Showing posts from December, 2014


2014, a midwinter’s morning.
Winter courts spring with a bridal gown.
Laid on earth’s bare skin, the perfection of each crystalline stitch, divine.
It is melting, under shallow pools of sun.
A gem would not melt in this meagre heat: but we are temporary, we should understand.
A diamond is a thing of beauty, yet the pursuit of it, too costly. Laden with servitude, it shines sadly.
In the embroidered earth a moment holds, a proposal, a sign of hope sturdier than the materials that spark it.

A memory: a memory arrives -

1977, an early summer’s afternoon.
There was then a smaller version of me; I can observe her, as though she exists, independent of her adult self.
She had brought her necklace to school, a trinket from her Grandma, it dangled a bright jewel, like something from the Raj. She liked to wear it on her head, in the style of a warrior princess. Light fell and caught the dust as she led the class to the cloakroom and all the parents said how sweet she was.
Pantaloons to them! Her…

The '77 Port Moment

‘This is for our Christmas Day.’ The Chap rolls a bottle of port before our boggled eyes.
1977, vintage.
The price tag says what?
‘It’s my new tradition.’ He says, perhaps because he’s eighteen years old. Time will let us know.

Christmas Day gathers just the three of us this year.
The port is opened; the old cork crumbles, we utilise a tea strainer, two decanters, hide them in the pantry, next to the oats.
Breakfast is a slab of hot brioche with extra butter.
Clear dry cold sky, a platinum light: we wrestle old bicycles into it, dust them, plump up tyres. Dog runs and somehow avoids an accident. We stop at the house of Grandchild 2, swap gifts, legs gently steaming.
Dog commando-crawl sneaks onto the front room carpet from the kitchen tiles. Everyone smirks.
Wrapping paper makes a comforting debris.

We take the long road back, because of the sky, because of fun.
‘Our mission today,’ I shout, with vibrato over potholes, ‘is not to get too trolled before we start the port!’

So …

Hello Girls And Boys!

Firstly, a quick reorganisation of the grandchildren. They number only four thus far (‘only’ as in ‘not an unmanageable number,’ not only as in, ‘ that it?’) so it may seem-

random interruption- forthy- is that a word anyone else knows?- ‘forthy’ means here ‘to be precocious’-
short form of ‘forwards’ -

-forthy to be having this tidy up.

It is easy when surrounded by these outpourings of future grown ups, to be thinking forwards, it is the time of year for clear-ups. So henceforth shall Little Grandson be Grandchild 1, Little Granddaughter be Grandchild 2 : and so on.They are ordered by age not popularity.

We do like to organise them.
Not to classify but to direct.
Take this Christmas lark, for example.

Nothing is begrudged , yet just as a surfeit of food can cause bloating, a surfeit of stuff can clog the soul.
What gift can be brought without fear of clog, without loss of fun?
Memories. We aim to give a whole set.
Memories are made from formative experiences.
This …

Christmas Story 2014

This year's Yuletide story offering is a little early- I was planning a Solstice post for Sunday. Last Winter Solstice I got lost on Dartmoor just as it was falling dark... but this year the grandchildren are taking me to watch a pantomime. It will be safer but easily as busy, so I'm posting now instead. Happy Holidays to all!
How The Snowdrops Bloomed

Ice crusted over every surface, like the world was an ice pie.
A fire in the wide hearth had been lit for days, slowly warming the stone walls of the cottage. Sat close, two people unlaced their damp boots and wiggled their toes at the flames.
They formed a small family.
A child, a girl of six.
A widower, her father.

Their cottage edged woodland; from this wood they fed their fire and their bellies.
Over the fire was an iron pot; in this they cooked good winter soup.
Next to the fire was a jug.

The widower, now and then, found work at a farm. As payment, the farmer and his family sent over a jug of milk once a week, and a pat of b…

Where The Weekend Went

Friday night, a jug of rum.
We creep to our garden and spy on the frost.
It feels like dreams can find you better, if you go out into the dark.

Saturday morning, sat on the porch step, numbing buttocks, drinking coffee. Morning sun makes steam plumes along grassed edges. Sky wakes up all tumbled, bits of cloud, blue, mist, squints of sun.
Mr sleeps in, wrapped in dream and quilt.
When he wakes up, just as tumbled as the sky, he calls to come and see: a robin has snuck into our kitchen, to spy on us.
So tiny, that bird, we see: the world so big and wintry. With boldness he thrives. We admire.

