Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Untypical Witchery

Photo credit: Gareth Lloyd, sourced from Facebook

Red dust shook up, till the sun could be stared at, flat-edge-blurred, as though it were being reforged.
The storm like a bellows through fire came, twisting trees till all the deadwood fell.
We watched to see if it might char.
Leaves blew like sparks, carmine, citrine, circulating.
A storm is not strange in October, but - warm air, no rain?
A tropical tempest?
What untypical witchery is afoot?

Skin aglow, on a short car journey, we were laughing at how hairstyles were impossible serpents, and no clothing could be still (every passerby was a bag of snakes) and then, in a sheltered spot, how three cautious geese poked their heads from a gate before venturing the lane.
What - warm air no rain witchery, and no black cat? No hare? No bat?

Shuffle bottomed geese look back, lest we think to read their entrails.

Photo credit: Mike Batson, Southend On Sea Facebook page

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Grandchild 6, Eventually

Tuesday. A clear sky, a fine Autumnal time. Leaves that fall are all gold, on the branches green keeps hold. Mist in the morning, rolling on the river. The afternoon bright, mild, cooling. Grandchild 2 at the school door, talking-talking, she forgot her bag, she goes back for it. There's an apple sale but our freezer is full, pockets empty. Never mind, she gets hugs from her friends on the stroll to the car, talking-talking, see her reading book, it's called ‘My Mum Is Going To Explode!’ No baby news yet, for this Almost Big Sister. She is happy, staying with grandparents, staying up late, going training, and her old friend Dog to boss about.
Tuesday is fine, though no Mum exploded. Modern medicine has not prevailed.

Wednesday. Grandad put sugar on the last bowl of cereal. Grandchild 2 is not a sugar fan - she has a poached egg replacement. (Hopefully she didn't put the breakfast mistake in her journal.) Grandad makes his second redemption by showing her how to press apples - apple juice she likes, even if it’s sweet. She brings Granma a cup to try. But she is missing Mummy. Granma checks her phone, again, again. Nothing doing, explosion-wise. Some uncomfortable belly tectonics. Not enough to pop.
So, Sister-to-be goes training again, though bumping her foot makes her cry (it wouldn't usually) she is soon mended by a stint of mini-trampolining.
Plus, we fetch her dog to stay with us. Her adorable-overwhelming Huggy Labrador.

Thursday. House has a tide of dog fur. House has a forceful tide of dog. House has a tired, over excited child. (House is also the venue for a business meeting. Somehow some sense is made. And cups of tea. And many apologies, including the constant phone watching.)
Mummy has not exploded yet.
Grandchild 2 and Granma get in a car. They drive to Exeter, to visit the un-detonated Mum. Mum sits on the hospital bed, round as a pomegranate. They will put her on a drip soon, she says, but there's a queue for the labour ward. It sounds so polite.
Granma has to teach so they leave, waving to the window where the Mummy and Daddy are waving back; looking to the pink coating on clouds.
‘Shepherd’s delight! Pink sky at night!’
Later they drive home, goggling a full moon.

Friday. Starts with accustomed mellow mist. Sun and clear sky. A trip to the park (while the car gets new tyres, the tracking is off, the ramp broken, we have to go garage chasing to get that booked in, one of those days) brings climbing challenges, triumphs, a close view of a squirrel, a pocketful of acorns. Also motion sickness for Granma - filming on a roundabout, she should know better!
On the way home ingredients are purchased. Before that fun can begin, dogs must be walked, and a bear hunted and tales told, out in the big wide fields.
A pumpkin is carved, soup simmered, pizza faces made, and cooked and ate, and cards played.
Tonight training is on too late, so the Almost Big Sister goes to Nanny's house to wait.
Granma drops her there. She goes home. She has a nap. She has a shower.
She is not checking the phone, not for a few minutes. So that, of course, is when the message comes through.
Grandchild 6! No further medication required, she was ready to pop herself out.
Never mind late. It's Friday anyway - after work everyone goes to meet her, the little bundle that would not be shifted.

Will you always be this stubborn? Granma asks.
The little one opens her eyes.
Yes, she's going to fit in just fine.

