Archives for posts with tag: the forest

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I always liked compasses, as I child I coveted their slick shined domes, arrows twitching mysteriously. I can’t see them from my youth but I know they were there. I can only see the recent one, bought in a gift ship at end of a walk, half for our son as he chose the green one. And the image flips me to another shop buying up bits while you rode the mud together and I met you both by the front low wall as you screeched up and leaned by the side. I remember the tyre marks on the back of his top worryingly strong and clear but he’d only been leaning up the wheel as you stopped for juice from the little carton with a ‘stwor’ and he was smaller than now and the wheel was big. And I can see you bombing off from the carpark up the dusty road while I wandered to the shop and once, just once, I came with you and stood by the wooden bike hire shack, trying to find the one for the fit and wibbled and wobbled with you through the undergrowth, by the station and booted it over gravel before my knees gave in.
And my compass banged up and down on my small red rucksack, the one I bought for the Alps from the old sports shop where my hiking boots were a size too big to fit my fuzzy socks and our son wasn’t made and my jacket was red and yours blue. The rucksack lasted on all the walks, a tardis of treasures that you both teased me about, in the forest, in the teashop, warm butter and china mugs, laughing at me as you ticked off the things I’d carry while I triumphantly pulled out the ubiquitous banana. And the table was wide old walnut, just up the road from the horses where you clopped down the lane and I followed.

August 10th

In this world a proper summer has returned, like those from 70’s of my childhood when you were back in the North and I sweltered in the South.

I wake, the overnight fan blows strong and loud, its confident whirring sounds like a plane. I’m up high somewhere in metal hurtling but directed, the pilot knows where he’s going.
On land in my bed I’m muddled in memories, the morning before the birthday meal, tipping up the old camp bed and laughing in the hours before the quotes. The quotes around a different table at the last meal, the last Sunday, four days before this one. Rushing back from school now to the start of the end and although I know where the dates are leading me, I’m sticking with the thought of flight, watching us in my little room pack and prepare for this journey. Younger eyes knowing much less, a different world view from this Unknown.

I bounce all over in the turbulence finding things that I’d forgotten, peering through old windows and looking carefully through the fragile and delicate, the solid and permanent, the moments of our world.
The engine’s strong, directed. I may go into the cockpit have a word with the pilot. I’d like to know what he does but maybe I’m not allowed, maybe I have to stay here in my seat, bump along the air pockets and look down, observe the scenery with awareness be in the moment of flight.

He has his altimeter, I have my alethiometer still heavy, strange, a precious responsibilty. But it was given, this gift, in its rust velvet sack, the chord golden and twisted.
I know when to hide it, I know when to fetch it out, to tap its crystal screen, watch the needles spin and twitch, then feel. Feel where the symbols are pointing, lift up into their meaning, let the images dance and shift until they make sense.

Then I move, then I act, reading the symbols, wrapped in fur on my journey North. The snow bites as I follow bear prints. It’s cold, it’s confusing but I’m learning through the dials.

Guided, driven.
In this plane, on this journey.
Here in my bed on this day, drifting and watching. The fan burrs out across the room. I’m lying flat watching ceilings, just like back then.

Such a strong sense of travel.
I am everywhere. I grab the compass.

Time to get up.

August 14th

I remember being lost in Valencia with our end of trip verve we branched out and split from the herd. Our insurance policy was the guide ordered taxi who would whisk through new streets to the cathedral. With a tour pick up from there with bright buses to show us the way, we couldn’t go wrong… So we peeled off and piled in our rattle trap taxi, bouncing on the low soft sprung seats, our son unsure of the steps we were taking but we reassured him, we had instructions, we knew what we were doing.

The driver dropped us in his appointed place, I can see it now, light, heaving, chaotic with tourists and sights and though the cathedral shouted out to us from its gothic spires, it was quickly obvious we weren’t at the right side. Amongst concerns from our son about what we would do if we missed the boat and all our possessions sailed without us, we hid our concerns and stumbled into tourist information. In broken English with biro stabbed maps we grappled to find the direction and as our clock ticked down we rushed and flustered to a different street, clutching our son’s hot hand, to find the boarding point we needed later.

