30 December 2011

Grief and Joy

A strange and surreal week. Grief and joy. The latter at a son's return from Canada for Christmas (welcome home cm); the former at a brother's loss.

The fire was lit, friends and family came around: there was a sort of battening down of the hatches, a determination to enjoy the festive season, and many thanks to those who made that possible -- you know who you are!

And we got out in the open from time to time - restorative walks in woods and by the sea. Dreary weather lightened up a few times and a winter sun in a blue sky caught the tops of pale ash tree limbs. In the same woods, we discovered this horseshoe now enveloped by a slow-moving tide of bark... must have been there for quite a while.

Down by the sea, Izzy and I took shelter from the wind on what's normally the windward side of the pier, but not this day - the wind was whipping down from the northeast and the harbour was filled with leaping white horses. On the other side of the pier we found these lichens, one of them grown quite large (note the mini schnauzer for scale). I got a present of a book on lichens for Christmas (thanks dm!) and hope to learn what these are, but for now I simply enjoy the look of them...

Not much work in the garden of course, in this weather, at this season. But I still wanted to be out there - those who love gardening will know it can be healing just to be in the garden, and to be doing, no matter how mundane the task. The day after my brother died, I spent the morning in the garden and the greenhouse, simply tidying up - the last of the Molinia cut back, the pondlets cleared of leaves, some desultory weeding of Carex pendula. I brought one plant into the garden about 12 years ago and I'm now resigned to never being without it. But in its defence I have to say that it gracefully provided years of enduring cover while there were two big labradors crashing around the garden. And it required nothing in return. If I have to weed it out now, well I reckon it's not a bad bargain for the years when I wasn't able to garden as much as I wanted due to the needs of two growing sons and a full-time job.

Also while in the garden, I cut some ivy for the basket I made for my brother: ivy from my garden, holly from our da's garden, yellow and orange flowers for the moon and sun--which he loved--and pine cones from one of my morning walks for his love of the outdoors.

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