Posted by Tania Kindersley.
Sorry about no blog over the weekend. I got sucked into a rather unexpected sadness wormhole and could not haul myself out. I was too sad to type. And really, it was too boring to tell you about.
One of my students asked about writing as catharsis, when I did the workshop a couple of weeks ago. I said, rather sternly, that I thought one should keep that sort of writing to oneself. Good for one’s own burdened psyche; unfair to inflict it on the Readers. Everyone has their own sorrows; it’s not fair to indulge oneself in venting. Then I had to reconsider. I realised I had written an awful lot about death, here, because, oddly, it felt dishonest not to. It was all I could think about, and I could not fake it.
Well, I said, in the end, with a rueful smile; moderation, perhaps.
I go back and forth on this, in writing and in life. My instinct is to present my best, shiniest front to the world. This is partly because I dread dullness, and an undifferentiated angst dump is endlessly boring. It is partly because I think it is not quite fair to expect people to listen to one’s own sadnesses when they have plenty of their own to be going on with. It is partly because I have this odd thing about not being a burden. I am a huge believer that the mark of being a grown-up is taking responsibility for oneself.
On the other hand, if you are too shiny and impervious, you can repel people; they bounce off you like billiard balls. Generally, an admission of frailty with bring you closer to someone. They can sigh a sigh of relief, because they may admit their own frailties. It brings a tremendous sense of not being alone. Everyone has mad days and sad days and bad days, and days when they want to set their hair on fire. By contrast, the shiny people with the perfect hair can seem rather daunting.
So, in the spirit of moderation, I want to know: where does the balance lie?
I don’t know what happened on Saturday. I’m not sure if I was running before I could walk. Come on, I was saying to myself, it’s been 90 days. Good face on now, give the people what they want. Make a joke, have a rant, remember how lucky you are not to be living in the horn of Africa where people have neither food nor water. I don’t know if I was trying too hard, to get back to normal.
Whatever it was, it felt like something had walked in, thrown me across the room, and then left, laughing. So I’m in a bit of a crumpled heap. The rain falls and falls, and I hear two voices in my head. One says: come on, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again. It says: buck up, because no one likes a cry-baby.
The other voice says: welcome to the human race. It says: did you really think that you were going to be the only person in the world who could avoid the human condition? It says: you can’t just overcome sorrow through sheer force of will. (I have a third voice which says: WHY NOT?)
This second, rational, rather kind voice says: sometimes you will feel overwhelmed, but that does not mean it is the end of the world. It says: sorry to fall back on platitudes, but this too will pass. And: tomorrow is another day. And: the sun will come out.
So there we are. Neither a lyrical meditation on the trees, nor a righteous rant, nor anything in particular. Just a rather messy, real, slice of ordinary life. Which, I suppose, is the point. Although I do rather wish I could have buffed it up and made it lovely and shiny for you.
There are, however, as compensation, some pretty photographs. I took my camera out rather diffidently today, as it is dreich as hell, and I thought I would only be able to capture dreariness. However, there is something interesting about the light on a dull day. When I do close-ups of the plants, it is as if they are generating their own internal light, to make up for the dirty skies above. It’s quite odd but rather lovely. It feels faintly symbolic of something.
Anyway, here they are:
The newest tree, my glorious little copper beech. I fear you may be seeing rather a lot of this one in the weeks to come:
And the magnificent new cotinus, whose beauty cannot be dimmed by any amount of weather:
For a fleeting moment, there was a swift break in the clouds, and some light fell in, illuminating my favourite view over the garden wall:
Wall with moss and philadelphus:
The focus on this is not quite right, but I rather love that it makes the purple geraniums look as if they are floating in space:
A rather serene salvia:
Honeysuckle, in her pomp:
An old wall with green ivy is not such a splendid and gaudy thing as a honeysuckle or a rose, but it has its own quiet beauty:
And see the dreich:
But then here is that internal light I spoke of, as if the cotinus has its very own lighting director:
As does the newest dog rose:
Cotinus with wall and viburnum and philadelphus:
And someone really is shiny:
This look is because I am making her wait for a biscuit, so she clearly thinks that if she puts her Grace Kelly face on she will be rewarded. And so she was:
No hill today. It is quite lost in the clouds. With any luck, it shall appear again tomorrow, like an amulet, like a sign.