I don’t mind admitting that I have found life difficult over the last ten days:
A dear friend who has been my support and refuge in dark times is moving away. Seeing the cottage being emptied and cleared and smelling the old familiar smell of wood smoke from the evening fires when we used to settle in to talk and watch DVDs is upsetting.
I have real concerns for two loved ones whose health looks to be seriously compromised. We await test results.
Another close friend has been in an accident and is off her feet for some weeks. Her husband has to have another round of chemotherapy.
My favourite farmer with whom I exchange memories of the countryside 50 years ago when I go to buy feed, has been in hospital, lost one kidney to cancer, caught a hospital infection, now has breathing problems and the surgeon is concerned over the health of his remaining kidney.
We are noticing our energy levels are decreasing with age but are not mentally ready to give anything up, but we can see the beginning of the writing on the wall.
The Robin is practising his Autumn song: not much yet, just a few notes, but it is on the way. I am not ready for the wistfulness and poignancy of Autumn.
I have been weepy and wanting to hide in corners and pull covers over my head.
So the mood around here has been:
Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see.
So yesterday I went to see my doctor and reminded her that the last time I had felt so bad she had offered me HRT. Then I went to the chemist and begged for the prescription straight away before I cut my throat.
And this morning? I slept well, the sun is shining, and we are having a glorious, sun-soaked, golden day. The kind of burnished gold that comes in late summer when the sun is lower than at the height of the season. The air is humming with insects, the bushes are bright with butterflies, some cyclist went past and commented, “What a lovely garden!”
Nothing else has changed, but the hay is cut and the smell is wafting down the valley, nature looks productive and happy, I have spent the morning sowing seeds – Lamb’s Lettuce and Miner’s Lettuce for winter salads – my turnip and kale seedlings are nearly ready to plant out, my winter planting of garlic is on the way by post, and we are all bright with sun and blue skies and lovely smells and activity.
When I walked up to the hay field, the sight of the cut hay drying in windrows took me back centuries. Hay has lain drying like this since humans began to farm. The cutting mechanism may be different, the baling may be different, but the look and smell on the field is timeless.
Butterflies were patrolling up and down like drops of jewelled light and I sat in the shade of the hedge that I planted in memory of my mother, and remembered descriptions of this scene in music and words, that has entranced so many before me.
Wherever I end up in old age, I must be somewhere in the country, where I can be soothed and healed by such sights.
I am taking a day off from worrying and sadness today. It would be sacreligious not to.