In our noticeable relief you found an outside table serving Guiness while confident of our directions, we plotted where you were in relation to the shops and spires, straight up passed the fountain and swung our rucksacks in the glare of Spanish sunshine to find a fairytaled sweetshop. The owner who appeared like Mr Ben from behind a twinkling curtain helped me part with the last of the euros in exchange for a plastic cement mixer loaded with marmallows (such an obvious souvenir). And though the clock ticked we didn’t care because we knew where we were, we knew where you were sat and we knew where we were going.

Sweets in hand, under the loud blue sky we made our way back to you and in the carefree moments before the jostle of bus, we took a final photo, you and our son by the fountain, shining into the light, him in holiday brightness and you in the same alluring pose from that first ever photo all those hours ago, from the world before I knew you, when you sat infront of Niagra in those vile and zany lemon shorts.

We caught the bus in time despite our fear, despite out foolish challenges, despite losing our way for a while. Travelling, testing ourselves, finding answers on our path.

Two and half years ago tonight I was shoved off the path, knocked down and smashed my compass.
Still clutching our son’s hot hand as we fell inexorably towards tomorrow.

August 15th

It’s raining today, I can hear its hiss through these thin windows. The drops are quite uniform, speckled on my glass, varieties of wishes upside down in each one, a world turned on its head under the breaking grey of sky.
My back’s playing up, just like 13 years ago in the month before I gave birth. In today’s careful steady steps I remember those movements, the inching along and I flip around to the memories locked away.

Our son is messing with the sprinkler, firing droplets into the trees. The sun pushes through, I tell him he may make a rainbow as the water flys and dances in photons. He tells me ‘Yes, but you need to sit inside the raindrops to see it…’

Pointing towards Polaris, through the rain and rays.

x

Ps
And now a word from our sponsor – our son…
Hello viewers of my Mum’s blog. I need your input on my next post. Please look back at my post called The Final Frontier,

https://thetaoofgrief.com/2012/06/17/the-final-frontier/

pick out your favourite episode, then leave it as a comment on this post. I will then describe it in a much detail as I can, in my next post entitled
‘To Boldly Go Into As Much Detail As Possible’
Thank you:-)

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Can’t get moving today, have no momentum. I’m here with zero spin like the Higgs particle and I read about it hurling around in Switzerland, teasing the physists with it’s revealed truths. But it appears to still fit into the standard model, nothing new yet, nothing more exotic and it shows them we only understand 4% of our universe.

And I also continue to collide around in here, charging into things, smashing myself into memories, exploring this strange new world, our new civilisation, understanding only fragments of how we still exist.

And I make an attempt at tidying,
up in here, by the old stereo, your old record player from the museum of a life and through the smokey grey Bakelite it says ‘Thorens’ with a flourish, TD160B MK11, apparently. And the stylus has a small triangle on its tiny brushed steel finish. The counterweight sits still, round the back, the softly boxed ‘disc-cleaner’, a furry product of time. And in front of it an old beaten coaster, the image peeling up at the corners, the one with the dappled horse that I bought from the country park, way back in that May when the hayfever tablets worked well.
Our son’s redundant Playmobil lies down, redeployed as a statue, on it’s back fighting no fires, looking sideways to the things I can’t see.
The old cassette tapes in a triptych
underneath, wound slippy brown ribbon, imprinted with days. I need to play them some time soon but not yet. And I look down passed the Lost calendar bought for you before I watched it and the tuner, black crackling brute, that had begun to loose it’s growl, in those months before and the radio over the tape player with its satisfying click clunk of depressed buttons. And the memory of it’s red lights, (5 in from the left) in the time when it lived behind the settee arm, in the other home, in the other world.
And I study these elements carefully
to the background radiation of our son playing with friends, loud, up here and he needed to be careful not to bump it, with it’s delicate old mechanism, fragile but still working, handle it all with care.

And I remember the huge old speakers, the white monsters carved by your Dad and the stories of hoiking them down from the North and up the Southern stairs. They squatted in our bedroom until the move evicted them and they were sold and removed to somewhere else, somehow, in a time before eBay.
But the cupboards that sat in between them still sit, their place in the garage where they took root, in all the new plans of new homes.

