19 Mar Restless
Sunday – one of those days when the mind is fired with undirected energy. Impossible to settle; hopeless to expect to fulfil the much too extensive plan for the day I mapped out in my head on Saturday night.
A dry, bright morning. I’m told that Storm Gareth has long departed but it seems, these last few days, that his long coat tails have been flapping. Sunday, finally, is quieter. I decide on some gardening.
The weeds are back after a winter absence. Or, maybe, just a season of not noticing them. Now there are lots and lots of them. I set about the little patch at the front, squatting over my heels, loosening the damp soil around their roots, shaking it off and casting them into my green bucket. I do everything too intently, too intensely so that by the time I finish both front and back gardens my shoulders and haunches are screaming blue murder and my head is aching. My shoulders spend the rest of the day sliding up to my ears. I have to keep reminding myself to pull them down. There was no need to go at it like this – sometimes I just can’t help it.
I don’t know what I was thinking while waging war with the weeds. Scattered, straggly thoughts. Snatches of conversations with myself or some anonymous other. Somewhere at the edge of them were the news reports. 49 deaths on the other side of the world. With practice and by much deserting of Radio 4 for Radio 3 or Classic FM, I have found ways to muffle the noise of news, especially on things like Brexit. In any case, you get acclimatised to the repeat cycle of B-news – a bit like how your olfactory system adjusts to bad smells and blocks them out. That’s not possible with what happened in Christchurch at Friday prayers.
I saw a friend on Friday. We tried not to talk too much about the news – there wasn’t much to say. Such hatred leaves us sad, angry, uncomprehending and speechless. We had arranged to spend the afternoon at the new exhibition at the V&A: Dior: Designer of Dreams. Escape to a dreamland of fantasy frocks; it soothed us for a while.
I clip away some ivy from the hedge at the side of the kitchen window. It creeps onto the window frame and into the brickwork and needs to be pushed back every few weeks in the growing season. My face is about a foot from the window as I do this. A robin darts out from the hedge and flies through that small space at eye height. I don’t know which of us got the bigger fright.
Robins have lived in our garden for a few years. You can’t tell the difference between the males and females – at least not at a glance or on a quick fly-past. They have the same colouring. A few minutes later, he (or she) returns to perch on the ginkgo tree. I see he’s a stunner: gorgeously plump belly, unbelievable long, slender legs and three pointy toes on each foot. More beautiful than last year’s resident. And more twitchy. Or was that just me with my intensity and my secateurs?
I wonder: is this a new generation conceived, hatched and fledged right here in my garden? There is something comforting about lifecycles being played out like this.