Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Midsummer Changes

The end of June already! When I was naught but a wee sapling of a lass, sighing my way through long summer days, victim to the kind of ennui that left me draped and sighing over kitchen counters, repeatedly telling the uncaring world that I was bored, as only young people can do, I used to think that my parents were mocking me when they spiritedly replied that the days weren't long, time moved swiftly and I needed to catch it. 

"Time speeds up as you get older," they'd say. 

To which I would give the kind of scorning snort that, again, only young people can do, and remove myself, with all the appearance of carrying the weight of the world, to drape and sigh over the sofa, dreaming of the day when I would escape the small town/village (whatever it was we were living in at the time) and LIFE would be slow but interesting and full and I would squeeze every last drop from it. 

Frankly, how my parents refrained from smacking some sense into me or, at the very least, sending me up some chimneys to earn a living and count my blessings, I do not know. 

Of course, we all know how this story ends. The drooping youngster grows up, leaves home and discovers that her days are a little too full and what she wouldn't give for some draping and sighing right now (she'd give even more to be that size 10 again, but that's a story for another day, or another therapist). 

This is the long winded way of saying that I've been busy once again this month. Not so many trips here-there-and-back-again, but with deadlines and meetings and training courses to run and funding bids to write. But it seemed less interesting to just write "gosh, hasn't time flown!" when we all know that it has. To any teenagers reading this, dally your way through these days my friends, savour them. 

N was officially redundanted (no spellcheck, I will not correct that - I like the sound of it) and is now spending his days pottering around the garden, planting plants, taking cuttings, potting up more plants, staking beans and generally enjoying his time. Sometimes he takes a pad of graph paper and pencils and practises his landscape drawing in preparation for his MA in September. Every night he cooks. I could get used to this house-husband business. 

The Kid has been over several times, staying with us between shifts and for birthday celebrations. He is restful company. Calmer after the trauma of last year recedes and its teeth are less sharp in his memory. He also wants to go back to uni, but not until next year, to study anthropology. It's fair to say the care sector has knocked the stuffing out of him and where once he really wanted to change the system, make it better, he now can't wait to be out for his own sanity. Job searches are ongoing. 

I celebrated Midsummer and the New Moon quietly. The Moon has moved into Cancer so we are officially in my birthday month. I'm taking my foot off the pedal just a little so I have time to savour this one as I move closer to 50 than 40 and wonder what, if anything, this ageing business means. 

I suspect we are being made to feel as though it should mean a bigger deal than it actually does. Yes, the hair greys, the skin creases like velvet and new bits ache where they didn't ache before, but those aren't the important bits. The important bits are the wisdom that we pick up, polish and store about our person, small gold coins of experience and knowledge that we use to pay our way forward. They don't make us infallible, but they help us find a centre in this world. 

There are plans to meet with friends this weekend and the other week, I caught up with an old colleague and friend to catch up, show off the garden and allotment, and generally have a gossip so long and joyous, my jaw fairly ached by the end of it. The joy of good friends is something to savour too. 

A couple of times I've taken myself off to the library to work: there is something soothing about the sound of tea spoons against coffee cups and the low murmur of voices that don't require an answer from me. On my first visit, a disgruntled foursome were milling around a table. 

"All she said was the room was taken."
"We can't go downstairs, there are children. They will make a noise."
"I'll ask this nice man."

There is a pause and much sotto voce grumbling from the remaining 3, who cling to the backs of their chairs as though they fear a fight to keep them. I'm aware without looking up that the occasional dark glance is aimed in my direction.

"But will she complain?"
"Hush Geoffrey."
"It's alright everyone. This nice young man [I can feel the heat of his blush from over at my table] has said we can!"

There is a chorus of "splendid!" and "oh well done!" and as the first sounds start coming from their antiquated laptop, I realise that what they fear I'll complain about is their conducting a very loud German lesson 2 tables away from me. So I shot them a dark look in the best British passive-aggressive fashion and put my ear phones in.  

Obviously, while I was there, I grabbed a couple of books to read once I got home. The superlative Mrs Death Misses Death and the utterly moving 10 Minutes, 38 Seconds in this Strange World. I picked them up and read them from cover to cover, moving from bed to sofa to bath to sofa to bed without pause, eating one handed and putting a post-it note on my head that read "can't talk, reading." Both books have stayed with me for a long time afterwards, the threads of the stories running through my days like a child's streamer, bright and commanding attention. Of course, I've now got my own copies so I can return to them again and again. These are books to return to. 

Tomorrow, I am in Birmingham for a meeting, fitting in a visit to the Ikon gallery before coming back for another meeting. In the evening, I shall take a long New Moon bath and let my slide towards the weekend commence. 

How was your June?


  1. What a fantastic post, I loved every word. Oh yes, the ennui of being a teenager. My two eldest have just finished exams and have literally weeks and weeks of it stretching in front of them. The youngest said to me yesterday about his eldest brother, 'But what does he DO all day?'

    Also busy here and wishing for some sighing and draping time, or at least ten minutes reading in the sunshine. Just not that season of my life right now though, which is fine. I did some new moon thinking yesterday, and am all poised for renewed productivity and forward momentum in the writing department. N's garden life sounds very fine indeed and that flowery corner is beautiful and VERY welcoming. I absolutely love working in the library, it's like nowhere else. All the hush and the stage whispers and the light sounds of wood on wood. Everyone doing important things with words. Wonderful. Hope you have a lovely weekend. CJ xx

    1. It's amazing how much nothing you can fit into a day when you're that age! I would not want to be a teenager again for all the time in the world.
      N's done an amazing job with a patch of ground that was initially very bare and blank. Now there are lots of little welcoming patches. That one is where my hammock goes, so I'm very partial to it.
      There is nothing finer than the slightly academic but also industrious and unhurried air of a library. Love it.
      Hope you've had a splendid weekend too Txx

  2. I loved this post. I felt like I was sat on your sofa with a cuppa and you were telling me all about your month, wonderful. Thank you for sharing. I loved your description of being a teenager and again of growing old, storing wisdom and knowledge to pay forward so true, delightful descriptions.

    1. Thank you :) Someone once said that I write like I talk, which seemed to me to be the highest compliment, even if she didn't think it was. The privilege of growing old, as hard as it may be, is just as full of promise as being young - sometimes, when the bones are particularly creaky, I need to remind myself.


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Of the Before and the After

The Potting Shed by Lore Pemberton.  On my Christmas  wish list, Click on the image to get to her website. I had planned to pop on here and ...