and we take from our lives those days when everything moved,
tree, cloud, water, sun, blue between two clouds, and moon,
days that danced, vibrating days, chance poem.from Richard Hugo’s poem ‘Letter to Kathy from Wisdom’
There was a heavy frost yesterday morning. After we’d dropped the ‘big’ children at school, the Pip-Pop & I walked across the playing fields to feed the ducks. The frost and the mist touched everything with that almost unbearable beauty of the familiar transformed. We met a couple of parents coming back along the path from the local pre-school alone & I felt so glad to have the Pip-Pop with me. There are times — perhaps rarer now the littles are getting older — when I know that one day, not so very long from now, I would give anything to be back in this moment. And that thought reminded me of the lines from Richard Hugo’s poem that I’d read earlier, in the still quiet house, the pool of lamp light falling on this table that used to belong to my grandparents.
I’ve dreamt of both of my grandparents in the past couple of weeks. Glorious dreams, because though they’re still old, they’re restored: Grandma can remember; Gramps is strong. It’s strange that in the dreams they are never together. One of them or the other appears, but not both. Our dreams can be a gift sometimes.
It was B’s grandmother’s 90th birthday yesterday. In the afternoon, the Pip-Pop & I made a birthday cake for her to take with us when we visit at the weekend. We chose Tessa Kiros’s delicious and simple honey cake. I always smile at her introduction to the recipe, ‘I love the idea of children having honey cakes — like Winnie the Pooh.’
It will be the Moose’s birthday next week too & so there’s another cake to make in the next couple of days. I still remember holding him in my arms in bed, sometime during the first week he was with us, and fervently hoping that there would be someone there to love him when he was old. It was such a strange thought, appearing from nowhere. A sudden appreciation of how very much someone must once have loved the legions of elderly men on the bus, the old ladies shuffling back from the shops. How someone once tended to their helpless bodies, nuzzled the tender newborn head. I spend so much time worrying that something will take them from me, but it occurred to be yesterday, as we stirred the warmed honey and melted butter into the flour, that a good wish for them might be that there is someone, someone not yet even born, who will love them well enough to make them a birthday cake when I’m no longer here to do it.
Next week is half-term — so soon! as I always seem to cry. And the second half of the term is only five weeks, so that’s going to fly by. I’ll leave you with three of the things that have made my week.
// Firstly, this podcast from last May: James Wood in conversation with Christopher Lydon about ten books he believes are necessary for life. My beloved The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald (see the very last paragraph of this post) & Teju Cole’s Open City among them.
// Then, this conversation with Jane Hirshfield which got me through my run with grace & happiness despite the freezing rain.
// And finally, this wonderful poem by David Dominguez which I came to via Éireann Lorsung. I’ll give you a taste here, but make sure you go & read the whole poem — so good! (and dedicated to his students, which I loved & makes perfect sense):
Some nights, I filled my red truck with gas and drove west on the 19until my headlights flooded the desert, and when
the city was less than pinpoints of glitter, and when all I could hearwas the whine of silence in my ears,
I parked alongside the highway, leaned against my pickup, and staredat stars so sure of themselves as they shone
that I believed they couldn’t help but give me something that wouldmake me sit at my desk and write.
I felt directionless and wanted to walk out into the landscape,but I feared snakes and scorpions
hiding in the buckhorn and staghorn as I recalled my father’s words,“You’ll be lost forever on the far side of the moon”—
words that haunted me as I imagined slipping into lunar shadowsthat no human telescope would spot
from ‘Reading’ by David Dominguez