‘There are times I think I would gladly die for a glimpse of sky’

Or at least that how the song goes in my memory. I also think it was written by Judy Collins. And though neither of these memories turns out to be true it’s Judy Collins who’s singing the song in my head, having added the word ‘glimpse’ to Stephen Sondheim’s original lyrics, while I work on Sarah’s allotment in Liverpool this afternoon.

The sky is the great gift we get for spending a lot of our time outdoors. You get on with whatever it is you’re doing, and on this afternoon that has meant a lot of digging and looking at the soil, then when you look up there’s the sky, different every time.

When we arrive this January Sunday feels like springtime. As much a feeling in the air as the light in the sky. A feeling of growth, of optimism, of ‘now it begins.’ The greatest period of every year when everything will be all right. Spring will come, the darkest days have been pulled through and I feel it from a voice within me as we are on our way to Sarah’s plot:

‘Everything will be all right.’

Neither of us are sure we’ll be doing much work here today, as we’ve both been carrying this year’s national cold around all week. But the place itself seems to take care of all that. Heads clear, chests clear and much gets done.

Since November we’ve been restructuring the place. Clearing old overgrowth, laying down new pathways and generally renewing the garden Sarah’s worked on now since the early days of this century.

We’ve worked through icy days when it was hard to dig and I even managed to break a fork forcing it through frozen miscanthus roots. But today is easy. Though heavy and wet the ground parts easily and what looked like it would be stubborn gets dug out easily.

There is also the clearing of something I’d never thought Sarah would clear. Her monkey puzzle tree.

If you don’t know it, Sarah once set herself the magnificently eccentric target of cataloguing every monkey puzzle tree on Earth. Setting up a website called Monkey Map and appointing agents as she went she successfully catalogued thousands of the spiky beings and got involved in much monkey lore and horticulture-speak along the way. Her final monkey gig was a highly respected academic forum at the Eden Project, soon after which her interest fell away. As interests sometimes will.

Leaving her with her own monkey puzzle tree, grown to adolescence now and ready to be planted out in its own ground. Which won’t be here. During the afternoon a grateful neighbour accepts it as a gift and we leave it at the edge of the plot to be collected for its life in another garden.

Goodbye then.

Meanwhile up in the sky the University halls site opposite has grown another crane since we were both last here a couple of weeks ago.

Back here on the ground it’s time to eat, drink tea and, all work done, sit and gaze at the sky. And while the sun sets on a late January afternoon we think and talk.

Everything will be all right.

The worries of the winter, things left over, things dragged on. Everything will be all right now. The air has changed, the light is returning, there are new ideas, some a complete surprise. As is the way with life. And looking up from where we are there will always be a glimpse of sky.

So we come home.

Then late on Monday we are back again, you can never get enough sky.

‘There are times I think I would gladly die for a glimpse of sky’

Listen to the Stephen Sondheim song that inspired this, even if the word ‘glimpse’ is contributed by me, here and sung beautifully by Judy Collins.

Published by Ronnie

Writing about life, Liverpool and anything else that interests me. As well as working with others to make the world a fairer and kinder place: http://asenseofplace.com.

Join the Conversation


Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: