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Showing posts from 2022

Beginnings, Halloween 2022

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Today I was stuck, briefly, in traffic. Gulls were keening, a sound that goes into my soul in a good way. When did I last sit to listen to the gulls? I've been busy with good things but oh my! I am tired. I knew that I was tired this time, I have been taking more breaks, resting up, allowing myself to miss our Dog, and clearly, I had better keep doing this. I always think a quick respite will do; sometimes one needs a stretch of rest. I keep writing. Writing can be done in gentle accruals and then becomes an activity that can feed me back. I did not write a Halloween story though, not even a comforting one, instead, I am keeping the tradition of sharing some writing with you, Dear Readers. Below are two extracts from the peripherals of the novel I am slowly completing; the first is a prequel that I wrote for my own guidance so probably will not be included in the final edit, the second is an attempt at describing the story, which will probably be rewritten over and over until the

Eulogy For Dog

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We had wanted a puppy and while at 10 months old she was not quite that, we saw her in the rescue home and we knew she was right for us. She was a liver and white Springer Spaniel, real name Midi (not too big, not too small) with a slender, tentative form. I respected her privacy so online she was known as Dog- many of you, Dear Readers, have watched her grow up with us, and will be sorry to learn that her adventures have ended now: please read on, come with us, it will be okay. The hesitancy young Midi Spaniel held towards her new home was reserved for indoors. Outdoors she was absurdly reckless, usually clumsy. She pelted over barbed wire, through thorns, jumped five bar gates; she threw herself into the sea, the river, the lake, the muddy puddles, rolled merrily in dung- she hated the bath. She did not much care for the company of other dogs, though with persistence she learned tolerance, and once fell in reciprocal love. She adored children. Children could be trained to play fetch

Dear Autumn

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This year, here, the Equinox has slipped by: not shy, not overlooked, more elegant, understated. This year, here, Autumn steps quietly, her satin gown spun from late summer sun, nut-bronze, gold-stitched. Her jewels are hedge-fruits, her crown is copperleaf. Where she steps the earth is rich with mulch, and tree branches bend, weighted by their crop. She is kind and stern, for all of this should be enough. We are in the garden, licking blackberry juice from purple fingers, picking out thorns, reaching for apples to eat, picking up windfalls to brew, glad to be here, this and every year. In our fields we pluck sloes, and more blackberries. Logs are stacked for longer nights. We feel the sun, smoothly warm, and the crackle of cold in the air: it is more than enough.  It is the seasonal rhythm of life. Dear Autumn, we thank you for this abundance, we honour you by the work of harvest and stores. When winter treads in you will be with us in jars, in hot bubbles of fruit, in the rich f

The Never-Ending Shed Story: Part Two

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Day 8: We waited for cooler hours before loading up the van, intent on finishing the shed build. The Shed Saga finale! We were optimistically wrong, of course, though the roof felt was tacked down, and both the fascia and the perched diamond of finial were drilled in. The field grass was looking parched, it was the colour of wheat biscuits. Crickets chirped- they always sound merry. We were hot and sticky like two marinated chunks. ‘It looks like a shed,’ we observed, surprised. ‘We should get the doors hinged!’ But our stomachs were growling and we were clumsy-tired. The doors would have to be another adventure. Meanwhile, it was time for cooking burgers in the van, for getting our stable sofa bed ready for a well-earned sleep, for setting up one table and two chairs under the sweep of the ash tree, looking down across the lower field as the sun dipped behind us and the nearly-full pink-faced moon rose up from the tree line on the opposite hill. We fetched out our reclining chairs, im

The Never-Ending Shed Story: Part One

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'January 1st, 2022:  In bed, chinking coffee cups, we say- what will this year bring? We hope it’s a track and a toilet shed.' Day 1: Our DIY shed kit having been scheduled for delivery on a day on which neither of us was working, we arrived at the land having barely finished our morning coffee. Mr had pre-constructed a base, 10 feet by 8 feet, which we diligently levelled. Then we waited. We had a picnic lunch. We napped in the dapples under an ash tree. We had afternoon snacks. We wandered to survey the wild blooms, discovered an unexpected tomato plant. Somewhere between 4 and 5pm the van arrived and was directed up to the shed site; the terse driver helped us unload, and then sped away to the next ‘place in the middle of nowhere.’ We stared at the heap of flimsy panels and knew that we were wrong to skimp and go for the good price and let ourselves be lulled by the internet write-up. But perhaps we let our expectations run too far? There’s one way to find out - start the ad

The Importance Of Losing When Pounced By Hyenas

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Work continues on preparing the flat areas for seeding with grass and clover. We have a new routine of stopping at County Tyres to fill the van with their cast-offs, before getting to the land, unrolling one bay’s worth of weed suppressant membrane, weighing it down with one line of stinky rubber and one line of soil dug from the stony ground. By then we are overheated, feel like we’ve been dunked in vaseline, decide that will do for the day, and snort at ourselves for thinking all of this would be done in a few hours. Usually, we head home for a nap, but sometimes we have company. On this particular day, we are hosting a family picnic- the gazebo is up, some rudimentary furniture is brought from the stable, the cold box is unpacked, salad is chopped. Grandchildren 6 & 7 are here with their Mum, they are ‘helping’ which they are surprised to discover does not include rolling the tyres down the hill. Being made to attempt to recover the tyres does dampen their enthusiasm- G7 informe

The Gross And Wonderful Work

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Thursday was hot like all the other days. Everyone had a warm glow like barbeque glaze. We had planned to go to the land but babysitting duties intervened. Grandchildren 6 & 7 (we have numbered our blessings) came to have garden adventures while their mother attended Grandchild 2’s Junior School Leavers’ Day Assembly. After surviving our lawn being lava, and an attack of maffive spiders (Maffive? Yeah, really big, Granma, maffive!) and this evening’s heat-hazed Tae Kwon-Do sessions (having returned Gs 6&7 to tell their tales) we, in the van, with a snoozy Dog, headed landwards, to be ready for an early start. We took a turn around the newly cut fields, soaking in the cooler evening air, serenaded by medieval music - minstrels at a nearby wedding, most likely, another celebratory moment. There were tiny bats circling a sycamore tree, there were evening primrose flowers glowing in the lowing light. Old Dog, loving the ease of the short grass, sprang into a joyful run; old limbs

Heatwave

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I leave early for work, to get to the beach. I start each shift tacky with salt, and my head full of sea pictures; the green weed wafting, the crab shell rolling, the sand eels flicker-flicker. If we trek to the land we do that early too. I dunked Old Dog in a bath of rainwater which she calmly tolerated. The next time we brought her, she stood by the bath waiting to be cooled off; not excited by the new trick, just forbearing. Afternoons are for naps and ice cream. If we get it right our brains don’t boil over, they simmer and ferment. Days and nights are like the sand eels, they flicker-flicker. The moon rises tiger-orange, while the sun oozes down. Travelling homewards, sunlight stripes a tree tunnel, lights up trunks like embers like I’m driving down the throat of a fire-breathing beast.  Sleep pulls heavy, stealthy, sneaking in. We dream in silver we dream in gold. Morning arrives in birdsong, settles into a mug of coffee. I leave early for work. I swim. I write: Diamonds are ten