I’ve been in the city for too many days this last week.
The terrier is giving me that look and especially since we removed two bush ticks from him early this morning. We assume they latched on three days ago, during a suburban cliff-top walk.
When I catch myself in the mirror, I am dour, wondering at whether he’s escaped unscathed or if some canine illness will now emerge. They were very engorged ticks.
Despite that I have beautiful woodpigeons in our city trees and a host of silver eyes who flit here and there, outside the gates there are unforgiving grey tarmac paths everywhere, the roar of traffic is constant, the air often fractured by the sound of sirens, of helicopters.
Not silent, not peaceful, despite that my little garden is a haven.
Starlight is insipid and I search for the rich velvet darkness of the coast with its glitter of stardust.
I long to walk on grass, on sand, in the ocean. I long to walk where the terrier has never picked up a tick in nearly 12 years.
I want to walk to the garden to pick food for our meals.
Instead, I walk into the grocer’s and buy goods with miles in their provenance. It all looks fresh, beautiful even, but then in my coast garden it’s two minutes from soil to kitchen via the garden tap. And on the breeze, I can smell the sea.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance. Leisure by WH Davies
Finding that my ear is still cancer-free. Twelve months on from that most painful surgery, I’ll now admit it was worth it.
Paddling through cold water – soaks up the swelling from the bruised sesamoid and strained tendon.
Baking espresso brownies – an online recipe that is not perfect. I’ll use my own brownie recipe next time and add the coffee. That one will work.
Ballet. There’s something about the studio, about the atmosphere, the music, the movements …the friends… that makes the perfect day. Even with a tender left foot. This after a three-week ballet school break, so that the sound of joints and tendons stretching is like some strange percussion orchestra.
We listened to this…
…for which we will be learning choreography.
Coffee with friends – both ballet and coastal.
Time with my grandson. That simple innocence – the uncarved block. Reminding one that until the world takes hold, life can be filled with such imagination and joy.
Walking my gardens – this year’s plans take shape, filling a tiny corner of my mind.
So does embroidery. A week ago, I felt anxious that nothing inspired me and that my hands would be uncomfortably idle in the evenings. It’s not something that sits well with me. I prefer displacement therapy.
(From the late Brenda Kinsel, fashion stylist - a bag she found in a secondhand shop)
(@what_florence_did_next What is a Coronation without a commemoration?)
(A combination of beautiful Margaret Light designs…)
And now I have three projects – things that resound with colour – some subtle, some celebratory and some bright, some on linen, canvas, or cotton. It will keep me going until the end of the year. Maybe…
And writing. My manuscript idles when I’m in the city. It passes through my head like some vacuous thought. It desperately needs to be recorded.
Serendipity really – this feeling of needing the outer spaces.
I find I want to read more books like Raynor Winn’s The Salt Path. By the side of my bed, I have Robert Macfarlane’s Landmarks, Benjamin Myers’ The Offing and Henry Beston’s The Outermost House.
I want more of Winn, definitely more of Macfarlane – an escape.
And this week, a list came to my attention, almost like a compass, pointing me to all that nature can offer as a refuge, healing place, living space.
How to Read a Tree by Tristan Gool, a book that enables one to observe the signs that reveal a tree's secrets as well as those of the landscape in which we stand.
Sea Bean by Sally Huband, a discovery journey of sea and self, trial and hope on the Shetland Isles. Being coast, being the Shetlands, it will sing.
Simon Barnes wrote Rewilding Yourself and now The Year of Sitting Dangerously, where the reader is encouraged to see life through the lens of a small back garden. Big, small – perhaps it doesn’t matter. It’s being out amongst it that matters…
Sam Neill and I ended our relationship on such a perfect note. He had a good report from his oncologist, and I thought what a nice, wicked man he is and what a satisfactory audiobook it was.
The Diplomat. West Wing-esque. So excellent! Series Two is surely a given.
Rough Diamonds. A Chassidic Jewish family of Belgian diamond merchants. Possibly a thriller. May be worth sitting with it. It’s dubbed with heavy American voices and that dulls down a performance, I think. I’d prefer original soundtrack and subtitles for atmosphere.
Lego Grandmasters. I have nothing but awe and respect for these creative geniuses.
And so I go to the bedroom, fill a bag with the usuals, grab my computer case. In the kitchen, the extra food is packed. The terrier champs at the bit, barking with much excitement, racing to the garage door and back again. (No sign of tick-illness yet.)
He knows that in a couple of hours we’ll be in the big garden or walking the beaches. That the sun will stripe the floorboards and he can lounge on the window seat watching the birds.
And so my shoulders lighten as I walk to the car…
Nature can be so gentle and empathic, so calming (when the ticks aren’t around) and somehow, this musician, Cary Lewincamp, always encapsulates the harmony. One’s limbs turn to honey and one can sit… just sit… and drift.
We arrived on the coast.
The dog cantered happily around the garden, setting up the bush ravens who persist in trying to eat our netted fruit. My pumpkins have ripened and the spring bulbs are already pushing strappy leaves above soil that hasn’t even seen winter yet.
The crashing waves shake the windows, the rattle letting me know that time and tide wait for no man, and as we pile pears and apples onto the kitchen benches to peel for chutney, I’m content.
Such a lovely post and so glad to hear your ear surgery was successful in all ways. Hopefully, the good health reports extend to your furbaby. Time spent outdoors in nature is always healing and I need to do more of it. Thanks for the encouragement!
Lovely first read of the morning. Thank you. Do you have Lymes disease where you are? Hope your fur baby is fine. 🙏 Enjoy the beach.