Seasons Of Life

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Utley Cemetery is being reclaimed. A lot of slashing and clearing has revealed gravestones that have long been hidden beneath ivy and laurel, and others have emerged from the shadows of overhanging branches. Walking there now is more of a suburban stroll rather than an expedition into the wild, and I have mixed feelings about this.

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It used to be a place of overgrown beauty and a haven for wildlife where I’d go to watch rabbits and squirrels and all kinds of birds, though admittedly on grey winter days it did have a gloomy quality that bordered on gothic horror. In some places this hasn’t changed much. In fact, stripping back the undergrowth has made things worse.

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The Victorians who landscaped the place created terraces on the sloping hillside and planted cedar trees and yew, all of which a hundred and fifty years later have grown predictably massive and remind me of pictures I’ve seen of Ankor Wat. What did they think would happen? Did they intend it? I’d love to know.

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Some of the tombs are actually small mausoleums, and have doors – one of which has a handle that’s also a knocker….

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…and when I examined this more closely I could see that it’s polished and shiny with use. People grasp this, and knock on the door. What are they expecting?

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Seasons is the current weekly photo challenge.

Drawing Today, Remembering Tomorrow

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Sometimes drawing the everyday is not at all an every day thing. When you know something is going to happen, when there’s a goodbye to be said.

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Polly was only with us for a little over a year but she was more than 20 years old; she was mostly well, just increasingly stiff, a bit deaf, only able to eat a little at a time. And during that time she was gradually more conversational (she had a range of sounds that steadily expanded as well as a very expressive silent miaow for talking face to face at close quarters) and increasingly more loving. From above she looked like a bundle of autumn leaves. Underneath she was creamy white, silky soft, and she had the smallest little round front paws on any cat I’ve ever seen. She was gentle, polite, determined, and as time wore on a bit absent minded.

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Old age catches up. Eventually there was more pain from arthritis, and then other failings. It’s so hard to know when it’s time to say enough is enough, but when the suffering gets to a certain point you know the time has come to let go.

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Yesterday was that day. The rest of the day was full of sadness and the days to come will still feel empty and strange. I find myself still speaking her name and expecting to see her when I open a door or come into a room. Her chair is empty. Her dishes all put away, the litter tray gone, her basket packed up and hidden in the garage. Tears come suddenly at unexpected moments when I know her to be gone. Once again we are going through the pain of losing a friend, a special companion, a small creature who came to us because she wanted to and decided to stay. We loved her, and we won’t forget.
Love never stops.

There’s So Much More To A Macaw

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I heard through the WordPress cyber-grapevine that yesterday was Draw a Bird Day. (I wonder sometimes how many days designated for this or that there are in the course of a year – and how they come into being. It seems there’s almost no activity that doesn’t have its own special day.) Anyway I went up to the museum a few days ago where I sketched this macaw because of an article I read last week on parrots and healing post traumatic stress – and after having learnt such surprising things recently about crows, this fascinated me even more.

I’ve always known that parrots are sensitive and highly intelligent but I was deeply moved by this piece from the New York Times titled What Do Parrots Know About PTSD, and I’ll never think about parrots in the same way again. (It’s a longish read, but if you do skip any of it, whatever you do don’t miss the final paragraph).

There’s so much we have to learn from other living creatures, so much we can give to each other if we are attentive, respectful, compassionate. As I sketched this macaw I wished I knew more about it; I don’t even know if it’s a male or a female – and what sort of a life did he or she have? Who did she live with? Who cared for her? Who loved her and who did she love?

It seems I always come away from a drawing with more questions than answers.

Finding Time

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This is my grandfather’s pocket watch, which usually lies hidden at the back of a drawer along with other assorted things I’ve kept since I was a child. From time to time I think of it and remember where it is, and sometimes I’ll go and rummage about and find it, and hold it in my hand.

I’m glad I still have this thing that was once his. I used to have others – I remember a little wooden snuff box that still smelt tantalisingly of snuff – but no amount of thinking or rummaging in drawers will bring this back. It’s gone, and exists only in my memory.

I was still very young when my grandfather died and my memory of him is hazy and dim. But this watch, this small thing that he must have held often, and handled – it lies in my hand, smooth and round and surprisingly heavy, and I think of him. In another hundred years, or even in 50, what object that I use every day could find its way into another’s hand and be so full of delight? I can think of nothing at all.

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Weekly photo challenge: time