It stays warm, the sun, we sit out, drink more coffee.
And one more coffee.

Saturday afternoon, all of a sudden. We forgot about time.
In the carpark, stuck in a queue, making alternative plans: a space, all of a sudden. Free parking, the sign says. This is encouraging.
In the town hall doting families gather. Children can be heard through the closed doors, practising thei…

Queen Mab

This is not the work of winter alone: Queen Mab has been loose in the night.
The horses’ manes will be atrocious!
Slender branches strew the lanes: the old ash tree must be suspected of complicity, for it has lost but twigs.
One unbroken piece of moon is left wedged in morning sky; behind dull cloud stripes of blue and pink fuzz like flannelette.
Is she sleeping now?
Our ribs hold anxious beats.
Of what does she dream?
The more we stare at the sky, the more the cirrostratus thickens.
In the thin fall of rain a whisper: of what do you dream? 

Winter The Eccentric

Winter, for all her stark chic, is a secret hoarder. 
She has a thing for extremities.
We ward her away with gloves, warming socks, impervious boots, snug hats.
She is horribly curious and will crawl inside your chest to look around, sliding cold through your damp lungs.
It is best to keep skin under thermal surveillance.

She makes water-glass, for looking in, in spite of the fish gaping below; yet for all her thievery, her stealth of trespass, her vanity, she marvels us.
She is her own kind of beautiful, as is all true beauty.

Without her, the grate has no fire, the hats and gloves are dropped, unappreciated.

Spring’s bulbs push slow roots through her iced ground. Perhaps she nips at fingertips to feed them. Winter, like a mother bird, raising her cuckoo.

Pity is superfluous.
She is made of universal stuff: present in all seasons.

The Plan Revealed

It is our belief that a crazy plan will do more good than harm. This is why we are often to be found drawing plans for hillbilly hot tubs and underground gardens. Heat regulation is the main staller with the former, the latter is preparation for when we own land. And this is beginner level crazy (intermediate elsewhere, perhaps, but we live in rural Cornwall) not far from simply dreaming. One giant shed, one polytunnel, one almost finished bath-pond testify that we can make ideas tangible. Based on this, and other little things, like compassion, like stories shared, we have been forming a bigger plan.
Here’s the rough outline:
we acquire land
we build and/or develop a self sustaining community
this community is part made up of isolated folks trying to get a foothold in general society
we run a business or two from the land (farming, crafts, camping site, etc)
How on earth do we make this happen? How will it work?
Slowly, with much head scratching, ingenuity, internet trawling, form re…


The number six turns into a frying pan. The number eight splits into two circles. Number six becomes a spoon, it dollops icing on both circles of eight, which are now cakes.
At this point, dreaming is suspected.
Awake, the interpretation takes no effort.
Yesterday marked the 68th year since my father was born into this world, and since he isn’t here any more a dream-cake is offered.

Outside, the world is enriched. Pale gold, the winter sun. From the car, from blades of grass, in swathes across the fields, verglas glints. Starlings, jet dark, bloom up with a noise like sails catching a headwind. One memento mori crow watches from the ash tree.

On the way to her nursery Little Granddaughter sits in the car, kicking up her welly boots and lying about breakfast.
‘I had chocolate,’ she says, ‘and butter and frogs and a sheep.’
‘No toast?’
‘Yes and a tree and marmite and sprinkles. Sprinkles are pretty.’
She looks out of the window. In the town, the ice has melted.

There is something abou…

Winter's First Calendar Day

Nothing much is scheduled. The same drift of cloud loops over a low hill.
Everything else is mist.
Just over the line, just out of physical sight, a future crouches.
Out of the corner of a whimsical eye: palm trees, pineapples, postcard colours.
On a salt breeze comes laughter, comes glass to glass chinking.
Perhaps we’ll walk over there.
Perhaps is a word of possibility.
Mud shines, mist lifts, sun, emergent.
Tips of fingers bare and chill, toes in boots warm as crumpets.
We walk just the usual paths with nothing much scheduled; hum a little something.
Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps…