Saturday, 9 December 2017

January Weather

Dear Reader,



                                                                                   Winter Scenes


I have decided to take a break until Sunday, January 14th.   I have very much enjoyed writing this blog for the last two years, but I feel that since my husband passed away this summer it has been a trifle dull, as I have been myself.  It has been difficult for me to concentrate on the blog and its contents since I have found grieving all consuming, apart from all the administration I had to deal with too.   So a Christmas break seemed a good idea.

I wish you all a very happy Christmas and lots of good things in the New Year, and I hope you will enjoy this last poem about January weather.

                                                                               *

January Weather

We know from recorded history,
that in St. Merryn
a hundred years ago,
there blew great winds
and the sea was smoking white.

We know it was warm in Kent
where the thrushes thought spring
had come, and piped away.
And primroses were a yellow carpet
in North Norfolk,
or so the parson wrote.

We know of cutting winds in Hampshire,
of icicles and frost, and
in Skiddaw on a mild day,
a brown spotted butterfly was seen.
We know that hungry church mice
ate Bible markers,
hungry people died of cold.

And we know that this dark winter month
had days of snow, that wild clouds
gathered in the sky unleashing icy rain,
churning up the plough.

An yet, again, we also know
the sun shone in that distant year,
it was warm enough to push through
early snowdrops, and the Holy Thorn.
Light was glimpsed, here and there,
all life struggled for its moments.

                                                                                *

Very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 3 December 2017

A Grimsby Fisherman's Wife, Mrs. Ethel Richardson

 Dear Reader,




                                                                                      Fishermen's Wives




The contemporary wave of the woman's movement began in the late 1960's when Hull fishermen's wives protested about women's poor labour conditions.  These women started an uprising led by a Mrs Bilocca following the sinking of three Hull trawlers in as many weeks, with the loss of 58 lives in the dark winter of January and February 1968.  The sinking of the ships was a devasting blow for Hull's fishing community.  The wives and daughters of local trawler men launched a petition that attracted 10,000 names in three days.  They also picketed the docks to ensure departing ships carried radio operators, and then marched on Parliament to meet ministers who ordered trawler owner to implement new safety arrangements with immediate effect.
                                                                          
                                                                                   *


December 3rd, 1869    John Ruskin, Denmark Hill, Surrey.

'Down at 7 exactly, and foggy, not only cloudy.  Note, there is much light in the sky even now, though not three three weeks to the shortest day.'

                                                                              *
A Grimsby Fisherman's Wife

During the day she knitted
her life into rough wool sweaters,
Fear of north-east gales,
- more forecast -
fear of no return,
and Fridy night beatings,
were turned with a collar,
stiched with sober wools.
Knit one, purl one.

Men known to her, sea-taken;
the grief of loss for
a babe or two, and
winter storms and
treacherous rocks that
albatrossed a fisherman's life,
were knitted into sleeves,
into polo necks.
Knit one, pearl one.

At night, from her narrow bed,
she knitted dreams of exotic places,
warm from the summer sun.
She danced on beaches, cockle-free
and knitted love
into her dream sweaters,
with wools, brightly coloured,
corals, blues, pinks, and red.
By night she knitted pumpkins.
Knit one, pearl one.


                                                                           *

With very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Invocation to Iona

Dear Reader,

                                                                                          Beluga Whales



A Beluga whale living in captivity with a pod of bottle nose dolphins has learned their language of whistles and clicks. The four-year-old whale was moved to live with dolphins in the Koktebel dolphinarium in Crimea in 2013 but, to begin with, found it difficult to communicate with her tank mates.  However, within just a few months she had begun to copy their whistles in clicks.  Scientists think it could be the first example of an animal changing its vocalisations in an attempt to "talk' to another species.  Dolphins have signature whistles, like names, which they use to call to each other.  After just a few months the beluga had stopped using its own calls and switched to dolphin signatures.  Beluga whales are highly intelligent and have been known to imitate people, other animals and other sounds.   This beluga whale has given up speaking "beluga" to fit in with her new friends the dolphins.
                                                                           *


Invocation to Iona

"Iona, sacred island, mother,
I honour you,
who cradle the
bones of Scottish Kings,
who birthed coloured gemstones
to enchant bleached beaches,
who shelter puffins on your rocks.

I wrap myself in your history,
and knot the garment with
machair rope-grass.
In the Port of Coracle
your southern bay,
I hear the wind-blown cormorant's cry,
and draw a breath.
I see Columba's footsteps
in the sand, and weep.
Tears overflow,
I am spirit-engulfed.

I ask you, Iona,
is this then, or now,
what is, or what has been?
Does the rolling salt sea-mist
cover the uncounted time between?"

                                                                             *

With best wishes, Patricia

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Fudge and Food for Thought



Dear Reader,



                                                                             Mali the Military Dog

I am always thinking of ways to keep young, and as healthy as I can with the advancing years, and very happily now understand that keeping a dog is a very good way to do so.   Apparently dog owners are less likely to die early or suffer a fatal heart attack or stroke, a major study has found. Keeping a dog cuts your risk of an early death by a fifth, while fatal cardiovascular disease is slashed by 23 per cent. By licking you or bringing dirt into the house, a canine companion helps to provide good bacteria needed to stay healthy, scientists believe.

