A reflection from late autumn finally posted in the chill of early January. Call it late, call it a symptom of these new year days and pandemic years, when time seems to slip and slide and leave you grasping.
I’m not sure if this moment is full on autumn, or the first bite of winter. We left town for the hills one Sunday. Clocks claimed it was mid-afternoon but the oncoming dark made it hard to place, hard to shake the sense of enclosing night. Given the hour, I say ‘hills’ but really it was ‘hill’. One hill. Height enough to let go every sigh and find the corners of ourselves that the countryside seems to guard in our absence. Our feet found one hill, but maybe it really was ‘hills’. One folds into another, a ridge that you could follow on your way to the Cotswolds, or turn the other way to skirt the edge of London. We stay where we are. On one hill. Eyes resting on another, and finding the pocketed fields below.
We left. Left the warmth, encased ourselves in winter coats (should have been washed before this first wearing?), scarves, hats that didn’t quite keep out the gnaw of the wind on one side. An ear bore the brunt of this foray. Pass indifferent flocks, turn right at the trees and enjoy their shelter before heading up again. A slope that felt gentle but, on turning round, had opened up the sunset sky. Stop. Breathe. Exchange humble notes on this messy and beautiful world.
And yet, I’m ok with it. Ok with the fact that one area of life required, enforced, benefited from almost full-time attention for a season. And we are learning to be kind to ourselves. Empty the diary and fill the fridge with tasty, easy food. It’s ok to stop baking bread, to get takeout one more time this month, to cancel or say ‘no’, to read all seven Harry Potter books once again (except the end of book five. He was my favourite character; it’s too much). Kindness comes in many forms.
As I write this, a storm of conkers just descended onto the roof of our neighbour’s car and it’s 23 degrees Celsius outside. This is our topsy turvy year of seasons encapsulated.
Summer 2018 was, in many ways, my dream season. Weeks of bright, bare-footed and loose-armed days. Dinner in the garden every night, finished off with a teapot of homegrown mint tea. Claustrophobic socks left in the drawer. And yet, it was also a mixed bag. A little too hot to function at times; resilience a little fractured once 30 degree days had turned into weeks. And a creeping concern that this is the shape of things to come, the climate change canary in the mine (something I wrote more about here).
And then, at the end of August, summer seemed to suddenly and subtly give way to autumn. Things turned. Fallen leaves. Warm evening air found a chill in its edge. Arms searching their way back into jumpers. And, despite a ridiculous long summer season, I wasn’t quite ready for the change.
The last three months came and went without the usual round up of inspiration. This, then, is a look back on the season as a whole. It seems both apt and reflective of life recently; parts have bled into it (and sometimes taken over) each other, rather than being neatly delineated.
June has been a strange month. Starting with hints of gloriously warm summer days to come, it ended with thunder storms and a return to the wooly jumper. We’ve been exploring landscapes. Walking Devon cliff tops on foot; cycling up the Isle of Wight’s hills to attain a viewpoint of ‘the Needles’ stunning rocky outcrops. Once there, I mostly took photos of nearby rusting metal. Perhaps there’s no accounting for taste.
Reflecting on the past month shows me that April has been about considering perspectives. This round up is a little late as we spent the Bank Holiday weekend back in Northern Ireland, in the area where I grew up. Returning there is always refreshing, reminding me it can remain a home, even when I’ve built another here.
An unintended consequence of our house move is that, after all that moving and sorting, it’s actually the small rectangle of space found beyond the back door that draws me most. From our first days in the house, in dry weather (wooly jumpers overcoming the challenges of temperature) I could be found out there, usually sat with the laptop or a good book, a coffee or glass of wine. The impact this small space has had on my well-being has been pleasantly unexpected. Continue reading →
…local coffee shops serving delicious lemon drizzle cake.
…being outside, especially by the sea.
…padding about barefoot in the summer.
This Valentine’s Day the Climate Coalition, which is made up of over 100 organisations including Oxfam and Tearfund, is leading a campaign to raise awareness of how climate change threatens many of the things we love. By wearing a green heart and sharing it with the hashtag #showthelove you can join a nationwide movement demonstrating your concern about climate change and your support for global action. Continue reading →