Friday, 5 August 2016

Whispers and Shadows - Of Being Home, of Gardens, God, me and the Eternal



Whispers and Shadows is the name of my house. It has been mine and my family's home these past thirty-two years. After my mum's death earlier this year, I returned here in spite of my better judgement having been persuaded by Thumbscrew it was for the best. Her reasoning was sound - why spend my inheritance on a home for myself when, with a little outlay, I could convert our old bedroom into a top floor apartment? This would mean I could have somewhere to live yet be able to ensure my family benefited too. It made sense.

I have been back now for nearly a month and it still feels weird. Not the being back where my heart is but sharing a roof with the woman I was once in love with. The truth is I always will love her but being in love and loving someone you have known for forty-four years are two very different things. My estranged wife is like a sister to me, one who drives me nuts yet someone who I would always help if help was required. She is after all the mother of my children.

However, nothing lasts forever less it be the mountains and the earth. The joy, though, the utter bliss, is sharing my home with my grandchildren. Each day I awake to fall in love again. A double whammy of seeing and hearing Jacob and Joshua, crawling now with Josh near to walking, chattering in their high pitched voices. It is an indescribable delight. I am amazed how big the human 'heart' is, how it can love an unlimited amount of times with the same powerful passion. And boy how I love them.

Thumbscrew's pregnancy should have been, as all pregnancies should, one of bliss and joy. It wasn't. Jacob was small for dates and att one stage Emily was told he may be stillborn. To see how my daughter wept at the thought of having to give birth to a child only to bury it was heartbreaking. No matter how positive a front Jasmine and I put on things that horrible possibility haunted her throughout her term. Of course, the boys, much like nature itself, had different plans. Jacob was born 2 lb whilst Joshua was 3. Tiddly little mites. Joshua is still the bigger but Jacob the more feisty. He takes after my son and youngest daughter. Both have lungs that could wake the dead.

Whispers and Shadows is  apparently the line from a song by Paul Weller. I didn't know this when I made the name up before having the plaque made. You can see it nestling among the ivy. That ivy has got to go. The house itself is very ordinary, a compromise to modernity. Why people put such store by property I will never understand. For me it is home. It is where my children grew up and where I have a selection of rich memories that include birthday parties, Christmases, Bonfire Nights and Halloween's. 



The house isn't big but big enough to house seven of us comfortably. Above the front door is the window Thumbscrew looks out on. Behind the overgrown birch is Jacob and Joshua's room. Behind that is the first-floor bathroom and behind that the room where I currently sleep and which used to be Tweezil's bedroom. Next to this is Squid's room and large above them what used to be mine and my estranged wife's bedroom which is now used by Jamie.

You can't see how I have shaped the front lawn from the angle of the photo but the grass is formed as a long rectangle, about thirty-eight feet long by twenty deep, which I have cut out a border twelve inches deep. I am having the drive 'cobblestoned' with grey coloured stones which will also conect  a path from the drive to the blue side gate. The ivy needs to come down to allow room for the path to be laid. The tree is in need of having maybe fifteen feet trimmed off. Around the lawn will be laid white stones so that the green of the lawn, the grey of the path, the white of the border will form a Zen-like garden, minimal and hopefully attractive. That tree though is way out of control.



Weeds are already growing in the border even though it is less than a month since I dug it. I need to make the trough a little deeper so that I can first place a layer of weed control fabric for the stones to lay on.



My intention with the back garden is to replicate the front. Not to make it identical, it is bigger than the front, but to have two long rectangles running across the width of the garden each bordered by white stones. What you see now is a vegetation largely cut down by me. By the time I have finished all the trees you see standing apart from the Crimson King maple that was planted after my dad's death, the willow my kids played on and the two toward the front, (one's a weeping birch the other a may tree  which again was planted to commemorate my dear old mother-in-law, Mad Glad's passing) will be gone.

I have plans drawn up in my head that if realised will make for what I hope to be a beautiful garden to sit in, play in and meditate in. You are after all nearer to God in the garden than anywhere else on Earth. Funny how I, never much of a gardener, am finding both the challenge and the construction exhilarating. Thumbscrew would say it is my new found search for 'spirituality' but I am still unclear what that means. However, I do know that when I succeed in silencing the noise of my random thoughts, even if only for thirty seconds, the eternal enters me. There is nothing mystical about it, there is no magic. That which is greater than me but which I am part of floods my being and I and all of creation momentarily become one. It really is a wonderful, transformative experience.











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Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

1 comment:

Cara H said...

Your relationship with your ex wife sounds like mine with my ex husband. He's family to me. I care about him. We will always be friends. As far as the romantic part of the relationship goes, however, I often wonder if I was drunk the whole time he and I were together, because I can't imagine being romantically involved with him.