Well, the more observant among you may have noticed that I did not post a blog last week. I think I had good enough excuses. Three days in Oxford followed by a four-day retreat in the gorgeous Slad Valley. Bloomin’ ‘eck – enough inter-human contact to last this Cabin-hermit a month or two. I feel like a lion who’s just eaten twenty-seven kilos of buffalo meat. Gonna take a while to digest. Excuse the burbles and gurgles.
Yesterday, though, a friend down in South Africa messaged me enquiring where this week’s blog was. Hmmmmmm. Lazipoetness almost got the better of me. “The dog ate my memory stick,” don’t quite cut it this week. I ain't got a dog, for starts.
So, here goes... freestylin’...
Funny and sweet how much of a seaside dweller I’ve become these last few years. Three days inland and some deep part of my being begins pining for salty air and the Cabin vista. A week inland and I returned – Wednesday night – positively sea-famished.
The Cabin seems to have withstood Storm Ciara, and is now holding Storm Dennis at bay. As I’ve said before, there’s no such thing as a dull day here, living on a hilltop overlooking land and cliff and sea. Or: even dullness contains its ever-shifting misty delight.
Having said that, the rainbows round here bring their own form of delight too. This particular beauty – occasionally doubled – serenaded the land and arched over the Cabin for a good half hour on Thursday. I almost began to take her presence for granted.
I love reacquainting myself with my avian neighbours. Their colours and characters, their pecking order, their feeding habits...
The finches seem happy to plonk themselves on the table chomping away with their finchly beaks, sometimes scoffing a good half dozen at one sitting. The blue tits zoom in – avoiding enemy radar – grab a solitary seed and zoom away. The great tits sometimes pause on one of the adjacent driftwood branches I’ve erected, scoff a seed, nab another and then fly off. One for me, one for... The blackbird is just about top of the daily pecking order – although the robin ain’t too sure about that. I say “the” robin, but actually there are two, often arguing territorial rights with one another. Ain’t seen any of the corvids yet – the magpies and rooks are occasional visitors, although they are as sensitive as racing horses, and even a twitch of my presence glimpsed through the double-glazing sends them flurrying off, not to return for a week or two. Cyril – or Cecily – the squirrel has already put in at least one appearance. Fair play. Usual slapstick routine – let him-her nibble a few seeds and then open the back door and chase him-her off, knowing, full well, that the comedy will recommence at a later date of his-her choosing.
Yesterday I watched two pheasants squaring off in the paddock below – for about an hour or more. It was a very stylised fight sort of dance, or dance sort of fight. Quite elegant at times, heads bowing, bodies arching. And there were a pair of magpies too, shadowing Maggie the Indifferent Mare and her sidekick pony. I suspect the hooves churn up the ground, revealing whatever bits and grubs magpies are partial to.
These little delights mean the world to me. My neighbours! So much pleasure, for so few seeds. Obviously, evolution has done the sums – and flying a return trip of forty metres must be worth the effort for the one little seed clamped in your beak. Imagine being able to fly forty metres on one sunflower seed! I’d neck a whole bag, and I’d be off, happiest man in the world, flying around looking for my Mother Ship.
I was thinking this morning: I am over/through the worst of my breakdown. That’s a remarkable thing to be able to say and share, without touching wood or looking over my shoulder. Sure, I still feel like I need a bit more time – maybe a full four seasons’ worth – in my chrysalis-cocoon, before properly venturing back out into the world. But: I am getting better. Enjoying every day – in the broad sense of the word. Per Dei gratiam. May beauty, grace and joy flow through me – and us all.
Of course: to be properly alive is to be fundamentally vulnerable. And sometimes I shrink from this vulnerability – sometimes many times a day. But ain’t that part of the work? To be intimate with oneself, to allow whatever experience is arising to arise – to be intimate with Life itself? Which inevitably means tracking when I retreat, shrink back, feel uncomfortable, fall back on old habits, withdraw my best presence, defend myself...
Was feeling a bit itchy scritchy and contracted this morning, didn’t quite know why. Then, all of a sudden, a big wave of missing mum rose within me, and I found myself spontaneously weeping, as quite strong grief flowed through me. And in the midst of all this, I found myself saying out loud, “I’m so glad we knew one another” – ah, I’m weeping again – “and I’m so glad we loved one another as we did.”
Such a beautiful thing to find my heart and soul speaking that sentence. Sometimes grief seems to need silence, sometimes tears, sometimes a hand or a hug, and sometimes words – often very precise words, I tend to find.
Ah, mum, I do miss you so much. You’d like it here at the Cabin, on a sunny spring day, anyway. Although you’d probably find the lockless little toilet-shower-room a bit challenging. You know what? I’d put a lock on the door, especially for you. And a bottle of white wine in the fridge. And we’d go into Seaton and spend a quid each in the lonely little amusement arcade, and remember our Skegness and Whitley Bay days, before eating chips on the seafront and staring out to sea, enjoying one another's silent company.
Hmmmmm. Another, much more gentle, wave of grief is moving through me – but woven with a love that currently has me smiling too.
Ah, think this blog is just about done. Gotta get ready for a party – Guy’s 50th at the Sparkford Valentine’s Hippy Bling party. My newest mate Keith – who lives down the road at Budleigh Salterton – has promised me a fitting from his wonderfully colourful wardrobe. Makes me realise how drab this middle-aged git’s wardrobe has become. More colour please, vicar. Let nature be my sartorial guide...
And I’m gonna celebrate this on the dancefloor tonight – and all the way through till dawn...