Haibun for a departure

 

On the telephone lines, the swallows gather, preparing their things for the departure, meeting old friends perhaps, rounding up children, chattering quietly of this and that and the nature of water. In their midst, a single turtle dove perches, enthralled by their stories of the great rolling sea, the rolling sky and the rolling clouds, the desert rolling bleached and bare and beyond, a place where the winter months of cold would be a cruel memory.

Is she tempted, the gentle bird, or is it he? Does he dare to imagine winter warmth and no guns? Probably not, the wild grey sea and the parched desert, shadowy images behind her anxious eyes, as she scans the meadow for fallen seeds.

an ending

an ocean of anguish

the call of home

drawing in the threads

another turn of the wheel

Room with a view

Lately, the weather has been wind, rain, storm, sun, repeat. From my desk, in the angle between two windows, I see the changing sky and how the wind and rain set the air in motion. Each evening, the wind drops, the sun comes out and I can hear the birds rather than the wind sighing. Straight ahead, I look west.

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and over my left shoulder, I look out of the south-facing window.

 

from south window

and if I go to the south window and look right, this is what I see.

 

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The sky and the trees are in constant movement, but I love the peace that falls at the end of the day.

 

calm as a still lake

at dusk when swans roost and

only nightingales

make the air tremble with

their ceaseless song

 

 

Morning light

I took some photos this morning, it was so still and warm. Amid the usual racket of thrushes, blackbirds, wood pigeons, nightingales, great tits and woodpeckers, (and the bactrian army) I could hear the first flutes of the golden orioles from the poplars and somewhere close the oop-oop-oop of the hoopoes. Everyone who is anyone has arrived. Spring can begin.

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Looking west and south.April192.jpg

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Looking into the sunrise and the pond where the bactrian orchestra practices.

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Poplars, hibiscus and the rose tree planted round about the time of the Great War.

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North side of the house where we ought to build a moat for drainage. One day…

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Bear’s garlic grows everywhere in the shade by the house. Like white blue bells…but the smell isn’t exactly the same.

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The meadow is full of blue flax flowers. Too much light to get the colour though.

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So much light

caught in petal bowls

bounced along blades of grass

fueling root and stalk

jungle of life.

 

Leaving the nest

The Daily Inkling prompt about the hardest nest-leaving prompted me to write about the last time I ever set foot in my parent’s home. I’ve never written about it before. It must be time.

 

There was a stillness about the house as if she had just gone upstairs, or out to buy the bread, an expectancy, a trail of her perfume in the air. I could almost hear her departing steps, the click of the door. My eyes went to the chair by the window that my dad hadn’t sat in for ten years. Exactly ten years. The symmetry was unbearable, as hard as the tidiness.

She had known before anyone even knew she was sick, terminally sick, that it was over, life, living, walking the hills with her friends, nattering with us all on the phone, always a visit planned. She had spent those last weeks folding the linen away neatly, cleaning out the fridge, throwing away everything that was worn or torn or would be of no use to anyone else. Afterwards.

She permeated the air particles with that faint scent of a perfume that nobody else wore. Nothing was out of place. Everything was clean, shelves dusted, the rental paid on the TV up to the end of the month. She had even renewed the subscription at the DVD place, up to the end of the month. By then, the funeral would be over and we would have all gone home.

I wept over every still, faintly perfumed corner of that house where I had never lived. It had been my parents’ house, where they lived. Their nest. But I realised then, in that moment of sitting in a front room that had never been mine, with siblings around me, together as we had so rarely been in that house, that the house didn’t matter. It could have been a pile of dust on the dark side of the moon, but that tidiness, that delicate thoughtfulness, the faint perfume that permeated it, made it home.

After the funeral, the house died too, and we put it to rest. We emptied it of the carefully folded linen, the mementos, photos, her paintings, the furniture, all that she had thought would be useful or would please us to have, and we laid the stones to rest. My parents’ nest was empty. We have it all now, the twigs and pebbles lovingly gathered, in our hearts.

 

A house

I’m starting a new story, doing research and thinking about the characters, making a tentative acquaintance, so naturally, I’m prevaricating. It’s too hot for real work.

 

In this small stone house each room feels different, a world in itself. The kitchen, broad and cluttered, big-beamed with red tiled floor where cats flit back and forth, the radio trills all day, and food sits on shelves waiting to be transformed in the cool gloom into meals. The bedroom, big and dark with the shutters closed against the sun and heat, a trickle of light on the terracotta floor, plaster walls, high beams, and the smell of perfumes from the mantelpiece over the open fire. Silence hangs here, mysterious, like withheld breath. The study, a jumble of papers and computers, nests of wires and places for dogs and cats to curl undisturbed, spreads out into the meadow. Light streams across the orange tiles from south and west, lit by sun and tree green, meadow flowers reflected, and filled with the scent of citronelle. It welcomes, stove warm in winter, cool green in summer. Daughter’s room, chequerboard tiles, pale walls and the mess of a short life’s worth of souvenirs. Hallway, more terracotta, gnarly beams, heavy doors heavy-bolted, barn and attic, hay stalks and dust motes. Old, used, worn—peace sinking back into the earth.

Light falls

a stream of golden silence

the shutters sigh.

En promenade with Trixie

Trixie is not the kind of cat that shows much interest in people. She is very vocal, but that’s telling people what she wants, not an attempt at meaningful conversation. The only time she was known to allow anyone to pick her up and not protest was when she was an abandoned kitten and was looking for a home daft enough to take her in. Her behaviour has changed quite a lot since we’ve been here. Not that she purrs or sits on your lap or anything demeaning like that, but she has developed a taste for going walkies. Every afternoon she comes with me, or me and Finbar on a stroll around the property. It’s two hectares so it makes a reasonable stroll for a cat.

I set off down towards the stream, and Trixie follows.

Trixie begins

She knows the path

She knows the routine

We meet one of the noisy critters that chuckles all night. It thinks we can’t see it, but the water in this bit of the ditch is only about half an inch deep.

Frog

Come on Trixie

We inspect the deer damage. This is supposed to be what happens when they rub their horns against trees, but since they do it systematically to the young saplings, I wonder if it’s not that they are eating the bark.

Deer damage

Trixie takes the lead along the hedge. She inspects the animal runs while I take pics of the orchids.

Trixie ahead

There are only a few serapias in our meadow, but the one at the other side of the hedge has masses of them. This one appears to have a bee stuck in it.

Sarapia orchid

There are hundreds of bee orchids

Bee orchids

and a big clump of these that look like birds’ nest orchids, but since they are rare and grow mainly in pine woods, I wouldn’t swear to it.

Birds' nest orchids

Looking across to the house. The pink flower is a pyramid orchid of which there are hundreds. We’ve noticed that the people round here leave these orchids standing when they mow their lawns. I wonder if there isn’t some local legend about them.

Meadow high

A very old blackthorn with sloe berries forming

very old blackthorn

Fig and walnut trees in the patch that was the old kitchen garden

Fig and walnut

A bit of the massive vine that we are liberating from the brambles

grapevine

The next section is where the grass snake lives and I don’t like to hang about. It is very large and it hisses. Then there are the oak tree where squirrels live and both Trixie and Finbar are very keen to get at, so I carry Trixie, protesting vociferously until we get to the poplars and the black locust tree.

Home again

Home again.