Prenatal Ward Family Portrait

Friday, 29 September 2017

Book Review, September

I found this author via Radio 4, Desert Island Discs. Having spent so many years without the funds for new books, I am unaware of many writers whose work I would otherwise be munching up. Of course the 50p box at the second hand store has delivered me many unusual delights, no need for sympathy - but I heard Ali talk and thought, I like her, I want to read those books. So when I could, I bought a brand new paperback. I had been working long hours and the first page swam in front of me for a while. It seemed too dense, I couldn't get through it. Such disappointment! Luckily this was just tiredness - for which I will accept some sympathy because I am tired again today - this week I have clocked 97 hours! 
Anyway, we should discuss the book, now I’ve told you how honest-poor and hard working and admirable I am (grins, sheepish, impish). Two stories, one of a young girl whose mother has died, and one of a renaissance artist, are told and spliced without it seeming incongruous. It is full of humour, quirky, insightful, touching, thought provoking. Rather than give away too much about the book and how it is structured, because I revelled in discovery with this, I thought I’d pick a bit of prose to share.
Here is an extract from Georgie’s story (she’s the modern teenager) where she is keeping the leak in her bedroom ceiling a secret:

‘Her room will be stained with the grey grease and dregs of the dirt the rain has absorbed and carries, the dirt the air absorbs every day just from the fact of life on earth. Everything is this room will rot.
She will have the pleasure of watching it happen.
The floorboards will curl up at their ends, bend, split open at the nailed places and pull loose from their glue.
She will lie in bed with all the covers thrown off and the stars will be directly above her, nothing between her and their long-ago burnt-out eyes.’

Here are links to a superior review:

And a preview:

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Making Charcoal At The Bulworthy Project

Just a structure, at first. A ring of metal that sits, foot-swaddled in tarred sand. 

(It has a big lid, like a witch's cook pot, and here we are in the woods…)

We learn how to stack logs inside, how the layers wheel out, how positioning of sizes is guided by pockets of future heat. It is good work, smelling cut wood, eyeing grain-whirls, hands on bark, the muffled drop of getting each piece in optimal place. 
Even the rain is fun, a challenge. 

Stacked, lidded, sealed with a slick of sand.
Into the middle of our sculpture fire is set. 
An effigy for burning, unseen - well, we may peek with mirrors through out-pipes, witness a glow - but should we crack the lid the fumes would ignite - we should all burn.
Potential annihilation has an awe, a draw, even before the smoke seeps across our feet and the squat ring takes on a life. 
Is it a portal, to a world of steam and light?
It is something new, hypnotic, pluming, turning.
We are smitten with it, the alchemy in there, the happening.

Birds warble.
Trees breathe back the carbon of their brethren.
Autumn nuts weigh and drop.

We walk, brightly over dark mud, eat hearty, swig - all the while the magic chugs - we are drawn back to observe, for hours, spellbound.
Even while we sleep (cramped in the back of our car, Mr and me) it happens.
In the morning we drink coffee, watching thin mist spin.
Spinning what, we must wait to know.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Autumn Weft

Late in August warm air sunk to the ground, cooler air dropped to our shoulders.
We had felt the thermal transfer - thought of skin softly clothed, cinnamon and blackberries bubbling under pastry. 
We felt hot work easing, the loss of hot lazing. 

Rich greens remain, and summer bright blooms.
Nasturtiums flare up, like small fires. 

We smelt tree bark, apple skin, damped wood smoke.

Peripheral autumn.

But no season just becomes. 
It is a weaving.
(Spring in every bud, summer in every petal, autumn in every seed, winter in every root, or however you wish to follow the thread.)

In the hedge two spiders tango on a web - a match, or a meal for one?
Berries drop into our cache: sloe, hip, haw, black: a heap of jewels.

Harvest secured, we snuck through tall maize, to feel the leaves grab, and drop rain down our backs.
We were racing, laughing, till we saw the bird sat: injured, by a jaw-snap.
Too injured for us to mend, and fright would kill as sure as anything.
Here it was perched in green sanctuary, calm and shocked and between worlds.

This too, a weaving.

Back in open field, for the second time I, clumsy human, arms full of fruit, disturb Dog’s befriending of a young fox. Russet-red, sun-sleepy, it delays its stir as long as it dares.
Dog wags her tail at the hole in the hedge, looks to us.
I can only shrug, promise to return.
We will be stocking up, fruit first, then acorns. 

Making our histories of these moments.