And I draw in the dust remembering your music, the compared lists, the groans and distaste, the raised eyebrows and head shaking. Just remembered Go Moog! oh my god, how I laughed and how I wound you up about it and getting the ‘image’ right between the speakers. Hi-Fi, obviously, I really shouldn’t have said stereo…And I remember the jazz and the name choosing for our son and the track you wrote to me about, hundreds of years ago, before txts, without email, in a chat-free, app-free world, when we held a pen and used a stamp and we waited, waited to see what would happen. And I found the track again, somehow, in that week, despite my carnage and played it again on that day.

And I’m back in the old Orion with Meatloaf before the first meal, the creamed out trout and slapstick corn, the meal we never really lived down. And the endless journeys in the Sandbanks days, the naff tunes that came to have their meaning, the ones that always reoccurred and the concept albums from a 70’s teenage room. The disparaging looks at my collection, the what and the why and The Who and how we swapped on Crowded House and became Keane in the closing days of forest trips, in the car, by the lyrics we couldn’t keep up with. And I sourced out some Be bop Deluxe as a joke and moved you into Rufus Wainwright with that song that I haven’t played since.

I’m sat here now with all your vinyl boxed and inaccessible but the names and sounds are pouring and images spinning hard and fast. The Christmas dancing, the corporate meals, the waistcoats and velvet and the old car radio, up loud and personal, shaving off the angles on the roundabouts as we hurtle late at night.

And downstairs, almost camouflaged behind our first pot plant, (the one that survived the years and moves, its glossy veins mapping our growth,) sits your leaning tower of CDs. I rumbled through it in that week back then, stumbling to find what to play, wanting Tom Waits but not knowing where to start. So I replaced them as best I could, in your special order, not alphabetical, (of course not,) too simple. Placed them back in their unique genres, your categories of ‘taste’. Haven’t been near it really but it’s calling, from the old wood, it’s chipped lips, the thin plastic covers, dog eared gatefolds, a frozen picture of movement and verve.

And high up above me, shiny hidden blackness, a toast rack of 45’s, brittle skin and grooves, with Epic signposting, no doubt Sweet, smiling down at me.

I can hear them all, playing over layed, a turned down tumult of you and the Swing, just remembered the Swing and the joy of zoot suits in Malcolm X.
And it’s coming at me with the speed or firing particles, a need to hear some, to spin inside, to crank it out loud and blaring, like I used to, like you used to, when there was dance without restraint and we were younger, we were us, with our collection of collections and the sounds spun out of our old universe, lit by a distant sun.

And I accelerate faster to unknown speeds, pushing the boundaries of what I know, looking for answers
and forming new questions, in these places, in this soundtrack of our life.

Today in the music of our spheres.

xxx

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Been Looking back over words written months ago when our son made a trip to Southampton and later when we passed through again, together, in a time machine and the images fragment and crackle with who we used to be and it’s all here, in these words from that town. The town that started my journey to here…

Last summer

I’m in our old places, in a new way and head down, tapping, full on avoidance. Can’t see the trees, hide from the ponies and moments. And I hear our son’s voice still with his young idiosyncracies that take me back to our Sundays before school. And the car park’s familiar but I have to do it, glance up quick, then head down from the roaming animals and I ignore the swerve of the roads, trying hard not to and think where we are, I can’t be in any of it at all.
I stay quietly tapping, hurting in silence, aiming but losing the moment, while I’m back at our first ever Sunday. Ice creams from the tiny shop, dressed in red, trying to find the bin, teeming river and the current cattle grid shakes my presence and I’m tired of memory. Sun crashes through, the suspension rattles me and I’m lost in the trees somewhere.

I feel blown by the day, sleepy and crushed. Can’t find the image for the thought but it’s close to a broken cobweb, holed and stretched, at the mercy of the weather, stale prey, cocooned limp hanging. And while I’m spinning in sticky thread, a flash of rain crackles the light and we crawl through under the bridge of colours, bringing hope by the dismal tower block.

