the Wednesday growls

Blood-red moon




Didn’t see the blood-red full moon this time around — just glowing fragments of hot white between bluish clouds.  Woken at 4am by municipal workers clearing  street gutters of  thickly piled leaves so that when the  streams of water come down in spate from the  dams, the roads won’t flood. I hope the workers  get paid for overtime.


Outside this morning, trimming back a leggy pelargonium when a neighbour  came up and talked about a family tragedy. Usually immaculate, this woman aged overnight, sleepless and  haggard, out walking an elderly  blind dog, hoarse from weeping, her jacket crumpled. I forget sometimes how a sudden death is like an incendiary  bomb thrown into a family. Estrangement, people deranged with grief and shock,  cruel things said,  ultimatums and threats, old wounds torn open.


Afterwards,  going on with my  early morning gardening, I thought  of a therapist telling me years ago that each of us needs to begin  facing the reality of death,  thinking about death, dealing with our cultural denial of death, so that when we sit in the doctor’s surgery and hear that death is near or  get a phone call with  news of  a sudden death, we have somewhere to start, we have  some  place to begin grieving rather than raging. Life is unfair perhaps, but that is because ‘fairness’ is too often all about  believing ourselves to be exceptions to the human condition and somehow safe from suffering  or dying. Until it happens.


What  it must feel like to  have to express yourself in a foreign language, to  have to forget your own mother tongue in order to  be heard. Since I began  doing translation work, so slow and fumbling at times, I have boundless respect for  migrants, asylum-seekers, refugees finding a foot hold in a new country,  facing the impatience and  ignorance of the monolingual, the loneliness of the misunderstood, the  silence and uncertainty of  standing between languages.  Reading a review of  Agota Kristof’s  memoir about growing up as a refugee from Soviet-occupied Hungary and trying to adjust to life in French-speaking Switzerland:

Locating her life’s start at the point she learns to read aged four, Kristof describes, with immaculately condensed acuity, being driven by poverty and misunderstanding, by the assault of the occupier on her country’s cultural and intellectual life, and by the loss of her family and people, into an everlasting exile from every writer’s closest ally, their mother tongue. For, far from being an aesthetic rejection of her own language, Kristof’s decision to write in French was made through necessity, publication in Hungarian abroad being all but impossible, and any return to her homeland likely to result in death or incarceration. Her pain at banishing this most essential part of herself is excruciating, as are the years of enforced illiteracy that follow, until she masters enough French to be able to read and write again.


And here in the mountains, I have the decreasing pile of work on my desk, a  fiction draft to revise (my treat for the afternoon), the autumn wind biting cold even in soft brilliant sunshine.


The week going on, each day’s particular shape and interest, the  hard work and opportunities,  new competencies,  stumbling blocks, engaging with friends and family, housekeeping chores, shared suppers, laughter over supper, waking from troubled dreams,  staying up to finish a novel and  then going to the wind to  glimpse the moon high and broken up by clouds.


From wood s lot


“The Tuesday scowls, the Wednesday growls, the Thursday curses, the Friday howls, the Saturday snores, the Sunday yawns, the Monday morns, the Monday morns. The whacks, the moans, the cracks, the groans, the welts, the squeaks, the belts, the shrieks, the pricks, the prayers, the kicks, the tears, the skelps, and the yelps.”

- Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot



Time dashing past

Taking on perhaps too many projects for winter, juggling time, thinking up fiction in the bath and scribbling notes to myself as I make toast in the kitchen.  A whirligig of  phone calls,  priority emails, deadlines on the horizon.


But the season takes its time in changing, will not be hurried, the wheel of time slowly cycling — our Indian summer has finally broken and we have chilly grey skies and a sharp wind, leaves falling down in great brown armfuls.


“When you sit in silence long enough, you learn that silence has a motion. It glides over you without shape or form, exactly like water. Its color is silver. And silence has a sound you hear only after hours of wading inside it. The sound is soft, like flute notes rising up, like the words of glass speaking. Then there comes a point when you must shatter the blindness of its words, the blindness of its light.”
 - Anne Spollen
The Shape of Water
bufflehead cabin


Friends are leaving the village and as I said the first of many goodbyes to  a much-loved couple, she  beckoned to me and  showed me a great array of hand-thrown ceramic platters, bowls, oven dishes and vases made by a  well-known ceramicist or potter in the north of the country. An unexpected and  very  special gift.

An organist down the road practising Bach and Faure for Holy Week services, that rippling beautiful music. Walking past with a notebook under  my arm, a stack of library books in my old linen bag, I pause to listen and for a little time just stops. That deep pool in the  heart of life, a place we  find  without  knowing we were looking for it.  In a year or even a month, I’ll have forgotten the  deadlines, the rush, the  busyness and  hurry, the  niggles or worries. What I’ll remember is standing here  on this quiet  road  under leafless oaks, listening to Faure’s Requiem and  holding the moment open like a  wide welcoming door.