
Garden plans are forwarded with digging. Slugs and odd bugs are chucked mid-lawn. Dog eats a dandelion root. Turned earth is covered, put under wraps. It is hot and heavenly to think of coming back to this plot and knowing all the preparation is done. 
To watch the flowers open and know: we did this.



Monday, 26 May 2014

Bank Holiday Family Meet


The last tent to arrive is put up in laps of drizzle, next to the old fashioned frame tent, facing the giant ex-display bargain. The last tent is a modest dome, suitable for short stay camping. But not, it turns out, as waterproof as it should be. Rain is sieved by the flysheet: the big tent has the same problem. Ad hoc towels soak up the worst of it. There's a moment that will be familiar to most damp campers, where everyone considers giving up. Once the indoor picnic is spread; oh my heavens, it goes on for miles; that moment is consigned. It's not so cold, after all, once we've found some dry socks and this fine dining. It's only one night, after all. What's a little rain on your olives? We will eat and talk; I'm on Chapter Ten, I can tell them; and Little Grandson will stay up late playing Uno, looking sooo casual in his dinosaur onesie. He loves his cousins and his baby brother: but they are rubbish at card games thus far.
The morning is made for drying tents. Wind blows, sun shines, everyone is tired, relieved, rewarded for persevering with the feast. Jobs get done, one by one, until the children and the dogs are close to sleep and the cars shoe-horn packed.






Thursday, 22 May 2014

Of Words And Swords And Chicken's Milk

'Gronmere,' Little Granddaughter says. [Transitioning the name previously spoken as Nam-ma.] 'My flowers are getting Very Big in the [a pause here: aware of the word 'polytunnel' uncertain how to turn it to sound] shed. Very Big.'
'Yes.' Gronmere is blowing up a balloon, the sort that can be folded into symbolic shapes. 'What shall we make?' [Expects the answer 'a flower.']
'Milk for a chicken.'
'Milk for a chicken? Made from a balloon?'
'Yes.' [Laughs, as though Gronmere's puzzlement is surely faked for her amusement.]
Outside, a continent of cloud drifts by. Rain flattened grass eases vertical. The lawn hops with happy blackbirds. Leaves of the iris wave, spear straight.
'Sword fight?' Gronmere suggests.



Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Weather Report, Late Spring



Monday Afternoon:
In the polytunnel a sunflower swells close to bloom. Peas climb and look merry; something in the curl of those tendrils: how they reach to the world. Leaves on a butternut squash, squash a few stray spinach plants and the leeks, encroached, will need a rescue soon. The tomatoes have their own cul-de-sac, opposite the nursery shelves that are stocked in repurposed pots. In here it simmers with life, it brews up out of the soil, this amazing overboil of leaf and frond. And even outside, it is hot.
Washing is crisp on the line.

Monday Evening:
After the storm, after the lightening bolts horizontal over the road ahead, after the one roll of thunder heard; the long deep roll over the moortop; a looking glass puddle at the roadside shows us the stilled sky, the tree branches leafed and quiet.

Tuesday Morning:
Dark swarms; washing is unpegged from the line. Squares of yellow and blue fold over the wire clotheshorse instead. Under the lean-to roof there is a problem with cats. Loganberries grow from a barrage of cardboard and empty coal sacks; grow like vines, heavy with fruit. Thunder bounds out, over the wild moors; rain on the plastic roof falls voluminous.
Through a cloud split, sun makes eyes squint. It lights the horizon, the portentous pods of cloud, forms a bold shadow from the fat-trunked ash.