Same morning – earlier

Back at the bench it’s cold and I feel strange. Just left him kitted out, off to Southampton for time in the world that he’ll grow into and I feel odd but ok. He’s as prepared as me and I can’t see much beyond the rooves, the sky hangs thick and low as I go back eighteen years to my own careful packing for the first trip south and our conversations move around me in the wind. The horizon blurs purple, the spring flowers pushing higher as I drift forwards and back to the forest, the first glimpse of ponies and the laughter of a townie running out of bounds.
I’m knitting it together, his presence of challenges unmet and a world we’re stepping into, with my tentative steps back then. This all belongs to someone else, someone I used to know. I need to unravel this carefully, think I’m too much in the present to look at the past but it will come, as the hall fills with suitcases and they wait for the coach.

I took the train south, was it really that long ago? And you showed me your town and the places I’d come to know.
Familiar haunts on Saturday mornings, crossing over the water for baguettes,
carefully filled bread, in the cafe that never had enough seats and we’d sit in the front, watching people, opposite the shop we bought the rocking chair from, a couple of years later, before the stool got stained by family and life.

And Waterstones after, ending up at the camera shop and evenings on the edge, at the Frog and Frigate and stories and tales of the land before. Before I crossed over into permanence and your friend came back from sea. And we felt the force around us and I can feel his excitement as the coach pulls up now, as I boarded the train back then and he’s going to test out the waters, near our country park. And as it starts for him I see us racing back up the long smooth road, cutting angles off the roundabouts as we hurried to make my connection on time.

And I did and I came back again, became a local girl, a platform regular, until the habit became away of life. And he’s bundled up with all he needs for now, all shiny and new with extra chocolatey bits on top but sepia stained for me, dog eared and torn with love.
And as he burbles from the coach, I go back to all our moments, visits and integration, the things to tolerate, the things I came to own and we’re freezing on Western shore, standing guard in the playground, in the dark, waiting for the ship to come in, peeled back layers of a time before it was our turn and they stood and waved at us.

And forest teas with the Midwich cuckoos, when he wasn’t allowed to touch toys, to buying essential nonsense from the tinkling hippy shop, magpie-ing my way around ephemera, through the incensed air, in the chromed up glossy mall, the one we revisited that last Christmas, when the Apple store hummed helpfully as your watch repair went wrong.
And I flip back and round like the waltzer our son hated, memories blurring as the colours of our years bleed into each other and I’m sick with the intensity and my head spins till I heave it out.

And it keeps coming at me, Portsmouth road on the bus, passed the Cod Plaice, while you worked, around the complex island, enjoying my freedom of feeling new and the eagerness of the short lived perfumed job and I can smell their shallowness and see me by the busy road, flat shoes, achy feet with discarded heels banging in a plastic bag. And I was so young, so improbably young, and I hear our quotes at Dad’s party, the day we mapped out the future.

And I remember Buffalo Bills, with our friend and his friends, meals with Nelson and his funny little ways, shining talk and us, full of stories from New York and the walls were plastered with film memorabilia and the toilet was a jungle. And I wore my favourite t-shirt, rushing past the Mayflower on the right, when I wore the black shoes with jeans and we parked round the back somewhere. And I was driven passed it recently, think it’s a coffee bar now or was it the place next door, boarded up, out of time?

And it continues, all the places from when we drove around, you showing us where you used to live, when you first moved down and how you’d gone to find digs, walking for miles, coping with a broken arm to accidental biking by the QE2.

And on and up to the Cowherds, stuffed with roasts, by the park up the avenue, where we watched the balloon festival, chasing the Desiderata song.

And sometime later driving by containers and freight, just like we did back then. That first trip, when the car was full of us and the gardener’s children and he told us the trip was ‘pregnant with possibilities’ to wind us up, like he always did.
And I see the shiny buildings, chromed up high to the air, where I got a job that I didn’t take because we moved and chuffed up the motorway.

And some time after, I saw our journey north, into the sun, leaving there for the new home. And as we skirted it’s edge I looked carefully right, past the cut through that you showed me, by the car park where I crunched gears and the bus stop that released me on the road to Hamble.

