All posts filed under: stray thoughts

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 …

Magnolia, April 2016 | edge of evening

From the bench

Though it now seems almost impossibly unlikely — two frosts & a hail storm this week — there was a day last week when I spent the morning on the garden bench. And though I told you about that morning, I didn’t use the obligatory magnolia-at-peak-beauty photos that I took from my bench. The tree was pruned heavily after last spring’s flowering and so peak-magnolia was slightly less magnificent than the last couple of years (when, in retrospect, the tree was taking up more than the width of our narrow garden) but it was still pretty magnificent. Like the peak of many things, peak-magnolia is a moment that only reveals itself in retrospect. Now the petals have browned, the leaves aren’t yet fully unfurled. Now we are at the ugly duckling stage between early spring and late spring. Between the time when it all seems joyous and miraculous, and the time when you wish it would just hurry up and be summer already. But the chicks of the blackbirds nesting in our neighbours’ climbing hydrangea have hatched. The …

Apricot blossom | edge of evening

Full & empty

The days at the moment are both full & empty. Full of things that I want to explore intellectually; empty of definite appointments, except those imposed by the after-school carousel of swimming lessons and football practices and ballet classes. Full of time with the Pip-Pop — walking hand-in-hand to feed the ducks, watching him try to master the balance bike that his big brother used to whiz around on, helping him to hold a pen, watching as he tries to write words with magnetic letters on the fridge; empty of constraint, since most days we are free to do whatever we want to (between 9 & 3, which is obviously a large constraint of its own — and together, also a constraint worth mentioning). It’s good to be back in the rhythm of school this week, but it’s also terrifying to realise that the only thing that normally makes me feel ‘busy’ is the scaffold of the school day. Last week — of course a week of rain — with all three was lovely in …

Magnolia | edge of evening

Pause

Poetry makes language care because it renders everything intimate. This intimacy is the result of the poem’s labor, the result of the bringing-together-into-intimacy of every act and noun and event and perspective to which the poem refers. There is often nothing more substantial to place against the cruelty and indifference of the world than this caring. And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos by John Berger We’re at B’s parents’ house in France, on Easter break, on pause. Our Easters here are usually a taste of summer — often, juxtaposed against winter, more perfect than summer itself. But this year, with its early-Easter, its non-winter winter, it’s rained most of the time we’ve been here. Different weather, different rhythms; but still: reading, resting, thinking about what comes next. It’s been a year since we were here. They’ve all grown so much. On the days when the boys have been able to play outside, it’s been as though the future is now and B & I can both sit and read/play guitar. Then, on days when we’re all …

Hellebore | edge of evening

The turn

We had that first weekend when the weather finally turns, the earth creaking on its axis, and instantaneously the possibility of spring fills the air. Old friends came to stay and, though it normally rains here whenever anyone visits, this time the sun shone and it was, most definitely, spring. B & the children visited the farm shop to buy lamb and were also invited to admire the newborn lambs bothering their unfazed mothers in the field. T counted the births listed on the whiteboard — quads, triplets, twins and singletons: 112 lambs born in the past ten days. This morning I’m restless, the weekend worn off. The four hours without children shrinking and expanding as I fidget with the different ways I could fill them. The Year 6 children from school are cycling along the road outside my window, taking their cycling proficiency. I tried to explain to a French neighbour who came over for coffee yesterday what they’re doing out there. It sounded slightly crazy as our road is a dead end & there is …