garden notes, stray thoughts
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Eclipse threads

All I have today are loose threads. Strands of thought.

We were all excited this morning about the eclipse. At school drop-off people were talking about where they’d been in 1999 for the last eclipse. B and I had planned to walk to Cornwall to see it. I asked him to remind me why we were going to walk rather than, say, get the train & he made the peace sign at me. Anyway, we didn’t, but we can’t remember why. His sister’s wedding maybe. Or maybe we decided it was going to be cloudy anyway. Or maybe we realised that walking from London to Cornwall was going to take a while. Who knows? It was our first summer together. Sixteen years ago.

This morning, though, was totally cloudy: white-grey sky. I walked into town with Popsy, bought a coffee & we ended up on the Cathedral green just before 9.30. It was cold, very cold, and there was a small scattering of people standing around, trying to work out where the sun would be, if we were able to see it. I recognised another mother from the Moose’s reception class, someone I’d never spoken to. We stood together, talking. She made my eclipse.

Look, she said, the birds have stopped singing. And, yes, there they were roosting in the bare trees. Eclipses have influenced events for millions of years — that’s why so many great wars started with an eclipse. You can feel something now, no? She was Russian; a great creator of atmosphere. And see, here we all are, why are we all standing by the Cathedral?– we are drawn to it, just as people were drawn to the churches in their villages for hundreds of years. But yes, there was something. Or she conjured something for me. The cold was impressive in itself, even if there was nothing to see but a gloomier gloom.

Now the sun is strong, the sky a high blue.


Still on the subject of hanging out the washing, a tweet from Denise led me to this . I’m not sure about the exclamation mark, but yes to the rest. It’s taken me back to my Bloodaxe edition of Jane Kenyon’s selected poems, Let Evening Come, and though it’s not in there I got lost in plenty of others. I’m still starting the second part of my morning (around 7, just before I get dressed) with a poem, this week mixing Jen Hadfield’s Nigh-No-Place in with Singing School.  This morning, instead of reading, I wrote out Seamus Heaney’s A Brigid’s Girdle — perfect for spring.


I thought that I was done with photographs of the samaras. They’ve all fallen from the tree. But today, right up by the house, I spotted a glimmer of green in a pot containing a plant that I’m almost certain is dead. I was hopeful for a second. But, no, it was the unfurling — soft, soft green, wound in so tight — of new life. One of my little helicopters split open with spring.


The final thread. I don’t want you to do anything with it, just hold it for a moment, then let it drop. Yesterday was twenty-five years since my father died. And I thought of him, and us as a family, and that day, but it was just one thread within many. I ran in the morning, past the Cathedral and along the river and back through the nature reserve. It was early, around six, and the world was full of only those who needed to be there. The lifeguards at the pool, a cleaner at the art college. Men (various) in orange jackets, cycling to work or standing in groups. Those putting up the market stalls. Later, by the river, the milkman. I heard a woodpecker by the Cathedral. I saw a wren flit into the reeds in the nature reserve. In the evening, at yoga, he stood before me, looking straight at me & all he said was, I’m sorry. And though I knew that I’d conjured him, given him his line from somewhere unknowable within, there was still a strange jolt, a part of me that thought yes, if I ever left my children — though the fault not wholly my own — that would be what I would want to say to them: I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.


  1. Your writing is exquisite. That last line. Oh my goodness. This beautiful world…. (I am crying in the University of Toronto’s athletic centre outside a dance class.) You are why I love blogs. xo

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