Wisteria Moon




lace in the window
the poetry of clouds
rose-scented smoke
listening to old ghosts of myself

lace shadows underfoot
quiet cups of tea
blossom and ferns
dreaming of trees

one day I will find the path again
or else decide to stay
one day I will know for certain
one day I will believe



A Witch In Town



Down in the valley where berries tangled with old secrets and the moon went to sleep, down in the valley of wild quiet and tree dreams, lived a witch. The townspeople knew she was a witch because they said so. She said nothing back, except a few common words - bread, milk, please, how kind, that sort of thing - when she came to buy her groceries. Half the time she had an expression on her face as if, infuriatingly, she was not even seeing the townspeople, but gazing instead on something else - the devil's tail, perhaps. The other half of the time her eyes seemed to shine, as if tear-filled or enchanted.

She was neither young nor old. She looked like a rather plain woman on a purple bicycle that probably turned back into a broom in the valley. A woman with copper-coloured hair and long, patched dresses and a troubling smile. Of course she was a witch.

She cut her cats out of the night sky and gave them stars for eyes.

She caught wishes on cobwebs and ate them with her porridge, which was why some folk never married or got the promotion they wanted - the witch was why.

That was what they said. They should have run her out, but were just a little too nervous for it, so they poked at her life instead.The grocer's wife gave her the older batch of bread. The grocer's daughter raised an eyebrow as she bought seeds for birds, bones for stray dogs. The retired gentlemen, with war medals on their jackets, stepped deliberately in her path as she rode through town, so that she almost tipped off her bicycle, trying to avoid them. The women did not talk to her, not even when she smiled that deep, longing smile and said please, how kind. They snickered as she left their shops.

After all, there was nothing worse than a witch.



illustration by Ida Rentoul Outhwaite


The Water Cycle

 


Every day, beneath the tenderness of new sunlight and the quiet sorrow of fading stars, a woman went down to the pool. It lay between her house and the unkempt meadows, and when she sat there she could look to the candlelight blossoming in window after window as the household slowly woke, or she could look to the shadows of animals creeping through the meadow mist. Sometimes she looked for a little while. Other times she lay her face in her hands - because she came to the pool for weeping.

Every day, weeping, as the sun rose and dreams slipped away.

Once it had been that she wept for a reason, but now it was simply what she did come morning. She spilled her heart into the silent bright water. And then she returned home feeling refreshed.

But that was a melancholy household, where sighs wove a shroud around words. And so the woman found no reason not to go down to the pool every morning for weeping. And every morning afterwards she sat in the kitchen with softening eyes and sighs, and she drank water with her porridge. The household drank water - pool water, carried up to the house by servants, stained with her habitual tears and her empty sorrows.

And then it happened that the woman came to be with child. Thereafter, when she went to the pool in the morning, she wept no more but whispered small dreams that soon ravelled long and lovingly into songs. And she began visiting the pool later and later, for the sake of protecting her child from dawn's chill. So it was that, sitting there, she smelled the bread scent, heard the voices, coming from open windows of the household. She listened to birds and crickets sing in the meadow grasses. Her joyful breath stirred the pool water and made its scintillations rise up like wishes on the sunlit air.

At first she sang for gladness of her child. But soon she sang for the singing itself. And then she returned home feeling refreshed.

And song seemed to dance through the household's words, and they drank the waters of joy. The woman found no reason for weeping any more.


illustration by Robert Anning Bell



You see, I am somewhat adrift lately, and story has always been my certain ground, so here I stand a while. I know you don't like it, but you can always visit me at instagram for something different. The question of give and take with blogging has been on my heart a lot lately, and I've decided to go let it go and just do what I want for the moment. And yes I know this is an awful story, but I'm simply letting myself write, just as I let wildflowers grow in my garden, to nourish the ground for better things.


she dreams in storms and velvet




sometimes the rain
in your heart, in the dark
sometimes a wild sea storm

and you dance because you must
that's the way your body goes
your heart, your dark
your wild secret soul

you dance the world
that no one knows
rain, and sea, and storm

they would know
looking at you
if only they really looked





The Joyful Servant of Story

 


I believe that story has a voice of its own, and this voice, coming as it does from some deeper place of life, speaks with a truth that is healing. When writers allow story to be itself, without the imposition of their own ego, then (give or take the writer's skill) story's truth can pass through and its medicine can be freely used.

