Friday, 3 July 2009

Little jewels

It has been a flat, dull day today. The weather has broken, taking away most of the sunshine and with it my sunny mood.

But the dog still has to be walked, whatever the weather.
Not in the mood for anything out of the ordinary, I headed out on our normal weekday walk.

Over the years, this route has been taken several times a week by either R or myself or, best of all, both of us together. Practically every inch of the three-mile circuit is familiar to me. I know the badgers' sett excavated beneath a hedge, the smell of which drives Moose wild, and the trees with nesting rooks that always mob the buzzards as they fly past. A few weeks ago we welcomed back the agile swifts to their precarious nest beside the church bell. I can quickly find the best stretches of sloes or blackberries, and know which bank will suddenly sprout chanterelles when the sun comes out after a day of rain.

This lane was where we talked. Really talked to one another. It was where we planned our big ideas, smiled at the goings-on in friends' lives and worked out any little differences we had between us. And about half-way round, there was a gate where we usually stopped and leaned upon it to admire the view and reflect on how lucky we were to live in this beautiful place. It was the last walk we ever had together.

Today as I walked up the hill I found a little patch of wild strawberries and couldn't resist picking some to bring home. In my old life, these first red berries would be a source of joy. The little bombs of flavour punch way above their weight. When fully ripe and after a couple of days of sunshine on the fruits, one tiny ball fills the mouth with essence of rosewater on top of the strawberry perfume.

R loved them and at this time of year never left the house without a bag in his pocket for collecting them. If he was working away, I would pick some so he could have them with vanilla icecream when he arrived home on a Friday night.
My hand smells sweetly of candyfloss after holding them. And it makes me think of him.

The lane is the perfect indicator for the passing of the seasons. The strawberries were preceded by the elderflowers and will give way to blackberries, blackberries to parasol mushrooms, and then to sloes. And so on until the new year starts the cycle again.

Another calendar.

Another way of ticking off the days and weeks and months without him.


  1. i deeply feel your mood. i'm in a similar one. but your words describing your walk give me an image to hold onto. no words, or sights, of my walk in this city of concrete can give me the rural countryside that you have.

    i miss the ocean. i loathe the passing of time that takes me further away from the last time i was with him. or maybe it is bringing me closer to being with him again. not sure how to look at it tonight.

    though you and i are each alone, in some way i am with you and i hope that you are with me. we are two lonely souls listening to time tick away. i wish for both of us a quieter clock and peace of some kind.

  2. that post really touched me J. WHY oh why do we insist on counting EVERYTHING???? Even when we realize that it makes us sadder ... it was a beautiful post - I almost felt as though I had been there!

  3. Today is day 77 without my husband, and here in Venice, CA it is the day of fireworks celebrating our countries birth.

    I yelled at my oldest twice, retreated to my office for four hours and let the younger two watch and play too many video games.

    I hadn't a clue why I was so untouchable till I read your post. It's not the big things. It's the little ones, like the picnic we packed and walked with to the Fisherman's Wharf to watch the fire works. It was a simple evening, relaxing, cool by the water. The kids shared and talked and played silly games. My husband and I shared a bottle of wine.

    I am learning it's not the big events that make loss so difficult, its the tiny, almost non-descript ones that cause me to spiral. Well crap!

  4. @ WomanNShadows: I have never lived near the sea, but whenever I go to the coast I understand so well what draws people to it. You can lose yourself watching the rhythm of the waves and on the darkest days that seems like such a desirable thing to do.
    I hope you are able to go back to your beach soon.

    @ Boo: I don't understand the counting either, but it seems impossible to stop the compulsion.

    "For I have known them all already, known them all:
    Have known the mornings, evenings, afternoons,
    I have measured out my life in coffee spoons."

  5. @ Kim: I am so sorry for your loss. 77 days is such a short time; it must be so difficult watching the celebrations going on around you. I hope you get through the day intact.

    We didn't have children. At times this is a great source of sadness to me, but other times it has been a relief to be able to be entirely selfish in my grief and retreat into myself whenever I have needed to.

    I totally understand the need to feel untouchable, to build up a hard shell around yourself to protect against any more hurt. It was months before I could really talk about how I feel, and I'm still much better doing it with the written word, rather than the spoken.

    And it is so much the little things - and it is still crap.

  6. i had to reply again. i am in the middle of you, J, and Kim. i have children but they are adults. i am alone most of the time, all of the time. my daughter helps as much as she can but i released her from "babysitting" me on this day of, as Kim says, fireworks and celebrations. i'm going no where. seeing no one. i'm quilting, but setting aside time to work on my own husband quilt. i cried after i got the money for the first finished quilt while my own is still sitting there but i needed the money so much.

    today, i will spend some time on mine. i need to because it is the only time i feel the smallest amount of peace. touching his clothes.

    Kim, i'm not that much further along than you. Boo, i count as well and it is the most painful thing to do. can't stop though.

    J, i smile while typing this but i still think we should all, someday, next year, the year after, someday, meet at your place and then all get in the car and drive to the ocean. we should stand on the cliffs as one community and make our thanks and condolences to the setting sun.

    ah, well, it's an image i hang in my mind when i am at my most lonely..

  7. WomanNShadows: You would be very welcome here. There is not a lot going on, but it is a peaceful place and that is always healing for a sad heart.

  8. Your beautiful post is full of reminders of life here at our farm too. For the past couple of weeks, the trails have been a blaze with the flowers of hawkweed. The wild strawberries were at their peak about a week ago. We picked strawberries too, and they are just as you have described, down to the scent they would leave on our hands. Last year at this time, Don was still able to walk around the farm, but I had set out several lawn chairs at rest spots along the trails. I remember picking berries for him while he sat and watched from a chair at the edge of the woods. It wasn't too long after that that he wasn't able to go walking anymore. This year, the strawberries seem to have taken on some new significance as a marker of that point when life really began to change for both of us.

  9. Bev: These memories are so bitter-sweet, aren't they? Your farm sounds beautiful, and I love the sound of the trails taking you to secret places. Despite the momentary sadness they bring, I wouldn't be without these memories. As time goes by, they make me smile more than cry. I hope it is the same for you.