Monday, 31 March 2014

Abundant Dirt

Seeds are poked into fine loam. Seedlings shifted from their tiny pot confinements to larger earth. Blue pen squiggles on the plastic markers. Little Granddaughter views the sunflower progress, satisfied.
'Are they growing?' Nam-ma asks.
She looks again. 'Yes, they are. Yes, they have.' The tone: toddler-imperious.
Nam-ma grins. They are and they have. She likes that the present tense precedes the past. She likes the emergent confidence. 'Good,' she says.
Two coats are heaped on a workbench. Broad bean leaves are a midgreen, rounded: the peas paler and sneaking up in curls. Sunflower leaves pair like cupped open hands.

Tea Break

Sunday, 30 March 2014

My Black Moon

Before the night, there is a clear sky, and the sun has a satisfied sort of glow. It warms a brisk wind so on the beach it matters not that trousers are dragged through deep pools. Dogs and children run in circles of exuberance. We speak of curves in waves and rock formations and stroke fingers over the smooth levels that the storms have stripped. Gulls call, the air is thick with salt. One lost boot is wedged in seaweed. In the rocks are many things mysterious; the tide comes, jealously, to take them back.
Lying on hot granite, we eat ice cream, watch the seabirds fly. Dog buries and exhumes pebbles. Secretly we are laughing at a man adjacent who talks loudly of his lifestyle. In the car a spontaneous parody causes much amusement. Ah, poor man, you did nothing to hurt us. You were a comedic gift. We just knew by your desire to impress how fine and centred we are in our world.
Still, once home and sat, in dry clothes, sipping soup, while Dog chews the ham bone retrieved from the stockpot, there is a pen and a notepad waiting for a New Moon list. Our world is due some evolution. The intention is to ask for it, to see what changes we can effect.
My Black Moon, the ink scrawls out: and stops.
Laugh at my self, caught staring at the living room clutter; laugh at how much this ramshackle stuff defines it. Any less my self with more abundance: with less disorder? And what is it that we lack, anyway? I know things to write on this list; a sloped field, a self built house, a natural pool, an old ambulance converted to a camper van; but they are all of no importance. The escapade is the core spark of it.
My Black Moon, may our quest persist. May we never languish. May we ever acknowledge and let go: may those dreams kept unseen crack their husks: grow.

Saturday, 29 March 2014


Edging to the far end of Spring's first month.
The clock hands will slip forward tonight. Time melts.
Winter's ghost sings in the night wind. Another new moon is nearly begun.
When two new moons fall in one month, the second is called a black moon. It makes a cauldron of the sky, fills it with unknown things, with a power to catalyst.
We can write phenomenal lists.
We can think of all that we wish; entireties of other lives; swimming, dreaming, in unbounded dark.
Morning comes as a brink.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Rain-Damp, On The 510 Bus

There's a particular type of cold to be found at bus stops: whether rain damped or wind chilled or bit with ice. It fosters a particular type of appreciation for the thick piled fabric of the bus seat cover. The fabric pattern is avant-garde, brightly coloured.
The bus doors are open. Onions are frying, over at the Gong Fu Kitchen. The driver waits for an elderly couple to recover suitcases from a taxi. He steps out to lift the cases in, while they worry that the taxi driver has left without a tip: I meant to give him something, the lady sighs. They look for their bus passes, synchronised. I never would have thought of the bus, the lady sighs, but eight quid it saves. She shows her pass. Her husband nods and holds out her cardigan sleeves so she can slip her arms in and warm up. The driver asks them which stop; there are two in their village. The second one, they say. He is a foreigner, the lady notes as they sit down, for no discernible reason.
At the rear of the bus a man speaks, softly, to himself. The bus rumbles, loud. Rain rolls horizontal over wide windows. The lady unfolds a plastic rain hood to tie over her hair. She will go home and brew a pot of tea: they will have a tea cozy to keep their brew hot. They thank the driver, waddle the cases off: I will need my mac, she says, and thank you so much. The bus doors close.
I like this bus. It goes just fast enough to fright me. Everyone smiles and there's no sense of dystopia: just the usual messy sort of life made of things that went right, or didn't.

