A small miracle before breakfast. A young lemoenduif, what we call here a lemon turtledove flew into the kitchen and I saw it crouching on the windowsill, trapped against the closed window. Without thinking, still blinking the sleep out of my eyes, I went over, opened the window with one hand, picked up the unprotesting dove in my other hand, held the little bird out into the morning air and released it. A wild bird, unafraid of me, my confidence in what I was doing. And the memory of doing this before when I was a child, able to call wild creatures to me and hold them.
Dream fragment: I was going down to a holiday house on the coast in the hopes of warding off a looming breakdown and asked a friend for a lift. All the way down to the coast we sang the Teddy Bear Picnic song.
If you go down to the woods today
You’d better not go alone
I was afraid that when I was there in the tiny fisherman’s cottage facing the sea, the loneliness would be too much for me. But it was a school holiday and when we arrived, there were several families, children carrying buckets and spades, parked cars and sailing boats. A former work colleague came up to greet me, I was wearing a child’s pinafore and unsure why I hadn’t changed my clothes. I showed him a graphics comic of Spiderman. He looked at the inked signature and date (29 May, 1965) and told me the comic belonged to someone else.
How the twentieth century flies away from us who were born then — Neil Armstrong, who became the first human being from earth to walk on the moon, dead at 82. Another giant leap or small step into infinity.
Reading an appreciation of the Welsh poet Dannie Abse who titled his latest book Goodbye Twentieth Century. His memory of growing up both Welsh and Jewish:
“My mother knew many things. She could speak Welsh as well as English, Yiddish as well as Welsh. Some of the ‘wise’ sayings from Welsh and Yiddish she loosely translated into English. I know them still — but I am not quite sure, even now, which proverbs are Welsh, which Yiddish.”
Her son remembers this remarkable amalgam of the Welsh and Jewish celebrating a wartime festival very different from their customary jolly family occasions:
“But April 1st 1942, only my father my mother and I sat down to the rationed evening meal. And instead of a Seder ceremony my mother lit two candles, put her hands over her face and mouthed a prayer silently. Then she said out loud, ‘Next year may there be Peace in the world and all the family be together again.’ That night no door was opened for the invisible angel and the flames on the two candles did not tremble but continued to stand up straight like two small, yellow, clown hats.”