Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Portraits, Post Summer


Through thick warm air fly globules of delight for field foraging birds: free range slug stuffed with organic homegrown tomatoes, freshly plucked from my polytunnel, and hand flung over a blackthorn hedge. Served with a shout: ‘It’s the circle of life!’
This is a rare day off, but I’m useless at slacking. An assembly of grandchildren would assist. They would love slug hurling and interrupt every other thing. 
I’ve put the last of the lavender to dry, and a batch of rosemary, and calendula. Chives are cut, bagged, frozen. Tomatoes salvaged from predators and blight. Raspberries picked. The washing pile eradicated, for a day. And so, and such until the clouds pink and the sky darkens and a fuzzy moon loiters. Then I sit in my hammock and listen. I hear a mollusc munching. Birds lullaby. Owl.
No further action is required.
No bedtime-stalling supper, no stories to read, no stinky nappy, no ailments or shrieking laughter.
Think of the culprits instead, a little inventory, a list of pictures from an uproarious hall.

Grandchild 1. Aged six. The Daredevil. The Fidget. Adept complainant, secret appreciator. Gives himself away as we watch how still he holds to keep the falcon happy on his arm, and deep in the Otter Park woods, even away from admiring crowds, he crouches to charm and hand feed the deer; and a wallaby; and three turkeys that might have pecked him.

Grandchild 2. Aged five. Tomato Thief, Trainee Cook. Holds her knife upside down, regularly. Can pick up the construction kit and whip up a stable with functional doors. Can laugh at herself. Knows the recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter. She can say ‘Grandad did it’ with conviction, at least until the laugh bursts out.

Grandchild 3. Aged three. Princess Obsessed. Politically Astute. For whom ‘wearing the trousers’ is appropriate only as a metaphor. She knows her own mind and will articulate it clearly, although violence is kept as an option. She puts her hand on her hip and quotes: ‘It’s called a hustle, sweetheart.’ Growing too big for her party trick now - to balance on one of her father’s hands.

Grandchild 4. Aged two. Reluctantly verbal. Joyously defiant. He knows well his primal feelings. He will sit on a beach in buoyant calm, creating a garden from sticks, pebbles, feathers, seaweed. He considers each material before its placing. Loves to stargaze. Loves to do everything his brother does. Strong on the monkey bars, though his arms don’t quite span the gaps. He holds on and grins regardless.

Grandchild 5. Newborn. She cries. She hears her Nanna speak to her and quiets. She is figuring her place; last to date in this line of successions. 


Grandchild 1

Grandchildren 3 & 5

Grandchild 4

Grandchild 2, and Granma 

Friday, 9 September 2016

Early Autumn: An Absurdist, Berry Picking




In my mind the seasons have been separate gods.
Spring, a maiden, moving ice to melt; summer, a predator, hot, basking, growly; autumn, a russeted stag, richly coloured, rarely frivolous; winter, a skeletal beast, empathetic, stoic, truthfully harsh.
This year’s transition differs. Summer, gently, in the thick of mist, becomes Autumn.

It’s not that time has existed in seasonal boxes, rather I had thought of each year-quarter as a thing outside of time; eternal, revisiting. Time was something we viewed them through.
This year, something in my mind steps though the window.
One thing becomes; replaces, supersedes; another thing, an evolution, and more precious for its brevity.
I have run with gods for years and years, I have knelt to marvel, not unseeing, not unmoved. But this year? It is only I, feeling heat soothe out of earth, observing leaves slowly gilded, reaching my fingers to a ripened blackberry; yet more amazed, more alive to the miracle than I ever remember. The simpler it gets, the better.

One day at a time. Yes, this.

In a hand mirror note purple lips, check purple teeth. A royal colour. Grin. Beyond precious, perceive: life’s grand absurdity. I ask myself the question - supposing I had been a success?
(Materially, I mean, in a career.)
Even as I’m laughing a rainbow half arches through cloud.
Spilt ink, the most important kind.