A Quiet New Year

The day before Christmas Eve I wrote and photographed a poem called “Letting Go: A Quiet Breath” and the quiet days have continued here from then through to this new year of 2018.

In The Mystery, watching the sun set on 2017. Photograph by Clare Melhuish.

These beloved souls are my three grandchildren: Finn, 3; Theo, 8, and Eleanor, 11. In the park with their parents, Simon, with Finn on his shoulders and my daughter Clare, who took the beautiful photograph.

A little later I’m on the other side of The Mystery, gazing up at the Moon.

As night falls on 2017.

The evening passes in quiet thoughts of what was good in 2017, what didn’t really work out and what might change as the year gets called 2018. We call these new year changes resolutions, but of course some of them are nothing of the sort. While we can all change stuff like what we eat, how much we run and, maybe, the work we do, much else that we’d like to happen is in the realm of wishes and dreams, like always.

Still, we can all change some of what’s immediately around us, so this morning finds us back at Sarah’s allotment, where we’ve spent several of these quiet days.

Two against nature, January 1st, 2018.

That’s the last of the decking we demolished burning there in front of us. Together with much else from around the allotment that Sarah wanted to clear. Memories going up in smoke as we get her place restructured and ready for Spring.

The magnolia tree being ready and waiting.
We work on while most of the garden sleeps.

Working this plot of land together has been our meditation in these quiet days. Time was we worked together all the time when we were ‘a sense of place’ so we are well used to the rhythms of each other, the questions we can ask and the decisions we can take without talking. Our time passes peacefully.

I’m digging up a long entangled miscanthus bed.

Along with a sharpened spade and a fork, my key tool in the work is that red handled axe you can see in the photo. An axe for digging up grass roots? Yes. I’m no expert on horticulture but I’m becoming more familiar than I’d like with the woody and near impenetrable roots of miscanthus and would advise anyone who asked me, unlikely I know, against cultivating any of the stuff.

It’s heavy work in the rain-sodden soil. But the axe is a delight and time passes peacefully.

Meanwhile Sarah is busy constructing two new growing beds.

Fifteen years on from when she first constructed her place she’s been very happy clearing it out and changing its shape over these quiet days.

Not that she’s been off work all this time. Like many people she can’t just put her work down because the calendar says it’s the quiet days. As a funeral celebrant she’s been out seeing families and running their services. And while I’m writing this she’s busy getting ready for the five funerals she’ll be conducting during the rest of this week. Death as part of life, even on quiet days.

One of Sarah’s new growing beds, completed.
The other one, in progress.

The morning, as you will have noticed, is gloriously blue. But for once both of our phones have correctly predicted a rainy afternoon.

Which arrives in time for lunch,
But doesn’t put us off.

I love eating outdoors. It’s always a bit of an adventure and everything seems to taste so much better.

A quietly lovely start to 2018.
Here at Sarah’s allotment.
On New Year’s Day in Liverpool.

For me, I’m going to keep these quiet days going for the rest of this week. There’s nothing in my diary and I’ve got things to think about. Life and its living, of course, for me and these people I love, together with finishing the digging up of that miscanthus bed.

So I wish you a happy and a peaceful new year and hope that 2018 surprises you with good things you haven’t even dreamed of, and some you have.

May you shine with joyous life like a magnolia in springtime.

Yes and glow like Sarah’s new marmalade. All in jars and labelled up later this same New Year’s Day.

 

 

 

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