I wrote this two days ago. It's now a crisp autumn morning.
It’s pelting down with rain at present, good for the lawn and garden suffering from a summer drought. Two wax-eyes work through the abutilon flowers despite the downpour. I like most animals, tame or wild. I envy their apparently simpler existence. To me it appears they live only in the present. Modern science tends to dispute this theory but I’m with Robbie Burns lines to a mouse, 'Still, thou art blest, compared wi’ me! The present only toucheth thee.' But of course animals share the same imperatives. As Auden wrote, "Territory, status, and love, sing all the birds, are what matter." But they do not laugh, weep or blush. Social issues and morality are not their concern.
I’ve been reading Burns. A friend, Hillary Lapsley, working in Edinburgh, sent me recently A Night Out With Robert Burns, a volume of his best poems. I’ve never spent much time with him before so I’ve been enjoying him. Two lines that take my fancy are
The minister kisst the fiddler’s wife
He canna preach for thinking o’o it.
A Romantic’s view of the age-old clash between emotion and morality. Milton would have handled it very differently.
Of course, the mouse poem is there. The best laid plans ‘aft gang agley.’ The story of my retirement. I had it all worked out. I would garden, albeit in a smaller section. I would share the cooking, experimenting with new dishes as well as the trusted and proven ones. I would walk to the Karori mall and library. We would travel, both around New Zealand and abroad. I would go to shows, drama and exhibitions. I would continue to bird feed in the near-by sanctuary. Alas, I’ve been diagnosed with inclusion body myositis, a rare muscular degenerative disease. In my case, even rarer, it’s affecting my breathing. I have to have a Cpap breathing machine at night with an oxygen converter - a massive piece of equipment - which means I cannot travel. I can’t garden and I can’t cook for I cannot plant seedlings or lift a casserole out of the oven. Even with raised pots I don’t have the strength or energy to garden. Even chopping up an onion leaves me breathless. I’ve had to give up driving which means I’m dependent upon other people. It’s very rugged on my wife Anne for it means I can’t help around the house even to the extent that I cannot feed the cat. I’m at risk of falling - l’ve already had five. Thank heavens, I still can read, use the computer, watch television and DVDs, talk to friends. From being a participant in life I’ve become an observer. Hospital waiting rooms loom large as other events narrow down. So I begin this blog to widen my contacts
Barry Crump Collected Stories
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