It was all there, like a film set, soft focussed and it happened and it didn’t. And I stared through it all, at the sun beating off the leaves, in a courtyard garden, near to where we used to live, in a world away, in times gone by, in a distance place, in another land before.
Beyond the now and up the hill, like your pick ups from St Marys with the red and white eyes lighting up out of the greyness and it’s all still there just around,
just beneath,
just existing, in it’s own plane, safe and untroubled from this reality.

And I need to leave this for a while and come back to the present and see how it jigsaws together, me then, him now, knotting the images, tying them tightly, harnessed securely in past and present. Someone I used to know, someone I used to be and her ways and their words, feeding into who I am.

Now.

Right now,
in this moment,
in this world, with these challenges, with this love, with these layers, with this knowledge, with this truth.

In this reality.

Now.

xxx

Ps

Sun setting over my merlot, ruby light pierced raspberry. Blood rich shards dance out, splintering pink into my room. I’ve travelled today, through years and space, pain and growth and memory. I’m disengaged now, displaced, confused. Carrying heavy, vivid luggage with me, till I can place it down again somewhere, somewhere safe and protected. For now I’m in it, wrapped up totally and lost, feeling who I used to be with love from who I’ve become.

x

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I’m struggling with autumn, think it passed me by last year but I see it this time now with all it’s misty dankness, its inviting skies, teasing and flirting. Showing off the colours, how much more blue can it go and the colours scream out like they used to. For how long. before they lose their moments, turning crushed and flat, slippy patterns on those boots and too many times to slip back home with scuffed knees and you had to rush off to work but put the kettle on for me first. And the constant Sunday inevitability, the desire to walk in the forest, our incompetence doing it, the battered maps and tired feet. Confused expressions in the corner of a field and we weren’t cut out for the county, we did it and loved it for twenty minutes but paths always merged and gates looked the same and I’m not sure we ever ended up where we thought we would, ironic really. And we’d rarely get out before two, one pm, if we were focussed and you two would laugh at my rucksack, stuffed with eventualities and triangular bandages for the fall that didn’t happen. But I didn’t have anything for that unseen moment, well you wouldn’t, would you? And we’d do the rounds of familiar places, the villages you knew from before with bits of stories we didn’t tell anymore and round again with our son, new tales and teashops, grateful for hot mugs on burning, aching fingers. And I’d always forget my gloves despite how many pairs I had. The practical ones your Mum bought for us both, the nice but too thin from my 40th and the two pairs I’d adored from the last Christmas, quite similar and two for one, thats why you bought them. And despite bigger gifts, I loved their fluffy nonsense most but I never got to wear them because I forgot them on the last coldness to Portsmouth and then February came. 

And you always drove and I directed and we tried to find somewhere new but it was often somewhere similar or same and we laughed at the animals when our son was younger. High entertainment from ponies and cows, shrieking at it’s head through the window and the seemingly endless fun of following a wild boars bottom down our winding road home.
And the late afternoon air gets up your nose, the huddle of deep pockets, the negotiation over who’s turn for tea and our son, rustling ahead, leaves in hood, bound to be hungry in the car.

And pushing back time brings on these moments and they’re all around me now like the scattered crunch we threw and tried to capture year after year, occasionally timing it right in the umbers and ambers, the old gold leaves of our days.
Seems odd, is this the fourth time we’ve shifted the hands? A pointless exercise in manipulating numbers.  
Not driving to the forest today, not getting up passed your books with the Problem of God et al and now I look at the problem of language though I’m not getting very far. And I only do the clocks that matter, my phone corrects itself, wish I could. My appliances are static, the oven beeps absent mindedly with random alarms, from the days when they stayed and Mum cancelled standby. And I haven’t got round to finding the instructions so it protests and flashes irrelevance while our son sorts and checks the things he needs. Clocks and faces that tick despite evidence to the contrary. Sitting here in their out of synchness. 

I should get up, not run through our  
Sunday scripts trying to spend the day, to not do any of it. And you, not ringing Tim, sponsered by Accurist and your best watch got scratched on that last trip to town.

My problem with time.

I struggle with autumn.

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