Friday, October 8, 2010


Contentment is not a word I use much for it is rarely a state of being that I now inhabit. It is getting harder and harder to put on my dressing gown each morning, somehow shoulders seem reluctant to engage with sleeves.

Earlier this week Anne’s niece called with her two month old baby. Childhood helplessness. In the cycle that is existence I can see the approach of my second childhood. It’s not a pleasing prospect.

But yesterday I felt contentment. I had spent some time signing books for my launch this weekend. I browsed happily as I signed. Poetry books are immensely dippable.

It was lovely and sunny so I suggested afternoon tea out on the lawn. With the recently-bought second-hand walker I went out the front door and around the house to the east side to sit in garden chair. I sat facing the house, sun-hat protecting my face and soaking up the warmth. Bruce had mowed the lawn the day before. Life felt good.

From that vantage I could see the two oaks side by side on the west side of the house. One is a burst of fresh green leaves. The other, shattered by last March’s storm has hardly a promise of buds.

The storm merely winnowed what was already happening. Last Spring the healthy one had the same green canopy of splendour, the other a few leaves as it struggled for survival. It was sick and frail before the gale did its damage. I imagine it had little sap flow. When I was young I reveled in challenging the storm. Now, I feel at its mercy.

The two oaks are a metaphor for my life – the green one my mind, alert and active, (albeit frustrated), whereas the ailing one is my body.

Strange to have that thought while in a state of contentment. The sight of new leaves on the lovely weeping elm to the north helped. As did the snowdrops, they’ve been flowering for ages. (A search on the internet reveals that deer do not eat them). The lavender’s looking majestic, the roses are vigorous in growth and Anne had planted out lettuce seedlings for summer salads.

Don't catalogue Harvey. Like all such moods it vanished. Musing about contenment destroyed the moment. It's lesson Keats taught us. It's a lesson we never learn. Though we yearn for its return that instance is over and life flows on.

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