Approaching the A-Z, Uncertainly

Fabulous mug found via Pinterest:

In April a chunk of the blog-populace play a game called the A-Z Challenge. Everyday but not Sundays we write posts that follow the alphabet: a 26 day commitment. Some prepare in advance and I am in the other group. All groups do their best to visit and engage with as many other bloggers as is feasible. This year although I cannot commit to a topic- it's just not how I like to work- I have decided that my game rules are to open a dictionary to the relevant letter, close my eyes and point. Those words will be the title and starting point for each of the alphabet days. That should be just enough structure to keep the task in hand and not let it smother me. The right kind of uncertainty.
Although, what happens if I pick a naughty word?
(Laughs first, thinks second.)
(Thinks again as though checking a sum.)
I shall daintily misspell it, not because I fear to offend but because I prefer not to offend by accident. I should rather cause deliberate exasperation and I should rather that my doing so had the weight of being rarely invoked. Please be assured that my personal lexicon is amply stocked with profundity; as a child I lived a while adjacent to Falmouth Docks. There's not much shock you can offer my ears. I don't shy from appropriate usage in other writing, as (apprehensive, eager, paroxysmal) many of you will find out when The Novel is finished.

Words from JK Rowling, image found on

Thursday, 27 March 2014

A Sky Painted Flat

Today's path is not complicated. It follows flowering lanes, between the bell hyacinths and the bluebell leaves. It pilots under a sky painted flat, with cameo ware cloud. It loops the cool grass in the field where the wind blows over badger bones, where vivid slime grows in the stream overflow and daisies tinge pink at the petal tips. Buzzards wing thermals and the cattle are sat, chewing. Dog runs, dip dyed in mud.
And the evening is straightforward too, is routine. A drive across Plymouth as the daylight fades and neon softly flickers. Small groups of people stop to communicate. One here holds a pint glass, another, a bag from the takeaway counter. The air has a tarmac earthiness: tangs of tyre rubber and buttery garlic.

~110,625 words make up The Novel so far. Working on Chapter Nine out of ten. End in sight! But I fell asleep over my laptop this week. Much energy expended. It makes one jittery. It has resulted in a thick cough and a thin delirium. The end is sighted and will be reached. Only I might need a medic. Will settle for a brandy. Indebted to the unruffled sky.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Black Belt Trials: Round One

Not quite a full set here, but a good photo moment with a dry sky!

Ate a falafel sandwich under a Church Road bus shelter, watching hail bounce. Between hail showers we sat outside; the sun blazed but sometimes it rained too. It was exhausting: taking off a coat, a scarf, a jacket, rolling up the wool trousers, the shirt sleeves, and swiftly reassembling it all, shivering, and repeat, repeat, repeat. A small cough flourished.
It was a Bristol pre-grading day. Twelve of our students were there to be studied, amongst the nervous batch of 100 or so. The question was not pass or fail, though that's how they felt. The question was, are they ready? If they could do better, then try again would not (it should not) be a negative. We should remember all that disappointment can bring: the priceless grit of perseverance, how it lines the path to a destination of deeper import: but it still hurts to hear it. Sometimes philosophy must be augmented with a hug.
While we all waited, under an indecisive sky, I thought to do some writing and then my pen was out of ink. But I had the constant costume change to occupy me, and ample snacks of conversation.
The day unfolded well for our twelve. Most of them had barely struck homewards when we phoned with results: and they all got the answer they had hoped for. They will be back in April. They are delighted. And scared: it's real now, it is undeniably real! But all together; pass, fail, retake, panic; these trials, if we face them, they make us better. That's the point of it, for me.
The crazy paved weather calmed to a dry brisk wind. Mr drove us home. We had misplaced the spare flask, so in the early morning rush had put a batch of espresso into an empty wine bottle. It had a resilient celebratory feel to it and a faint aftertaste of red fruit.

