Thursday, 15 March 2012

Day 15

I'm not doing very well at posting every day.  The truth is that whenever I think of spring, I'm drawn into the garden, where before I know it I'm clutching a fork or a pair of secateurs and am clipping or tidying or re-potting something, or else I'm just smiling idiotically at the emerging plants and birdsong.  It turns out that blogging's not one of my spring activites and I think this will have to be, therefore, an early-spring tree of a project.  I'll add more once I've given my thoughts time to grow.

For today, here are a few photographs of the odd-shaped patch of land that takes up so much of my attention.

This is how it looked at 7 o'clock this morning:

And here it is this afternoon:

The daffodils always  come out late here: we're almost at the bottom of a west-facing valley.  It's noticeably colder, even in summer you can feel the temperature drop as you come down the hill, but it's a magical, hidden place, loud with birds, much to the cats' delight.  Here they are with their new obsession, the blue tits' nest on the ash tree:

I caught Hellebore shimmying around the tree towards the nest earlier, clinging to the trunk.  So far, she's been unable to reach the bird box, which is firmly attached to the tree, but the poor parent birds were obviously worried and were flying around the tree in an attempt to distract her. 

And here are the hens, back in their run for the evening:

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Day 7

 Vanessa Bell's cover design for To the Lighthouse

 A day of writing, talking, listening and laughing with Sandy and Steph.  Early Downland daffodils bloom in Sandy's village.  The sun's warm.  We sit in the study, surrounded by books and bird bones; eating hot cross buns; being visited by cats; passing ideas, confessions, impressions, between one another; catching thoughts, nodding in agreement; adding link by link to the chain of conversation.  Again, I remember the importance of collaboration to my work, of friendship.  We warm one another, bring spring to our wintry solitude.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Day 5

Driving to Tunbridge Wells to teach, I listen to Under Milk Wood.  It's a clear morning, windy but bright after yesterday's rain.  Captain Cat longs for Rosie Probert and Mr Pugh dreams up his 'venomous porridge' to serve to Mrs Pugh.  Wind blows the daffodils on the verges as I pass. 

I talk with my class about fairy tales: what makes a fairy tale, what fairy tales can teach us about writing.  We tell tales, helping one another when we forget what comes next, squealing as the huntsman chops the wolf in two, right down the middle.  We're children again.  We learn that no one's too old to tell a tale or to listen.

I drive home.  My old tape of Richard Burton and cast goes round again.  A spring tradition.  I sing with Polly Garter, 'Little Willy Wee was the man for me.'

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Day 4

A day of rain.  I leave the house only to let the chickens out of their run and take my catnip seedlings from the propagator to the greenhouse.  Three seeds have germinated overnight.  They are tiny and I wonder if they'll survive the shock of March cold.  The base of the seed tray is warm from the propagator's heat.  I hurry out and then back inside to my book.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Day 2

 Rebecca Hurst, Infinity Sian

A day of Yayoi Kusama and Jacques Offenbach.  I catch the train with Rebecca.  She sleeps, I read.  We get off at London Bridge and follow the Thames Path to Tate Modern.  Kusama is brilliant, tense, wriggly, delicously dotty.  

Later, we meet Phill and go together to the fabulous ENO production of Tales of Hoffmann.  Rebecca draws Kusama-me. 

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Twenty-One Spring Days, Day 1

Last night, Rebecca and I ushered out the old month in fine style at the Snowdrop Inn, Lewes.  We drank Snowdrop ale (too much of it in my case) and danced to some foot-tapping folk music. I slept last night beside Rebecca's river.

Today I've lurched about, achieving little, feeling vile but happy.  I ate lunch in the garden, watched the hens sunbathe and thought about all the things I could write if my brain hadn't turned overnight to Downland chalk.