Wrote to a friend this morning saying I am never alone in a garden, and, inspired by this thought, how nature companions me, how much I care for what is still unspilt and unharmed in the landscape around me, I went out into the garden and began watering trees in the mild winter sunshine. Unwise because I am very fluey and feverish, should have stayed indoors. But lying in bed awake and brooding over past mishaps and culpabilities is a trap for the unwary mind, and my thoughts drove me out to water pots of herbs and watch the leaves of small indigenous trees turn wet and shining in the spray from a garden hose. Happiness, to see the small white-eyes and weaver birds dashing back and forth in the water, the excitement of soaking earth full of earthworms and insects scuttling about, lizards darting through grass, the snails glistening like mottled stones in a stream.
Came back ondoors breathless and shivery, put on an old dressing gown with frayed sleeves and began reheating chicken soup, my panacea for almost any illness. As I wait for the homemade soup full of vegetables and chicken to warm up, I am reading the poet Tom Clark:
Sacrificing to the limiting demands of the opus
is no way to start your day. The opus
itself is like a kind of canvas, with what
has not really been lived through, only idly imagined,
splattered more or less randomly
upon it. The frigging fjords
are no place to build your birdnest of dreams.
The instructions on the brain kit mean zilch.
The dreams are found there in the fjords ab ovo.
The ocean moves deeply in these dreams,
creating dark spots in the encephalogram
into which terror and the desire for beauty swim.
Consciousness — that terror and the desire for beauty — may be painful at times and yet there is no other way to live, no better way to live. Fatigue and sickness, distress, the dark shadow of past memories, all these will pass and I shall know they have entered my awareness, that they are part of me, but that the sunlight of the spirit is just beyond, somewhere near the wet shining tree full of birds, the warmth and brightness of deferred possibilities that may return when I least expect it. And in the meantime there is chicken soup.