Saturday, 22 March 2014


The front tyres at the outer edge show a zigzag of tread, as one would expect, but when the wheel is turned to park, no pattern at all is visible at the inner edge. To the tyre fitters the old car goes; the driver alarmed and repentant. She drives straight in, the way being unimpeded, into the tall rectangle of the workshop, leaves the key in the ignition. She opens the door marked Reception. 
Out of the wind it is warm. In this building within a building a large window attempts to bring in natural light but the plant has withered despite this and the careful bit of string support tied through a ceiling tile strut, and the tennis ball sized glitter ball hanging from a cable tie on the bamboo stick. The leaves were heart shaped, once.
A man with a face that has known weather sits at the desk. He asks after tyre sizes, and they'll check the tracking for free. Would she want it fixed, if the tracking is out? Yes, she says, emphatic. It's not usual for tyres to wear like that: it might be the pot holes, the storms have wrecked the roads this winter; the tracking needs checking, doubtless. They go out to where the car sits. The man rolls over two new tyres, cheap but well made he says, he uses them himself. Everyone's on a budget these days he says. The wind cuts in. She shivers, says she'll walk to the shop while the job is done. Behind her car a cluster of trucks has pulled up. The man makes a face: it's busy suddenly.
The wind is cold but it blows intermittently. There's a verge by the road where young trees sport young leaves and dance in the sun. The shadows flow over grass and wide pavement tarmac. She walks past petrol pumps where cars are queuing, where a man in a transit is rolling his eyes. One hawkish gentlemen in a sports car is hovering for the next pump without narrowing his choice: he blocks the way of the drivers who will tuck into a line so everyone will fit. Traffic spills back from here down to the main road. A baby cries and a radio is switched on. The sports car moves to a pump and eight cars can pull in to make separate queues.
In the shop heated air wafts. Smells of bread and coffee make her think of breakfast. She picks a banana from a display. All the bananas are lying like little yellow hills. They are usually the other way up. Perhaps the assistant was bored. This is a small but creative rebellion. She looks back at the display from the end of the aisle. The bananas have a sense of movement, that way up, she sees: they look like a shoal of leaping yellow fish.
She pays for her solo banana and her apple juice carton at an actual check out, not at the self serve machines. The check out lady is wide and jolly and her eyes twinkle.
Outside she walks quickly, the wind blows straight through her jumper. She takes her fruit breakfast to the tyre hall reception area. She likes the floor tiles and how wheel hubs and rims are displayed on the wall like tribal shields. All done, the man says, yes the tracking was the problem. It's fixed now, these tyres will last longer. Sorry for the wait he says, it got busy. It's not a problem, she tells him, and offers up a card to pay.
The new tyres are dark and capable. She likes them. It's like your car having new shoes, she thinks. Driving will feel comfortable, perhaps even stylish. Thank you, she says. Inside her car is sun heated and the wind is reduced to a light draft. A beautiful day, she notes, and drives home.

Based on a true life story! I'm not sure why I turned a panic visit to the tyre shop into fiction. Perhaps the embarrassment of how badly the front tyres had worn... Tracking was off by an impressive 6%... The new tyres are not pictured above: that is a picture of my shadow being exasperated by the car door locks freezing shut. I look forward to being able to miss the days of eccentric cars, just as I am currently nostalgic for fending off frost bite at a bus stop, laden with thin stretched shopping bags and a child who needs to poo. The rush of gratitude on reaching a destination!!

Friday, 21 March 2014

Spring Equilibrium

This year, if I think of it as alive, has a yearning for adventure: more specifically, a quest: a pulsing and a push. Not this shared calendar year: this, my year. One can own time: one's own time. Who else would have it? Who else does have it?
My utopia is a work of art: is a collaborative work of art.
Living is a creative process. An ongoing, interactive, lit up process.
Life has such vitality, firsthand and through memory: and memory need not be something that is carved out, but can be a plastic art, informed by one's own experience: is like a torch passed on, it lights one's own view, yet burns a previous fuel.

All this is thought, walking steep up the grassed hill; the wind blows cold, the clouds, rowdy, travel in packs. All this, thought, whilst stuck in the hedge, caught by a wire barb. Two cuts neat on a boot toe: one triangular hole in the back of a coat. Happy with a wet toe, sliding down to the river banks where the anemones chuckle. It rains, it falls in pellets. The rainbow is worth every strike. One full arc flanked by banded pillars, straddling the valley. Impossible, though the raindrops sneak cold to skin, to be anywhere but in this centred balance. 

