Old News

I wrote this post last July, but it needs a home. Here is as good a place to live as any other. 

I took the dog to my favourite place tonight. It’s been a while. Everything is overgrown and the grass is dry; going to seed, as if summer has been and gone without me even noticing. 

The beautiful buds of the gorse bushes have gone, leaving dry brown carcasses hanging like row after row of empty chrysalides. The life has gone, taking with it the fleeting beauty that I’ve loved since I was a little girl. The scent of the gorse bush remains one of my favourite scents.

The hedgerows are laden with the delicate flowers of the bramble, and as I sweep my eyes across them I can see tight little nubs of tiny green blackberries beginning to form. And it fills me full of longing – the cooler days, strolling with buckets in hand collecting pints of plump, juicy blackberries. Hands and lips stained purple, children crying out with happiness, shouts for home made ice cream and meringues. 

It leaves me nostalgic for my own childhood when my parents would make jam, the kitchen thick with the cloying scent of slowly rotting fruit. The clatter of fresh oven-hot jars ready to be filled with the bubbling mixture, teaspoons coated with jam to test the setting point and left discarded. 

I walked and walked, through a field full of wild poppies, bedraggled and windswept in all their delicacy. The red petals were a stark contrast to the grey evening. 

It has rained so much that the water is flowing in the ditches and the most noticeable thing is the lack of smell. There’s something so absorbing about the smell of stagnant water, so ripe and fetid it’s almost comforting.

I’m home now, sitting with a glass of Rioja and looking out onto the garden. The dog pants softly at my feet. I can see the raspberry canes – some peeking over the six foot fence into the neighbours garden, others so laden with fruit the canes are drooped and falling. As I contemplate retying them I am reminded of sitting in the same spot, mid February and looking at the raspberries – mere knobbled twigs no more than 2 foot high, stark, minimalistic, hard – everything winter is, and I am hit hard in the gut with the reminder that everything has its season. To see the raspberries now, thick with foliage and heavy with fruit – some a candy pink that wouldn’t look out of place on the lips of a 16 year old girl and others the deepest burgundy, over-ripe and somewhat reminiscent of blood – you couldn’t link it to a single spoke of fragile wood rooted into the hard winter soil. 

My thoughts turn to a friend, who after losing her son 3 months ago is going through the toughest season of her life. It’s so hard to watch her, fragile and broken. She is winter personified. But I hold tight to the knowledge that summer will come once more. 

It has to. 

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