it's interesting, to me anyway, how one gets used to the flow of light around a home. I know that every equinox, the sunlight will flood great rafts of light down my hallway straight through to the kitchen
That the living room will be golden first thing in the morning
Well, as a child walking home from school with my bag of hopeful books tucked under my arm, it was the gardens I watched, all the way home. I wasn't for one second thinking abut how to conjugate French verbs, I was watching the flowers glow and nod in the breeze, wondering what they were and how they got to be there. My mother had very little interest in gardens - she'd been banned as a child for fear of knocking over the dahlias. My father was gone, so there was no-one to ask. Since I have, supposedly, grown up - I have had three gardens in three different houses that were my very own to play with. This most recent one, which I am preparing to leave, began like this
which has now become this
I have learned an enormous amount about time and seasons from this garden, about leaf and flower, texture, size and light, so hope to take those lessons forward to our new garden ...
Perhaps because I find myself for the first time in my life without a grandmother anywhere in my domestic space. The loss of Mum has taken my daughter's grandmother from us.
My grandmother, Ganna, and me
My own grandmother looked after me after my father died when I was seven. She was a jewel and much loved. She told me tales of George Penny, who routinely fell out of a little girl's pocket, to roll n the street and find an adventure. Then later, the most wonderful made up games where we jointly narrated a story together as though we had heard all from a third person and were actually part of the world in which this was taking place. Of course in the tales a young girl was for ever getting up to mischief! She was also gentle but utterly firm in her discipline, never raising her voice, but somehow ensuring one knew what the right way to behave was. She died in my 21st year.
My Mum and Jen
And now we have lost Mum, who gave my daughter her own tales of the imagination. Old 'Arry with his awful cough, the fish and chip shop. She too was a special soul, with such a vivid blue gaze that you always felt that her delight in seeing you was absolute. A very special gift.
Nanya - Alice Rowe, nee Atkins
Then of course there was Nanya, the Irish artist, my great grandmother whom I never knew. She would come in from her garden querying why "none of you girls" had made supper. She had been communing with the garden fairies I guess. Her paintings hang in my house, her sister forever poised wistfully at a spinet, Courtown Woods ringing to the sound of three little girls playing on the bridge.
So, I am feeling the loss of these women. And am aware that now I am the repository of family myth and culture. A condensed trickle of tales, edited by time and made warm with love.
This is a start of sorts, I am embarking on a house move that is pretty significant, attached as it is to a whole load of life changes. My mother has died, my dear man is about to retire, I return to work soon after a period of staying at home to care for Mum, my daughter is easing away into adult life.
And so we are moving and taking on a new garden......
The move means downsizing, editing away the vast collection of books I have been wandering this world with, asking myself what matters, in particular since I have just lost an irreplaceable person who mattered, without whom I would never have been, without whom I have never been. It is a new experience, and we are starting a new life.
so, what is going?
off to the charity shop
and what is staying
space to move!
It also means leaving the first garden where I've perhaps begun to understand what it's all about. So, the new garden, a blank slate, will be the test of, and exploration of that understanding.
The space in which I looked after Mum was also a space where I could begin to explore those things that have interested me as long as I can remember, working with needle, with sketchbook, with fabric and thread. There have been some experiments, some openings up in the weave of life for little bits of me. These I may share, not because I think they are of any worth, but that I have found others' journeys inspiring. The love of needlework was a gift from my grandmother, part of her, still here in me. The love of art is from my great grandmother, a part of her inspiring me. The love of these two women came from my mother, who will always be with me.
This blog will, I hope, be a reflection of these varied things that make up a life.