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Crock Pot Soup

Surprised by a squeeze from the transverse abdominis whilst dropping onionskins in a pot for stock. Could be a result of rapid furniture moving or clambering loose-footed paths on steep slopes; with a couple of prized deer bones gripped in hand; or wandering waist deep in the slippery cold river, favoured bones slung makeshift in a scarf. But despite the upper abdominal flinching, thoughts are focused on soup.
Soup is made of items found.
It is made when we are not sure what else to do for nourishment.
It is best made slow.
It is best made with time to scent the earth inside each mushroom as the knife slides through: to let an onion sting, to smile at the orange flesh of a drab skinned sweet potato: to feel each density, hear the thock of knife edge contacting the chopping board: to see the irregular, the pleasing collection, chopped and mixed in the old iron crock, glossy with melted ghee: to feel the anticipation as it is set upon the Rayburn hob with stock water and sprigs of garden herb.
The crock was found, as most things are here: close to hand, just when we needed it.

(The deer bones, it should be noted, were not for stock: they are set aside for making knife handles.)

Post river walking:
how lovely and warm socks are :-)

Monday, 17 March 2014

Nearly Home

Settled in the Iron Age, in modern times known mainly for its sauce: Worcester, that's where we began our return journey. The journey up encompassed a visit to our youngest granddaughter, who is breaking out teeth and standing up, ready to morph through toddlerhood. In spite of teeth she smiles and cuddles: brave and cute. The journey up was obstacled only by inner Bristol road works. We paused overnight there, guests of my brother and sister in law, treated to fine Taiwanese dining.

I slept like a hog, too accurately, Mr says: snoring, he says. Oh karma, says I. I pour him coffee. Set up the navigation device. Feed him honeyed sesame and the roads are clear and the sky bright. Venue parking is all used up: the next spot is a pleasant canal side walking distance during which we learn that Worcester also homes the world's oldest surviving newspaper. Berrow's Journal, should you wish to look it up. The parking has cost two pounds sterling for the whole of the day. The car is left shaded by a thinly branched tree.
The venue is shiny new. Thick carpet is taped to the floor, to protect it from the tape used to mark out areas for this competition, which is the TAGB English Championships 2014, should you wish to look it up. It is a popular competition and the first venture for us at this new hall and it gets hot rather quickly with all the people and all the carpet and the air conditioning packs up and the site manager goes home to have a lie down especially after the café is eaten out of stock by mid morning. There is only room for 16 rings so it takes longer to get through the categories. I have some weepy faces to comfort and cajole, a smallish clutch of anxious parents, two red sticky noses, one facial graze: not much Welfaring required, which is a good thing. Our chief referee is the best kind: swiftly decisive, gives clear feedback to the less experienced officials: has a humorously bossy ebullience except when reprimanding cadet fighters for unsporting contact. There being plenty to watch and learn, I am not bored. I would like a walk, and when we leave the sun is still out and the canal glitters and it is a shame the car park is so close. I even think of a swim. But home: home is three hours away and I am tired and home is what I choose. Three hours seems like a long enough time for that journey.
We are giving a lift to a student, to Okehampton; he gives some money towards fuel costs and falls sleep which suits us, being also drowsy and content to watch the sky deepen from pink to inky indigo. We wake him before we drop him home. We drive off, to rejoin the A30, so nearly home. The cars spluts along the slip road and stops. It is disinclined to restart. Rain starts to fall, so fine it floats in the air and in the passing headlamps looks like powdery snow. We wait for the repair truck.
The garage chap is cheery in his high-vis yellow coat. Early diagnostics suggest an expensive repair. He recommends; if a spare part must be bought, we should go to Diesel Bob. He writes down the number for us. But there's no roadside repair for it. We wait for the recovery truck.
The driver is jovial with his Willie Nelson playing loud: he never wanted to retire he says. Or listen to anything but Country and Western. I say I like Johnny Cash. 'Oh I've got plenty of his stuff,' he says, and at ninety miles to the hour we can only hope he means the music not the pills and booze. It's been five hours since we left. Maybe now we are nearly home.
At the garage the entrance is impeded by two counts of casual parking. Our driver's forty years of experience are put to the test. It doesn't take him long to figure it out, our sick car is soon clanking down the ramp. Ah, but he can't drop us home. It's a mile too far, a mile over policy. Well, we have cash: the fuel money from our student. We will wheel our cases to the town and get a taxi. Decadent talk! But we wish to be home, we are so, so tired.
A half mile down hill we discover that no taxis are running. No taxi number is answered. It is just before midnight on a Sunday. Every car owner is drunk or asleep. Okay. Some reassessment is required. If we are tired and cramped from sitting in a cold car, a walk wouldn't be so bad. The clouds are huddled over the moors; here is dry with a full-faced moon. We have sensible footwear. And we are nearly home. Every step is nearer. So we walk, it's only three miles. My suitcase rattles over potholes, tacks around the road apples. Tree shapes are at their most magical, under the moon, at midnight.

