May journal 31

The last day and I had no time to finish writing this. There was too much going on, and too much to be anxious about.

A day of roses and waiting, walking and weeding, cooking and feeding. There were trains to be waited for, homecomings and a departure, mechanical and distant, out of my control, and a wandering cat staying out after curfew. Wings and feet at nature’s speed move this green world, washing up with the wild tide.
But dusk fell calm and clear, windless blue and gold, everything at last in its place.

Cat stalks home
smelling of meadow grass
quiet as the night
oblivious of human anxiety.

May journal 30

The vine needed pruning, too much growth and the first signs of phylloxera in one small section. The sun beat hot and the leaves of the apple trees are wilting. Roses bloom despite the heat with their desert thorns growing tall against walls stone-white in the glare. A young snake slipped beneath the house. Lizards.
In Bix’s bed, a chewed ricotta container and a wooden doorstop. Flocks of white stuffing from a soft toy.

May not out
already the stream
runs low and muddy
heat-tired
trees parch for lack of rain.

May journal 28

The year is rolling away too fast. Already the orchids in the meadows have faded, the fescue a metre high, hiding the vetches and marguerites, the foaming artemisia on the banks. The heat is returning and there has been no rain, the stream runs low and fissures snake tectonic patterns beneath the grass. The pheasants crow in the morning adding their voices to the song birds’ but by afternoon all but the blackbirds and a persistent chaffinch are dozing.
Bix helped unpack the groceries and we retrieved the olives from his bed, along with a packet of tissues, the lid from a pot of cream and a plastic container stolen from the kitchen table. The plastic container did not survive the experience.

Air bright and dry
flutters with butterfly wings
scent of woodbine
hot breath of the trees.

May journal 27

Things change subtly in this quiet place
the height of stalks
the changing colours of the flowers
thickening clouds of butterflies
damselflies and swallow-flocks.
And the growing of confidence.

We are learning our two new charges, how the timid one is not the one with most fears, how the boisterous friendly one has terrors only just below the skin. Take him by the collar to lead him away from some naughtiness, and he screams, curls up in misery. We can imagine too well what punishments he must have been dragged to, dealt out beyond the door. He only has half a tail to put between his legs. Where did the other half go? With the missing piece of ear perhaps. And how were the two great scars on a back leg gained?
Calm and patience is what he needs, both, all. We have so many debts to pay, so much misery to sooth.
The sun is back and a restless wind, bringing heat this time, dry as bone. We walked up the hill in the deep shade. The stream is running low.

What do we hear
in the silence of the wind
but the voices of those we love
calling.

May journal 26

Not rain, just a sprinkling of drops. Clouds jostle and little blue in the sky, cool wind. Roses, old-fashioned and loose-petaled fall in pale pink clouds. The fescue waves and if it speaks, it is in broken whispers.

Falling quietly (not rain)
the cloud-shoulders shudder
silently falling tears.

Time passes in small jobs, weeding, walking, watching the sky. I should be bored by the lack of excitement, novelty, but like the smoothing on of salves, the way some music untangles the cords, the stillness soothes the anxieties that trouble inner waters. The ship sails, hugging the shore maybe, not making for the open sea, but it sails easy, and the shore is beautiful too.

Cloud lifts
and the room fills with light
fills with even breathing
a harmony of rising ribs
and falling
like the last notes
of an evening song.

May journal 25

I had been going to rant about the massacre of nineteen small children in Texas, but what’s the point? It happens regularly and nothing ever changes, no massive organised protests, strikes, blockades. They’ll get in their convoys to protest about having to wear a paper face mask but not to save children from having their bodies ripped to pieces. It’s a society that places the right of moral cretins to pose with big guns above the right of children to live. Twisted, inhuman.

Wind swirls east then west
sun flickers and goes out
but the blackbirds sing regardless.

So quiet here without the girls, gone home, back to the city, and husband away for the day. Only Trixie sits in front of the computer, playing with the mouse. I hope it will live. Dogs snooze, contented to have full bellies and a bit of fussing. I wonder about the fate of the killer whale in difficulty in the Seine, how you live with the pieces of a child, where human selfishness will lead.

There is a hole somewhere
a sheer cliff
a well with no bottom
a mouth full of teeth.
We will all meet there someday.

May journal 24

Our visitors left today and the world slowly settled back into its usual quiet, a little dusty, a little faded, but peaceful.
We’re working on freeing up another section of vines, white grapes this time, from the hedge of bramble, dogwood, blackthorn and plum that has swallowed them up.

Sky would be bright
but muddled with undecided clouds
the wind troubles the sunlight.

The light is pure and pale silver-green, the golden heat in abeyance for a few days. Raindrops fall in scatters, not showers, not even cloudbursts, moistening the earth, and every stalk, leaf, budding berry fruit bears a crystal drop.

May journal 23

How can I wander lonely,
not see what lies beneath the stalk tangle,
not hear the piping in the trees,
when I have companions
who understand it all?

We walked through meadows criss-crossed with animal trails, burrows and scrapes, where the orchids are drying, browning after the last days’ heat, and in the fields at either hand of the track, wheat, flax-coloured, not quite gold was ruffled, like watered silk, by the wind bringing the change.
The storm passed us by in the night, its progress along the river threshing our trees with its rags. We listen and wait for rain, still hoping.

In the wind,
the house whistles, groans,
and doors rattle,
the restless air turns about itself
like an uneasy dog
nosing a strangeness.

We wait for more visitors to arrive, peaceful and settled in the shelter of four walls that have become familiar to us all. More children to fill the spare room for a night and share a few meals, walks, and all the news.

Woodpecker
pied and red-capped
squeaks without pause in the lime tree
ordering the beetles to arise.

May journal 22

The air was heavy with storm, dense with water. Hot and windy, but the washing took all day to dry. Walked (trotted) the dogs around the land, feeling like Ben Hur with his chariot horses, starting pheasants in the hedge, sending the marsh beaver family flopping into the stream, then galloping on the trail of the boar that had been by in the night, digging their great holes everywhere.

A family outing
of diggers and delvers
of wallowers in the mud
enjoyed the moonlight
while we slept.

A dead crayfish, unearthed by a pig from the mud in the ditch made Bix leap in terror. Redmond flinches in doorways. So many things to learn in this world shaped for humans.

Wind flailing the poplars
whipping leaves to a cream
of sea spray
the storm reaches red
over the western horizon
wailing its fierce songs
like the ancient sea wolves.

May journal 21

A beautiful day with our favourite grandchild come to meet her new friends. It was a whirlwind of movement, hard to keep up, and even Trixie, after being chased enjoyed licking out a pot of cream while the two in the dog house watched.

The Oracle gave me a sort of cadralor with some of the day’s events in there. She is always watching.

A day in the country

1.
Sun bakes the meadow,
shrinks the pink of orchid flowers,
cool shadow beneath the trees
out of reach,
we stick to the track,
poppy-fringed.

2.
She is growing, gabbling,
unsteady on her feet,
so she dances sitting down,
plays dog-catch and pine cone games,
sticky as honey,
a flower grass-petaled.

3.
The garden is a ship,
an ark, sweating gently in the heat,
brim-full of rescued things,
fauna and flora
and we gardeners,
cooks and carers.

4.
Play for some,
a mad race for another,
no blood, but a fright,
and the game stops in harsh words,
hung canine heads
and a cat in a tree.

5.
No tears, no sadness,
but a day of laughter,
panting like puppies,
rolling in green,
smelling the wind for new things,
on the brink of new lives.