Going out into the garden and seeing it through the eyes of others, an unkempt African garden, thickets for native birds, unwatered lawn that I am trying to lose, subdued greys and browns and dull greens. Not a cultivated pocket handkerchief. Usually this doesn’t bother me. I plant waterwise and the garden thrives on benevolent neglect.
But I am not talking about the garden, I am talking about pride and wanting to control others’ perceptions of me — something one can do through words but not through real-life images. Photographs don’t lie, even styled or cropped. They show what is there, untidy, dusty, of its time and place. A small part of me struggles to accept the reality of all that cannot be transformed by the charm of language. Ageing. Tiredness. A garden contrived by clever planting but not much money. A cottage that needs to be repainted.
Magic wearing thin.
To stay closer to the truth of lived reality when I write. Ula so tired and unwell, the dog unable to get comfortable on his bed in the kitchen, cracks in stoep walls and along the brick paths. An imperfect process, all of it. So deeply cherished, the friendships, the garden-making, the loving and focus of hard work, and all the slightly ecstatic hope sobriety has given me. Reaching for the impossible and wanting the truth to make its home in my daily existence.
A small brown house sparrow in the shadow of a scarlet double petalled hibiscus, very much there but unshowy. Terrible photograph even when explained.