Boy has left the houselights gleaming. Dog is delighted to make a re-acquaintance. There's just enough energy left in us to slug a large glass of sloe wine for supper. Not quite Shackleton, we agree, not the worst of circumstances: some transport issues and the usual how to afford this. Things that could stack up and tip and squish us if we allowed it: or we could say, that was an adventure, albeit of modest scale.
It occurs to me that this is All Adventure. We have been Nearly Home for years and years.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Lively Bones

Mist covers the morning, greyed, as though the road dirt has tainted it. No sun burns through. Cold holds the day. Snow could fall. The field where the old barn sits, beams cracked; calm in the process of demise; is unpopulated. The walk leads off road, over the stile and finds a line of spine and rib, a skull, the bones of two back legs. What was badger lies on grass, posed like a medical illustration, too unusual to be repulsive. Shinbones poke down into feet, a dancing skeleton in boots. Because of this: the curiousness, the nonchalance, it seems composed to this fate, even celebratory; it retains a certain vitality.
I lived a badger's life, it says, and died a badger's death. And that is how wise badgers judge success.
Dog sniffs, seems to agree, trots along the hedge, down the broad curving grass, over the opposite stile. Mud, ankle deep, heaps on rubber booted feet. They wash clean in the brook. A swirl of wet earth flows over flat stones, under the reflected sky. Footprints press the soft surface of the last unturned field, back out to the small road.
Wood smoke puffs from the kitchen, smells of charcoal and shelter. Daffodils; the scrunched and ruffled kind; cluster on a windowsill. 

Thursday, 13 March 2014


Woke inadvertently having slipped into a parallel realm.
It has no sense of humour. It is clumsy and it frowns too quick, although the day begins in bold white fractals of mist. Nothing in this time is less beautiful, yet the empathy for it is absent. Whether the change is irreversible is unknown. As a cure, time is spent outside, where the mist merges into blue sky, shiny untrammelled sun.
In the sleepy heat some semblance of normality shimmers: and the rich tang of earth turned with dung in the surrounding fields is not unfamiliar. It is the right Earth, of course, it is the person who is wrong. It is the usual kind of wrong, of course: simply overtired. Deceptively simple and infiltrative. Easier to put one's self in another dimension than admit that the idiocy has struck again. Or to say, the creative output is worth it, or even that it is tied into this delirium: but life is the most authentic creative experience: but then this is part of the experience: a strength being also a weakness.
After the house is swept and the fire stocked, the evening is absolved of further work. Tomorrow's mist settles over the river, the dog curls asleep on the sofa. There's soup in a plain bowl, chilli spiced; bread and butter on a gold side plate.

Moves mountains of dung, flattens them out to fertile fields.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

A Secret Blog

A similar ping of intuition to the one that gave life to this cure-all blog: I recognise it. It must be followed. It makes not so much sense at first: to start a private blog that only I read. I have notebooks and a pen, I have always had notebooks.
What is wrong with my notebooks?
Apart from the lack of organisation?
Yet somehow it does feel… sensible? So yesterday, unbeknownst, a secret blog was duly initiated. Not so clandestine that I can't speak of it. It's more that I can't explain it. I'm building it as a small child constructs, artful and subconscious.
Meanwhile Dog is arching gracefully on the sofa. She appears adorable and wafts an eggy cloud. My Buddha-self says this is a lesson that one must not be too caught up in appearance for the substance may be rotten. My nose suggests a new lid for the Dog-raided compost bin. There is no discrepancy in following the spiritual and the practical advice.
There is washing on the line in the dark waiting for tomorrow's sun.
And words unfolding in secret cyber spaces. Chattery fledgling words.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Happy Birthday Mr

Much as the skeletal shed haunts us, it is a weekend for treats.
So on Saturday we take in a self defence workshop, which might not be everyone's idea of leisure but Mr learnt a new application for W-block and my wrist restraint release moves have perked up measurably.

