Out in the garden my lemons are ripening on the tree, the old Eureka variety with their very yellow thick bumpy skins (great for zesting). Picked four ripe lemons and came inside with them, noting how they brightened an old handcarved wooden bowl on the scrubbed kitchen table.
A high wind for Pentecost and I could hear the choir practising Veni Spiritus Sanctus as I alked past the Catholic church high on the hill. Come, Holy Spirit, the image of flame and desire, new dissonant languages breaking loose in the market place, tongues of white flame hovering above the heads of the speakers. Babel, but with meaning and radiant with unseen power.
Waking this morning from a deep intriguing dream of art and poems written on canvas (a gift from Sallie?), I thought ‘dreams deeper than rock’ and could feel the adamant rock splitting open and water gushing like quicksilver. Turned over and fell back into sleep.
Said goodbye to the women of our liberation theology group, handing around plates of sliced banana loaf and trying to give a good reason for going ‘across the water’ and leaving the Mother of Abundance, sweet Africa, even briefly.
Setting out clothes with some dismay because I only realise how shabby and unflattering my practical comfortable everyday wear is when I have to go in among strangers. Laughing a little at myself.
Nausea and stomach cramps, so had hot water and lemon, lay down under the duvet, listening to the strong wind. How thin the veil between worlds at this time of year, a thin gritty veil scarcely separating life and death — it is Mothers’ Day and I thought of my own alcoholic mother with great compassion, less torment than at this time last year.
When I got up again, there was sunlight and I could go out into the garden, pick mint and thyme for a herbal infusion. That happy peasant instinct I have always had to go outdoors and chew grasses or leaves when I feel ill. Respect for wilde als (the indigenous Artemisia), an African salvia, the bitter leaves of a small filigreed Jackman’s Blue rue. And the hot infusion was pleasant and eased my stomach.
A new neighbour coming up to ask about my trip and the possibility of a lift scheme in the future. The dog barking for attention, but he does not understand dogs, is not a country person, I could see that at a glance.
Going inside to play Vivaldi as I cleaned the kitchen and fed the dog. Noting that the garlic must be used up before I go, the coriander too. Una coming in to see how I am doing, a quick hug. Emailing a grieving friend and willing him to come through this with his spirit intact. Calling members of my AA group and listening to the litany of daily frustrations common to all of us and unique in how they impact on us in specific ways. Paying attention, lightly, but no distractions, just listening and responding. Being there right in the togetherness and letting self slip away like a passing whim.
Call from my sometime sponsor who is busy being a professional alcoholic-in-recovery working at a treatment centre and spouting pop-psychology, but still with that infectious giggle. She has no time now for AA meetings herself, she is too busy making sure her inhouse patients are confronted with their ‘massive denial’. Most of them, in my humble opinion, don’t want to get sober yet. Nooo, noooo, no. Their parents and employers are sending them to upmarket rehabs but they are involuntary patients, recalcitrant and defiant, so that massive denial is going to stay in place a while yet. Even if they get the ‘I-statements’ off pat.
Remembering my own denial that did not crack open until the day I was finally willing to look at myself hard and admit that my life was a mess. And that sorry excuse for a life was the only life I had.
Now the wind has dropped and most of my goodbyes are said. Clothes washed and ironed. Travel documents checked. Tomorrow evening we will have one last farewell meal, a small but delicious rack of lamb. I am planning peas with mint, roasted butternut with pinenuts. But not looking ahead, just grateful for the here and now, the garden so rich and colourful in autumn, the love of friends, the life that is still messy but in a different kind of way.