When does night end and the day start? Is it with the sunrise, or with ritual and routine? I’m greedy for more light, so I’m counting it as the day beginning when I get up. So come with me in your imagination to the real world behind Westerham and Windy Bay and Lavender House and Oldcastle and Harbourside and even Christians Cross.
It’s 5-10 so it’s still dark outside. The last remnants of Storm Jocelyn are still blowing, and the world has that strange stillness as if it’s getting ready for something. I like to think that it’s getting ready for me to have a good day as I make English muffins with rich crumbly creamy Caerphilly cheese that I bought from the farmers market yesterday for breakfast and teatime and put the minced beef I bought at the same time and onions and beer into the slow cooker to make a lovely gungy mixture to have with jacket potatoes and carrots and beans and leeks and broccoli and cauliflower after our walk because then it'll be ready for me when I get back, all cold and windblown and red cheeked.
The first load of washing finishes while I do this so I sort it into ‘has a chance of drying outside’ and ‘into the tumble dryer with you.’ It’s followed by a white load and I’ll do the same with that and then start the dryer. Am I the only person who still does this? I’m not fussed if I am, because at this time of the year it’s a wordless promise to myself that winter is receding. Not gone, because these’s still February to go before official spring and that’s a sneaky month. But there’s a gap in the weather at the moment even if it has been windy and showery so I’ve been able to get out for walks and I shall today and even knowing that does something to reset my soul. I was born within easy reach of the sea and the hills in Wales so that may be why they’re part of my soul, but my Purbeck Hills and the shallow wide expanse of Poole Harbour are ‘my’ hills now. I’ll happily share them with everyone else who appreciates them but something deep, deep, deep inside me responds to the sight of them and to the open bumpy tussocky grass of Harbourside Park.
But that lies ahead. Right now, I have my mug of herb tea (lemon and ginger today) and I don’t need a coat as I slip my outdoor clogs on and head out into the garden. As I’ve said before, it’s only a little garden but it’s fun to play in and gardening mainly in pots gives it flexibility, as well as a LOT of potting on to do. This year, I spent my Christmas money on some lovely coloured pots in various sizes which have the most amazing drainage. They’ve got a grid in the bottom of them instead of holes and last summer I tested two plants alongside each other. One in my normal pots and one in a Happybase as they’re called. The Happybase one is two inches taller and much bushier and I must be daft because I find myself apologising to the other one as I pass it. It’s not that it hasn’t grown well, but the other one is better, and we all know what that feels like, don’t we?
But not right not. Right now I go out in the dark and look up at the stars while I sip my scaldingly hot tea and run through what I want to do today in my head. Sometimes, I wrap up warm and make it a quick session. Other times, it’s the height of summer and I’m out there working in the glorious cool and quiet. Today it’s cool and breezy but I'm out there long enough to feel a communion with the world. Not the busy bustling world that I can’t be a full part of any more, but the world beneath it which may well be the real world.
The bird wake in their roosts, as they always do when they hear me. The blackbirds and robins come down because they know that I’ll bring mealworm with me and keep the cats away. My eyes have adapted to the darkness now, so I don’t need to use my torch to fill the bird table that my daughter made from a kit she got for her fifth birthday. That’s a long time ago now and the roof is all covered with spiky tendrils of moss and I note that I’ll need to replace the string.
I'm inside now and as I type, I realise that the wind is getting up again so I’d better nip round and close the windows and doors because I don’t want the curtain to send my mug of tea flying. Can you wait for me while I do it? I promise I won’t be long…Back now, and sorry about that. Now outside is firmly outside and dark again and inside you can smell the hint of ginger tea and food cooking and ‘winter blues’ in the diffuser, which is a sharp, almost citrusy blend with a hint of the sea, and a hint of the wind that was blowing briskly across the peninsula where I live.
Soon, it will be light enough early enough that I’ll see the swans and geese flying over the house on their route between Holes Bay and the Harbour or the Park. I’ll hear the whumpf, whumpf of swans wings and marvel at what a wonderful world it is while I provide meal worms for the hedgehogs. But today it is late January so I’ll enjoy my inside world as the electric candles in their old glass candlesticks flicker gently to fight the dark. The house is aired. The jobs are done. I’m going to get down to work. I have a square of my Christmas chocolate. It’s dark and rich and intense and reminds me of the night…
So thank you for sharing this time with me. Most people don’t understand my love of the early morning. That’s fine. Maybe you’re a sunset person. I like those too, but morning is a new start and I always prefer beginnings to endings. So I hope you have a good week and we’ll meet again on Wednesday.
Till then, here’s a picture of the bit of my back garden right outside the back door. Please excuse the pile of new pots. It’s a work in progress, but that’s okay. So’s my life and like I say, beginnings are better than endings and they always tend to be a bit messy, don’t they?