Saturday evening Little Granddaughter comes over, over tired, unimpressed. Spongebob calms her. She sleeps for twelve hours.

Sunday morning she wakes in a helpful mood. We cook Grandad some breakfast. Teddy must help too. Also one has to stop to play the recorder. And catch some clouds in a jar. And find the missing duckling. And explain why it isn't time for a bath yet. And help Teddy learn to play the recorder. Teddy looks after the ducks but all the clouds escape. Teddy is not a good at multitasking. Nam-ma makes a LARGE COFFEE and plates up. Slow cooked breakfast is the best kind, after all.
Sunday afternoon a planned trip to Minions, with Girl and Miss Kirsty and Dog added to the entourage, diverts to Golitha Falls. Miss K brings an epic picnic and we eat it at the granite table bathed in sun warmth.
We walk our stuffed tummies through the trees and boulders and Dog swims in mud and Little Granddaughter falls in mud. It does not deter her Gruffalo hunt. One by one she tracks each character to its house.
The finale is a river paddle. Dog is washed: goes around in the flow not unlike a furry jumper in a washing machine. We show Miss K the tree with the Goblin's face. Little Granddaughter removes her wet trousers to ride on Nam-ma's shoulders.
Everyone returns to the car with an outdoor glow. At home blackberry wine is chilling. And Little Granddaughter sings such songs of broccoli, my broccoli, not carrots, not peas, it's my broccoli…
Happy birthday Mr: which at the start of the day was a wish and at the end is a stated fact.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

The Universe In Coffee

Mindfulness is seeing: this circle of dark coffee held in a mug. It is thinking of the journey the coffee has taken: from the plantation slopes, growing; harvested, roasted, packaged, shipped, purchased; all those transactions bring it here, to this encircling mug, steaming hot like the slopes of its origin.
Mindfulness is feeling: chilled tiles under bare feet, faint heat of sleepy eyes, morning air fresh against skin, the comfort of thick socks, hands holding a mug drawing in warmth.
Mindfulness is hearing: next door, the Rayburn rattles, riddled to unburden ash; outside the wind sings, the birds respond, loose ivy taps glass; in this room a dog sighs and the arm of the waving cat tocks like a grandfather clock.
Mindfulness is smelling: coffee, moss on the dampish logs stacked to dry, pungent old onion in the compost tin, clean sap in the split kindling, charcoal in the smoulders of last nights fire, fine dust of ash; hints of dog and soap and leather boots.
Mindfulness is tasting: this blend, velvet smooth, bold, holds tones of vanilla, raw sugar, cocoa, hardly bitter, even in the after taste. Recalls other flavours by association: the coriander leaf torn up over a noodle dish eaten on a hot street, savoury and lightly spiced.
Mindfulness is knowing: each sensation belongs to this particular life; it should be appreciated as one can marvel brushstrokes; and each particular life is a dot in an overwhelming swell and yet with attention to, with appreciation of, these sensations: one dot cannot be lost, it is a vibrant part of the whole picture.

Friday, 7 March 2014

The Carpe Diem Dance

Only this morning I knew exactly what to write: held it just as clearly as if it had been written down. Somewhere in the day it has slipped from memory, is lying somewhere metaphysical, ink blurring in soft rain.
'Dance Nam-ma! It's a man-an-a-tar!' Little Granddaughter demands as we walk past the busker at the low end of Plymouth. After this exertion we eat pasties and two buses collide on Royal Parade. The accident had been there all along, a man says; it was waiting to happen. Nam-ma extrapolates that therefore it is a happy accident, being fulfilled: but one should not wait to happen, as a rule.

