All posts filed under: stray thoughts

swans, 22 December | edge of evening

Do you change it? Do you leave it the same?

Top photo: December 22, 2016; Bottom photo: January 21, 2017                         Do you change it? Do you Leave it the same? from ‘Mind Core’ by Juan Felipe Herrera   I went running last Saturday afternoon. I couldn’t go in the morning, as I have been recently, because of an ill child and because we needed to eat lunch at 11.30 to get another child to her extra ballet practice. It was because of the ill child and the ballet child that I didn’t march, a trip to London being just too awkward to fit in. I thought that I was okay with that, but as the day progressed — coughing child, breakfast, supermarket, lunch, hour-long wait in the car for ballet child — I felt less and less okay about it, until I felt very un-okay in a frustrated and angry kind of way. Which is where the run came into things. Chunks of thick broken ice on the boardwalk. Silvered grasses. Pied wagtail. Robin fluttering …

Begin Again | edge of evening

Begin again

And so, again we start at the beginning. Maybe we even start a little way back, looking for the point where we lost ourselves in the pre-Christmas rush. Trying to pick up the threads of what we were thinking, what we were doing, where we were heading. Each time I resolve to hold tighter to that thread, but I think now that losing it — or at least setting it aside for a time — is all part of these years with young children. The trick might be to put it somewhere you will remember it; to pick it up again as soon as you can. So here’s what I’m doing: Waking early again to read in the still-dark house. (Solmaz Sharif’s stunning collection , Look, is making it so that I practically leap out of bed.) Noticing. Linda Gregg’s essay The Art of Finding is the thing I always come back to when I feel I’ve stopped seeing & so I’m doing my six things religiously. (“I have my students keep a journal in …

Wildeve in frost | edge of evening

Four

I sometimes find myself thinking the strangest things. One of these thoughts, which occurs somewhere towards the end of every school term is, it’s always some time of the year. It sounds like a complaint, and in some ways it is, but I take comfort from it. It’s true, if it’s not nearly the summer holidays, then it’s Harvest Festival, or Easter, or someone’s birthday, or it’s Christmas. And though each of these things means that cakes have to be baked or presents wrapped or costumes acquired or fashioned, they’re also the rhythm to our year, the seasonal beat to our children’s childhoods. I just looked back at this time last year. Once again, it’s the school Christmas Fair tomorrow. We celebrated the Pip-Pop turning four last weekend. Earlier in the week one of his pre-school teachers heard me calling him Mops (Popsy/Pops/Mops — all still in use) & laughed. And I thought, oh, yes, he’s C to you. He sat down at the table earlier in the week and declared that he was going …

post-election reading | edge of evening

What are you going through?

I had put dark brackets around the paragraph that began, “The love of our neighbour in all its fullness simply means being able to say to him: ‘What are you going through?’” [Simone] Weil was talking about the Grail quest, about the king afflicted with a terrible wound, experiencing excruciating pain. She was talking about suffering. The Grail was said to belong to the one who is compelled, feels the compassion, knows to ask, and, most importantly, has the courage to ask the king, “What are you going through?” Which seemed a very easy thing to do, but of course this is complicated by those cold and sometimes necessary distances we keep from one another as human beings, by our reservations, by our worries about what might be appropriate, by protocols, by hesitation, by over-interpretation of who the sorrowing suffering Grail king might truly be. How is one to do this?Rumi and the Red Handbag by Shawna Lemay I’m a firm believer in the serendipity of reading: that each book finds us when we most need …

Wildeve buds in frost | edge of evening

Talking to myself (or, go & read these essays)

After half-term & various illnesses and school events etc, Wednesday was the first day in three weeks that everyone has been at school/pre-school for their full hours. And, oh, the joy of those precious hours alone. I read so many good things that morning & I wanted to share a couple of them here — though I suspect that many of you will already have read them. * Firstly, I reread Rachael Nevins on Elena Ferrante’s Frantumaglia. I love this essay so much! I’ve enjoyed Rachael’s blog for years & so it was wonderful to read how she recognised her personal ‘frantumaglia’ in Ferrante’s fiction. Few people know about my phobia, because it is so peculiar that even I can hardly account for it; now I have a word I can use to tell the strangest thing about me, the way that my mind snags on certain objects of the world, allowing an inexplicably horrifying disorder to tumble in. “Why might you have felt that you were going to pieces?” asked my therapist after my honeymoon. Her question seemed to be beside the …