I loved the story this week of Mali, the military dog who is to be honoured with a PDSA Dickin Medal.  Although in fierce fighting of the Taliban Mali sustained quite horrendous injuries, he absolutely stayed by his handler's side and forged forward with him to help him carry out his duty.  It is for that gallantry he has been awarded the equivalent to the Victoria Cross.  In the spring next year I am intending to purchase a labrador to be my friend and companion, and to go on long walks together in the lovely Cotswold countryside near my house.

                                                                                *


Fudge and Food for Thought

In the night, captive
I think of all the fudge I ate,
all the feelings of guilt I had
in my teens, my middle age, old age,
all the sdaness at my weakness
my inability to resist temptation.

Tossing uneasily in my bed
I think would I be more comely
if I had resisted,
more desirable, prettier, more amusing,
would I have had a happier life
without fudge in it?

I mean is fudge made largely
of butter, sugar, all things not allowed?
Not prescribed by those in the know,
the dreary food police who warn us
every day about something
we must not do, or eat, or say?

At dawn, I think, what the hell.
Now in my seventies, does it matter
what I ate to make me fatter?
Because now I am where I want to be
plump, happy, peaceful, and guilt free.

                                                                      *

With very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Identity

Dear Reader,

                                                                                          Donkeys

In the summers of the 1950's I spent numerous holidays on beautiful English beaches where many a donkey ride was to be had.  My sister and I found this to be a great treat and thoroughly enjoyed our selves.   Beach donkeys and donkey rides have been available since 1886 in Weston Super Mare and since 1895 in Bridlington.  The tradition started in Victorian times and it is thought that the donkeys on offer were originally working draught animals in the cockle industry around the coast.  I do love donkeys and so apparently did Charles Dickens, Jane Austen and Karl Marx. A final fact I can share with you is that since 2005 donkeys in Britain have been required to have a passport.

                                                                              *

Identity

"Why hello", she said, "how are you.
what have you been doing,
how are the family, is your sister
still writing.  I love her books
and George, I expect he is as
busy as ever, and the twins, heavens
how are they, and your grandmother, does
she still live in Acapulco, breeding
donkeys, and your dog, is it alive and well?
Ah good, good, good.
Gosh look at the time -
I really must fly, but so
lovely to hear all about you,
and your life".

The woman scratched her fingernails
down her cheek,
a spot of blood
splattered in her hand,
she pinched her arm, sensed the pain,
she stamped the ground,
felt paving stones beneath her feet,
and drawing near she saw a 23 bus.
These things were proof of her
existence, weren't they?
So she was alive, was there,
just invisible.

                                                                      *

With very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Small Moments of Warmth

Dear Reader,

                                                                                Pony and Trap


Peeping into other people's gardens this week I noticed that the one flower flourishing and still giving colour was the Michaelmas Daisy.  Michaelmas, the Feast of Michael and All angels, is celebrated on the 29th of September every year, and as it falls near the equinox, the day is associated with the beginning of autumn and the shortening days,  in England it is one of the quarter days. There is something old-fashioned and charming about Michaelmas daisies,  they are mostly blue and purple which look exceptionally good in the  low autumnal sun.  Michaelmas daisies banish autumn blues, they are vibrant, cheerful, and loved by butterflies.


Someone wrote to me last week asking for more stories of my eccentric Irish grandmother.  So here is a snippet.  She used to go shopping at Fortnum and Mason every morning, although what she needed or bought goodness knows since she was living at the Ritz Hotel at the time.  To go there she wore a long red velvet coat with a train trailing behind her, and on her head a black hat with a veil.  She also carried a walking stick which she pointed at people who were in her way, and stopped buses in their tracks when she wanted to cross the road. But however strange she was, she did live until she was 98.

                                                                           *

Small Moments of Warmth

I remember a little warmth,
Joey trotting the family through Norfolk lanes,
the small yellow trap swaying in the sunshine.

I remember picnics on Yarmouth beach
with enough blue sky "to make a sailor's trouser".
We ate cucumber sandwiches.  Penguin biscuits.

I remember dark evenings,
the small warm flame from a Tilly lamp
lighting the kitchen, and sometimes for supper
we had chicken, chocolate mousse.

I remember a warm holiday in France
squeezed into the back of a car,
singing old thirties love songs.

But will these small moments of warmth,
at the end, be enough to heat and split
the heavy stones that circle the human heart,
allow salt tears to trickle through the cracks?

                                                                             *

With very best wishes, Patricia                          

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Loved Unlocked

Dear Reader,

I know that this is one of your favourite pictures of a summer field in the Cotswolds.  In it, as I have mentioned before,  Ratty and Mole can often be seen having a picnic, and sometimes Badger comes too.

I heard a funny story this week about the ubiquitous seagulls and I thought I would share it with you. Seagulls apparently love eating worms so, in order to attract them to the surface of the ground, the seagulls pad their feet up and down to resemble the sound of rain.  The worms who do not like rain in their burrows wiggle up to the surface and get snapped up by the seagull.  Rather a clever ruse I thought.

I wonder if you remember me writing about my eccentric grandmother who lived for eighteen years in the Ritz Hotel, London?  Thinking about banks last week I suddenly remembered that Granny was the last woman in this country to bank with the Bank of England.  Each week she used to go down to the Bank taking the bus from Piccadilly, to inquire after her fortune.  When she had found out what it was she took the bus back to the Ritz.   If things had gone well, and she was in the money when I visited her, she would give me half a crown instead of the usual two shilling piece.


                                                                         *


Love Unlocked

What can I say about love
that has not been said?

I have little to add except
my sweetheart proffered
a unique key
to the door of possibilities,
through loving me.
                                                                           *

With very best wishes, Patricia