Thursday, 6 March 2014


Nothing seemed wrong, not entirely. Small clues, like the way the cereal pack was inside the fridge and the milk on the shelf. The sky was draped in rainy fuzz, it came all the way down to the ground. It wasn't cold as winter, but it wasn't warm. Daffodils were opening up. They shivered in the wind. I was writing in the past tense, I noticed: it had been an unconscious choice. A sense of grief pervaded.
A sorrow that could pour out and down and seep into unfrozen ground; touch the waking seed, the feathery splay of root; and up will grow such fabulous blooms, such tender shoots: raw at first then weathered in and growing, always growing into something that spreads out like branches; gives out limbs to climb and dangle heels from and think of childhoods; a shade for quiet thought; blossoms for the beauty of fun; fruits that ripen, nourishing, fermentable, bringing cheer.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Chasin' Fox

Out of the culvert a red-brown body streaks, a four legs bushy tail body. Distance makes it vole sized. Hunched angle of head makes it angry. One hundred yards behind a white-brown body bounds, a four legs tail wagging body. Enthusiasm has rendered this one conveniently deaf. After some joyous time it returns, tongue akimbo. As suspected, it is Dog: glorious Dog, her mud all glossy and giving a slight steam to the cold midday air. She has lost her tennis ball and still looks to me to throw it. She is not a creature of detail in any sense but the olfactory. We head homewards.

Half a dozen items dangle from the washing line, blowing lazy.
'Where d'you go?' Mr asks from his skeletal shed-in-progress.
'Chasin' Fox,' I tell: I tell the diminutive narrative of our field hike: how the tennis ball is dropped unheeded in the undergrowth and the fox is cross.

In the kitchen a jug of pancake mix is ready for cooking up. Four fresh daffodils poke from a makeshift pot. An extension wire leads over the door, out through the bathroom window, ends in a circular saw at the shed site. A hosed down Dog slops in her basket, ready to dream, to rerun the fox chase.

Monday, 3 March 2014


The sky, hung grey, is handsome.
Across the hills are cloud stacks, lined up as if for a chess game.
A spill of indigo beneath these silvered pieces.
Between the flat slate and the snow-capped cerulean, a wide curtain of colour drops, as the rain drops, as the spectrum splits.
Trees peer at their pooled reflections, see how buds swell from wet bark.
Hedgerows are polkaed in primrose.
Water rises to greet each footprint.

Sunday, 2 March 2014


I had set myself a story challenge, for one must have trials in order to grow. We need it like the spring flowers need to feel the earth unfreeze. He or she: you will need it (whomsoever and wheresoever in space and time you may be. You may even be plural, it still applies. Maybe that's enough pronouns and tenses for now though…) And like a growth spurt, out and up the stories pop! A rude clown, a tempted magpie, a lucky explorer, an unfortunate robot and advice for children in a zombie apocalypse; a bad stomach, a dragon-eye gem, tropical monsters, regrettable sausages, some new shoes, camouflage and suitable retaliation.
Happy sigh!

Yesterday Dog and I strolled a field, new to us: steep and possessed of a wide view. Over the corner curve we found deer bones, sun bleached, porous as coral: a line of trees with tentacle roots, storm twisted branches. Familiar with the elements, ne'ertheless, it is a new world. Through a hedge gap squeezes four legs, two legs: run the wooded path, all a goggle: no need of words, only see, only goggle.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Cephalopod Coffeehouse Review (actually)

The Snow Child is inspired by the Russian fairy tale The Little Daughter of the Snow. I am partial to a renewal of an old tale, it's a reminder that the important themes of humanity don't change so much. It is set in 1920s Alaska, and the landscape forms a good part of the story. Jack and Mabel are looking for a new life, looking to escape the grief of losing a baby. They find solid happy company in their neighbours. They find a child who lives feral in the wilderness. The rest I won't spoil for you, even if you can guess the story.

This is a book that encompasses the visceral truth of nature but doesn't dwell in the negative. Neither does it enforce a positivist view. It flows and describes:

'She had no way to know its age or gender, but there was something in the light-colored chin and long, coarse whiskers that reminded her of an old man's beard. From a distance the otter gave a comical, mischievous impression, but when it slithered close Mabel could smell fish blood and a wet chill…Living twisting muscle beneath bristly damp fur. Breaking through thin ice, splashing in cold creek water, sliding belly down across snow. Joyful, though it should have known better.'

Perfect read for a snow holiday, or for cool relief in a hot summer, or anytime for people who like fairy tales and stories that out to charm not shock.