Sunday, 19 May 2019

Attic Trunk


Dear Reader,






Dear Reader,

I asked a couple of fairly new and lovely friends for coffee this week from the same village that I live in.  We talked in general terms about holidays we had been on, Brexit, and exchanged ideas and experiences of dementia.  But it wasn't until the visit was nearly at its end that we discussed our respective families.  I asked them about their children, how many they had and what did they do.  And they asked me about mine.  It was all very interesting and illuminating.  But what we all discovered was that nobody else ever asked us these questions.  I once travelled up to Stratford with a new friend and although I asked her about her children, she didn't ask me about mine the whole car journey to and from Stratford. This is very strange, I think and know now why we like our old friends best, the ones who know our history and what is precious to us. 

                                                                             *




Attic Trunk

Searching through her mother's attic trunk
she recognised a dusty, broken cricket bat,
saw a tiny knotted shawl that must have shrunk
and a youthful photo of Aunt Dora, looking fat.
She found silver shoes wrapped in a crimson gypsy skirt
and a purple box housing a worn-thin wedding ring,
a Spanish fan trimmed with lace, and a grandad shirt
embracing faded love letters, tied with ageing string.
From sepia postcards she studied unknown folk,
and pulled out, lovingly, a greasy-tweed cloth cap,
her father's penny whistle, a badger carved from oak,
and brass rubbings, rolled up in a parchment map.
Precious things we keep are candles on our life's tree,
their discovery tells secret stories, provides a key.


                                                                               *

With very best wishes, Patricia


Sunday, 12 May 2019

Loss




Dear Reader,

It was announced this week that an archaeological treasure had been found in England during road widening works in Essex, between Aldi supermarket and a pub. Do you remember dear reader when I wrote about Richard III's bones that were found under a car park in Leicester two years ago?

Well this treasure, found under the supermarket, is what archaeologists believe to be the earliest Christian royal tomb ever unearthed in the UK.  The site  at Prittlewell, near Southend, discovered in 2003, has uncovered a trove of artifacts providing an unrivalled snapshot of Anglo-Saxon England at the end of the sixth century.  In the chamber they found an ornate lyre, a painted box and a flagon thought to have come from Syria, and gold foil crosses.  The body (possibly King Seaxa) had been laid in a wooden coffin with  small gold foil cross over each eye. The box in the tomb is the only surviving example of painted Anglo-Saxon woodwork in Britain.

Sophie Jackson, the museum's director of research said: "It's a really interesting time when Christianity is sort of creeping in and this is all possibly before Augustine sent his mission to Britain to convert the country to Christianity, so they would have been just on the transition between having pagan burials with all your gear but also having these crosses."

                                                                             *


Loss

The old woman
totters slowly down the path,
holding her hand we
go into the field
pick daffodils and buttercups,
spring is on its way.

Later in the kitchen
she tries to say something, to find words
which seem to flutter away,
escape her, but she manages:
"I don't live
in this house, I live elsewhere."

She lies down on the sofa.
"I like looking at the sky" she murmurs,
and closing her eyes she falls asleep.
I kiss her on her pale, cold cheeks,
and weep  .......

                                                                            *

With very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 5 May 2019

Small Pleasures in Old Age



Dear Reader,

From Dorothy Wordsworth's journal, 1820, May 5th, Westmorland

"A sweet morning .......The small birds are singing, lambs bleating, cuckow (sic) calling, the thrush sings by fits, Thomas Ashburner's axe is going quietly (without passion) in the orchard, hens crackling, flies humming, the women talking together at their doors, plum and pear trees are in blossom - apple trees greenish."

From Francis Kilvert's diary, l870, May 9th, Radnorshire

"The turtles were trilling softly and deeply in the dingles as I went up the steep orchard.  The grass was jewelled with cowslips amd orchises (sic).  The dingle was lighted here and there with wild cherry, bird cherry, the Welsh name of which being interpreted is 'the tree on which the devil hung his mother'.  The mountain burned blue in the hot afternoon."

Our weather has been so strange lately hasn't it?  Easter weekend was so hot and lovely, and now I am back in my winter clothes, vest and all.  And the heating is on again!.

                                                                               *

Small Pleasures in Old Age

Listening to Mozart's Andante
in front of a log fire

hearing the robin's call
in early spring
spotting the first violets, first primroses

walking in the woods
sitting under the trees
whilst the bagpipe utters

their unique spiritual sounds
watching the deer hurrying
through the undergrowth

following the antics
of the Archer family
eating peanut butter sandwiches

watching the goldfinch spitting
out seeds, and laughing
at the absurdity of life itself

exchanging family news
proudly loving the grandchildren
and their stories

small away holidays
with Francis, by the sea
in Dorset

And, perhaps, most of all
not saying yes to things
when I mean no

                                                                      *

With very best wishes, Patricia