A view north from Trinity Street, Colchester on a day in late May.
A few weeks ago, two robins decided that the garden shed was the site for their next nest. On Mothers’ Day, 10 May, I found out that they had hatched six chicks in a plant pot – high on a shelf, at the back of the shed. Day after day, I watched the two robins flying back and forth with food. From time to time, I’d peer through the window, and would catch a glimpse of a fledgling. This weekend, the parent robins stopped flying into the shed through the hole on the roof and out through the gap in the door. I opened the door wide, and stood back. No noisy intervention or fly-by from the parents – the fledglings had flown, leaving an empty nest.
‘The more one does and sees and feels, the more one is able to do, and the more genuine may be one’s appreciation of fundamental things like home, and love, and understanding companionship.’
Amelia Earhart, quoted in ‘Soaring Wings : A Biography of Amelia Earhart’ (George Palmer Putnam, 1939)
During lockdown the apple tree in the back garden has blossomed. The grass is now carpeted with blossom petals as soon as there is a breeze. The tree really needed pruning a while back – as did so many of the garden shrubs – but I like having a green wall between me and the outside world. Now, I’m happy I let it be. I sleep with the bedroom window open and the blossom is the first thing I see every morning when I wake.
To 2020, here in Cornwall.
Champagne with my sister until 2am, then brunch of Eggs Benedict and strong black coffee at Cafe Mylor in Mylor Yacht Harbour at 11am.
As a drawn-out, unpredictable, emotional rollercoaster of a sober October (my canine-supervised sobriety has been raising funds for Macmillan Cancer Support ) draws to its inevitable close, Frank and Zoe-dog prepare for winter. They begin to tolerate each other in close proximity for the darkest months; sharing fur warmth and firework worries. Tomorrow, Zoe-dog will celebrate her seventh birthday. A rescue from downtown San Jose, CA, where she was dumped as a tiny puppy at Christmas 2012, I gave her Hallowe’en as her birthday. The math works and so do her spells.
The air is milder, the days little-by-little longer, now, I feel it is but a short hop to Spring. In the morning, I leave for work as the sun comes up, and in the evening, I leave for home just as it sets. Winter is clocking off.
As this year draws to a close, I’d like to give special mention to all those I’ve worked with in 2018. To those students, lecturers, invigilators, administrators, fellow volunteers and members of the public I was privileged to meet – whether for the first time, or once again – you’ve been brilliant. You may not realise it, but you have. Really. Some of you unintentionally, but still, you’re gems. 2018 has been hard work, in so many ways, but each one of you built its story. So, here’s to Team 2019 and the next story!
An extra special mention goes out to those who reduced me to tears of laughter, some of you intentionally, including this co-invigilator...
The Moon and Venus (and a passing aircraft) as seen at 07:00 this morning, in Colchester, England. Taken facing south-east. A beautiful way to start the day.
‘It was one of those autumn mornings which are devoid of melancholy, when the weather seems to be cleaning its house. A broom of wind sent the clouds above flying briskly and kept the fallen leaves scudding along the pavements, the trees looked as if they were being stripped to let the rains get at them better.’
Rebecca West (1957), The Fountain Overflows