Return

  It’s our second day back from two and a half weeks in France. The older two are at tennis (finally the perfect day for it: blue-skied, low 20s), & Pops is sitting on the rug setting up the tea party for Zeezee his zebra’s 100th birthday (‘He’s got very old suddenly,’ T commented. ‘He was ten last week.’). Coming home is, I find, always a different experience. There are times when the house seems impossibly narrow or shabby or filled with cat hair (and, being honest, cat shit), & then there are the times when it seems we’re ridiculously lucky to be living right here, where we are, in the middle of our terrace, in the middle of this small city. Fortunately, this time, despite the almost obligatory welcoming rain, it all seems pretty perfect. The roses & sweet peas are still blooming. The self-seeded nasturtiums have gone wild. The grass is long & thick. Inside, each corner reveals its own secrets. The string-of-hearts hanging from the bathroom cabinet. The now cryptic Post-It notes on my desk (‘inhabiting …

Sweet peas 2016 | edge of evening

Postcard from now: summer holiday edition

It’s early. The roofbox is on the car. The little ones are still sleeping. Somehow we’ve careened to the end of another school year & the summer is stretched out before us. The endless weeks of rain turned to three days of intense heat and endless sun. Now, the sky is spread with quilted white clouds, the air is deliciously cool on my bare arms. When we got our tent, we imagined spontaneous weekends of camping. But here, in the middle of our lives, nothing is as spontaneous as it seems. The roofbox lives in the shed at the bottom of the garden, the tent right at the back of the cupboard under the stairs, the stove and sleeping bags and mats come out of the eaves storage. We’re working with it: two camping trips a fortnight apart. This morning we leave for Dorset & then, later in the summer, back to France. I’ve tried to be realistic with my book packing. I’m bringing just three. (Plus the knowledge that it would be easy enough …

Wildeve | edge of evening

Postcard from now

This is from Friday, when all I had for you were disconnected thoughts. I think, maybe, things are improving. Or at least, the sun is shining. Holding on, holding on. One of the first signs, always, avoiding myself. I stop getting up to write. Days go blank. This morning, on the way to pre-school, I remember the boys of my childhood. Craig Harwood. Ian Stanton. Ben Luker. Paul Catchpole. Robert Thompson. Richard Colvin, Old Colv. Richard Roberts, Boo. Some of these boys I haven’t seen since I was eleven. Some continued to be in my classes at secondary school. Boys who were always there in the background. Names & associations that might be with me forever. A pattern to the weeks. The weekend’s momentum carrying me through Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday, a pause. The first pre-school day. Reading, not writing. Thursday, a headache. Friday, pre-school again, but too late for anything but tears. Thinking of the boys reminds me of Jo Ann Beard’s The Boys of My Youth. I came to it through her wondrous, …

Geranium | edge of evening

Headlong

Last night the knife slipped when I was making dinner. When I uncurled my right hand from the middle finger of my left, ready to see the fresh red of my blood, there was nothing. Looking closer at a finger that throbbed numbly but wasn’t bleeding, I saw that I had sliced right through my fingernail. A thin line of red appeared: a backslash on the nail bed. I called B to come and finish chopping the onion. This morning I’ve come out to the coffee shop to be looked after by the beautiful young people. Girls with glossy long hair and impossibly thin waists. Boys with plaid shirts and black skinny jeans. They bring my coffee to me and I sit and watch them work and read Kate Zambreno. The place is full of newborns. I feel like I’ve been crying all night — though in reality the tears are constantly at the back of my eyes, prickling, threatening to fall. “What has been omitted?” asks Zambreno. “What has been scratched out? Days, lives, wives.” She is writing …

Lady Emma Hamilton | edge of evening

Postcard from now

The sky is still blue, but the light is just fading. B is out in the garden, painting the shed. (I think he’s been working on rebuilding the shed for three summers! But this is the last thing — until, of course, the whole thing has to be started over.) Today was the Moose’s sports day & I’m tattooed in thin lines of red which trace the gap between my suncream & my clothes. I’m heavy-limbed and sleepy in that particular way that only comes after you’ve washed a hot, sticky day from your body & find yourself fresh in the warmth of evening. I feel like the immediacy of Instagram has increased the distance between the words I write here and the time they took place. We’ve been to Amsterdam & now we’re back. I’ve read books — good books that I want to write about. But, since Pops stopped napping — which is now way-back-when (maybe this time last year?) — I seem to have lost my previous blogging routine. Anyway, it’s here. You’re …