Monday, 17 April 2017

A Slice Of Wedding

In the way that a wedding cake, or cheese if you prefer, is a whole, of which one has a slice, this is my version, my slice of wedding. It starts well before the day, with making syrups and painting signs, but this writing will begin the night before, with Mr and me and three little granddaughters.

The littlest, Grandchild 5, is teething. Grandad is sent to the sofa, so one of us will be alert enough to drive to the venue. In-between her gnashing of bumpy gums comes adorable cuddles, like she is saying thank you, and admirable wind. At 3:30am magic exhaustion kicks in. 
At 6:27am Grandchildren 2 and 3 appear, complaining that they cannot sleep.
Granma says: ‘Go jump on Grandad.’
6:35am Grandchild 2 returns to complain that Grandchild 3 has snotted on the carpet, closely followed by Grandchild 3: ‘But I’ve cleaned it up, Granma!’
Granma says: ‘Go jump on Grandad.’
Grandchild 5 opens her sparkly fresh eyes.
Granma says: ‘Coffee.’
Bless her, she can’t remember where she’s put anything, but somehow coffee, breakfast, clothes, a packed car, it all happens. (Grandad did help.)

En route, the girls want to play car games. Granma daydreams of a nap. The sky is blue-grey, soft, almost sunny. The venue is an old mill turned hostelry, white and wood and calm, perfect for napping. Only by now it’s all too exciting. Grandsons and their cousins tricked out in bow ties, waistcoats, looking like a barbershop quartet. Grandchild 2 explains her dress as ‘purple and like this’ (hands make parallel vertical lines) ‘then it goes POUF!’ 
They’ve heard there’s an egg hunt and can’t wait to get started - what’s all this nonsense about sitting through a ceremony first?
Granma says: ‘You will be awake, and smiling, if you want eggs. It’s called a bribe.’
The deal is accepted. Flower-fairy girls handed to bridesmaids, Granma scurries to her seat, skimming linen past lit candles.

Here comes Mr, walking his youngest daughter through the bright room, and it is no surprise that she is beautiful and glowing, but it makes us cry. We don’t mean to, the tears are suddenly there, warmly overflowing. It is a ritual, yet not too formal - a naturalness to it, a sort of relaxed perfection.

Vows and rings exchanged, we follow the newly wedded out - children disappear and pop back, and disappear, each time a little more smudged in grass and chocolate, shirts untucked, shoes abandoned - they run up and down the path yelling ‘SUGAR!!!!’
Grown-ups reply: ‘Alcohol!!!’

Everyone happy. Even during the speeches, which are not always a highlight, but here are done without glibness, they make us smile. It’s the hijacking of the speech that is my icing on this slice, however - when the Best Man’s son, the youngest nephew of the Groom, is loitering, and given the microphone, an opportunity to say whatever it is that’s making him hover so.
He says: ‘I love ponies.’

For the record, the young man is a keen horse rider.

That wasn’t the end of the day, of course, but that’s the bit I wanted to share. And that on the way home, bamboozled by satnav decisions, we saw a jaybird, a rare specimen, then two ponies with glittery hooves. 



L-R: Grandchild 1, Grandchild 2, Cousin 1, Cousin 2, Grandchild 3, Grandchild 4

L-R, Groom, Best Man

Amused Bride

Bride with her brother, niece (aka Grandchild 5) and sister

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

March Lion





Paws and claws to the door, breathing storms
In it roars, the third month of this year
Daffodils bow bright manes to the King of Spring.
Each unfurling - leaf, petal, tadpole - belies the windchill
Warmth is washing in.
What is left of our snowdrops - dotted foam of an ebbed wave
By night a waxing moon was pulling up tides, and we dreamt
Our feet, unshod, pressing across tawny sand






Tuesday, 14 February 2017

At The Time Of The Snow Moon





The moon is a frozen pond.
It is The Snow Moon. The Hunter’s Moon.
Someone says a lunar eclipse will happen this night.
And a comet!
We are like children with torches forecasting midnight feasts…
But we slumber deep, lungs with cold air replete, minds a-wander.
An early start.
Wake to the sparsest spaced flakes - ten to a cubic furlong, perhaps.
(Perhaps we dreamt this precise detail?)
Blearish eyes are rubbed.
Ahead, a deer, in no danger from ice-wary driving, springs across tarmac.
From a canopy’s winter bones, an owl swoops, parallel.
In a blink, a hedge bird breaks our reveries.
Clips the car, sends feathers a-puff.





Friday, 3 February 2017

How Will We Know Where We Are?





Without the dead ash looming, we had lost our sense of where our drive is. Each time we missed, reversed, reminded ourselves to find a stump and a grand wood pile: that’s where we live.
The altered reference.
We are getting used to it.

Yesterday Storm Doris broke the legs of Lily Scare-the-Crow. Literally weather beaten!
Was this venting frustration, now storms cannot break branches from the chopped tree?

When Lily was our new scarecrow, we would reverse under precarious boughs, be startled by the  person in the rear view mirror, the flat wooden figure with the child-drawn face.
Now, after remembering where we live, we are startled to not find a face.

Lily has never scared a crow, nor lost her smile. She is, rakishly, propped in the lea of the lean-to.

‘What new times are these, Lily?’ I ask. ‘How will we know where we are?’
Ask your heart, she says (it’s what I hear).
And I think, that’s rich, when you don’t have one: but she’s never scared a crow, nor lost her smile.






Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Out With The Old





Christmas or November - 2015 - a phone call came. The casual branch dropping of our dead ash tree had been acknowledged as a danger; it was scheduled for demolition. Storms came, the tree surgeon was busy.
We become accustomed to vigilance at the garden’s end. No one loiters in the road there. We drag the droppage to the hedge, to rot down into good soil.
January 2017 - another phone call. Tree surgeon and crane are booked, the landlord says.
Uh-huh.
It may storm yet, we say, we’ll see.
But we park the car out by a field gate - you never can be sure.

The crane is amazing. It straddles the road, reaches to the sky. Up goes the man in the yellow mesh box. Chainsaw whirs. Bit by bit, down drops our dissected tree.

Dear Fat Trunked Ash, we have loved your silhouette. We have loved to run and startle off a coat of starlings. Loved to see Old Crow sat, stark black on bare branch. We witnessed the last of your leaves falling, looked for buds that didn’t bloom, changed your name.
Dear Dead Ash, we have our near-miss stories. Favourite photographs of you, looming, a full moon caught in your dry twigs.
We have this amazement at the power and skill required to bring your bulk to the ground.
We have wood to sort.

Blurry, the next morning, from the window, check we are not dreaming.
A new view from this garden’s edge.