Monday, 12 May 2014

Dersu Uzala



There is brainsteam (imaginary, vivid as a scald) hissing from my ears: sign of a fine writing binge: also indicates an apt time for a break, before reality is hazed out.
Dog is pacing. She has fulfilled her sofa sleep quota.
'Walk?'
I have asked the right question.
The lanes splash blossom; creamy foamy Cow Parsley umbrels of blossom. Blue and white and pink and yellow shine below: bells, worts, orchids, cups. Split tailed summer birds dive and the cows are sun bathing, between bouts of warm heavy rain.
All day it fast switches: rain, sun, both full. The rainbows are thick with colour.
Back in the little office room, words arrive and are typed down. Between words, weeding and watering and the planting-on is done. And de-slugging and the whipping here and there of wet washing. Hedge birds sing, just of ordinary things. Dog follows, puts her nose over the grass: all seems well. All the windows and doors are open to the scents of rain and bluebells.
In the evening, the film, the one in the envelope that has been waiting for one week: two: more? Finally gets watched.
Do you know the story? There is more than one story: there is the hunter, Dersu Uzala, who lived and died in the forest, where he truly belonged; who could be always busy and always calm; there is the director, Akira Kurosawa, who signed to make this film the year after his failed suicide. He had thought his art denied to him after a commercial failure cost him his financial support.
The whole thing, in short (because as this is written it is late and eyes are sloping) fugues: here I am, tiny, happy in nature, nervous of the future: there is Dersu, connected, compassionate, total in his faith, for whom the forest will provide: there is Kurosawa, who summoned death in fear and still progressed.
It feels that so much of our selves is put into these projects; in words, in garden plans, in deeds of shed builds and earth dug, in dedicated hours; and yet it can all be taken away. We are deeply attached: a terrible void would occur. This is the source of my fear. But we will know what we are capable of, and those hours would never have been wasted. That dedication is its own reward, it builds its own path: and that is the way I will go.


Friday, 2 May 2014

Flash Blind And Plum Times


Flash Blind On Thursday
April's Alphabet Challenge is completed: I look it over, satisfied. This years tactic of the random word choice proved easy in that there was always a subject available for each letter; difficult in that I don't write from prompts. It was a shove outside the comfort zone. Any exercise performed outside this zone gives maximum benefit for effort: I feel toned and ready for May's challenge: a (fingers crossed) final push of Finishing The Novel.
This morning and more is taken up with a slug war (fighting back for the basil and melons with salt and garlic: smells better than other wars) and driving Boy to Places. Later this afternoon, with Dog, walking, down by the river: not the desk time I had envisaged, too beautiful to argue with: all the trees gain leaf weight, the hedges swell, the summer birds arrive. Time, then, to ready oneself for going out to work, to let go of what has not been achieved with the day.
We are on the doorstep, about to get in the car. A passing embarrassed blonde in running gear loses control of her three dogs in our driveway. The potted grape vine is knocked over. Cat spits from the fence top. We help catch the animals while the poor girl apologises. Her earphone cords are tangled in the big dog's muzzle.
Thursdays, I think: what is it about Thursdays?
We head for Bude. Six of our twelve students sent to Blackbelt grade recently are from Bude: they gather tonight. After the classes are called to dismiss, we line up for photos. Eyes blur with the flash bulbs popping. We are smiling.
Impossible to say that not much was done today: it all sets up that line about years of work paying off.
Start now: what ever it is you chose: one foot, one word, one other: without this, nothing. See it through: one foot, one word, one other at a time. Without this: nothing.


Plum Times On Friday
It is time for me to get my current Work-In-Progress finished. The house is in a bit of a mess, which is entirely normal for here. But a workstation will be required for the last writing push, so my notes don't get lost or smeared with illegible gravy. So first I must Tackle The Office.
(Imagines self a mere dot surrounded oppressively by dusty grey concrete immoveable blocks.)
Everything here is waiting for another thing to be finished, we are all stepping over things and fixing and hoping it will work out: wobbly like novice tightrope walkers and a bit further up than we are comfortable with… It is time to hold nerves tight and be thankful for our opportunities. The budget is certainly tightrope thin: but it is present and we are clever with our limits. We have two creaky leaky yet functioning cars, at least one of which is usually road worthy (my car's bumper fell off this week.) There's a minor slug war in the polytunnel but I love sitting in the tropical steam. Nextdoor Chickens love their daily slug food parcels. We have a cheerful chaos, out of which wonderful flowers may swell to wonderful fruits!
(Imagines self in gaily coloured folk costume, singing from the top of a compost heap, holding a ripe plum.)
Tonight's teaching takes me to Plymouth, where four of our newly Blackbelted students hand over bottles as expressions of gratitude. Plum times, indeed.