Sometimes it's even important not to think about the preferences of our audience, but to abide by how our creativity guides us, and allow story to speak even if the result is unpopular, unprofitable, or gets no response. Otherwise, I fear we are betraying the sacred gift of creativity. Of course, some artists want or need to make money from their creating, and there's nothing wrong with calculating market responses in that case. However, I personally experience a difference - not a superiority either way, only a difference - between writing for a temporal purpose and writing because story has come begging to your heart.

(Of course, too, some writers have things they want to say, or a perspective they want to share, which is a completely valid reason for writing.)

For those who choose service to story, the reward lies in the service itself. That's a strange idea in this modern culture where everyone is encouraged to want dominion and personal profit, and told that, if they serve (for example, through motherhood) they will lose themselves. But the secret truth is as everyone who has willingly served already knows: there is a great joy in it. I serve story. That's what I want to do.


illustration by Helen Stratton

The Frog Prince's Wife




Afterwards, she carried the scent of lilies with her, and the silver of light on the water, gold on the treasured ball. It was as if her heart would carry her back if it could. Back to the day she met the frog.

His voice was gentle now, the voice of a man who for three years had swallowed his truth along with well water. But then it had rattled against her bones much the same way his smile still could, leaving her feeling half-wild and fragile - all the princess shaken out of her, all the manners and charm, until she was simply a woman before him, seen by him the way no one else ever did. He had fished out her heart even before her ball.

And yet she had not seen him. She had seen only the lithe tongue, the gibbous throat, the specks on his wet green skin. The curse on him had been forced apart legally by her reluctant promises: she had known it as a curse only when it shattered against her bedroom wall as she threw him in disgust; only when the frog's gulp of pain became the prince's exhalation.

Oh how she loved him now - but she should have loved him then too.

He never spoke of those days. His voice was too gentle, his heart as kind as it had ever been. And perhaps too something of his desperation remained, for he kept her to her promises still, although she said he should have the bride he deserved. Someone with less beauty - and a more beautiful spirit. Someone less regal - with more humility. A good woman rather than a fair princess. He merely smiled his feral smile and kissed her warmly. For he was determined to break the curse on her, the curse of her self-disgust, and he knew that this time only love could do it.

After all, her gritted obedience to her father may have been what changed him back from a frog, but it was her love ever since that made him human.



the secret hearts of autumn



That time of year has come, the red-gold time, when people begin speaking of Nature dying. It is of course spring down here at the far end of the earth, but most of my reading circles comprise northerners, for whom Nature has begun to turn applewise, cold, slightly haunting. I have begun seeing poetic reminders that autumn and winter teach us about death within life.

But I myself believe the opposite. It seems to me autumn is the season of birthing. Plants send their seeds on the air, into the soil, and through fruit and nuts, to hopefully grow future plants. These tiny dark hearts wrapped in layers and baffles are like the great secrets of wisdom and magic hidden in old Eastern fairytales, only this story is the richest and most beautiful of all.

Plants also shed leaves for their own little bit of earth in anticipation of new life to come, ensuring that while they lie pregnant in the winter dark they will be nourished by their own rot. As the year deepens, we watch them go into a confinement in which all their energy is focussed on the growth within. To us it looks like death because we are seeingly selfishly. We are caring only that the plants have nothing to give us. But within the earth, where their existence is the richest, plants are busy with life.

I suppose I could say something now that applied this to human experience also. Creativity happens also in silence, or some such. But that's just more selfishness. The life of plants is not unfolded as a lesson for me. Better than that - it is an opportunity for companionship, empathy, neighbourliness.



ps, it took me hours to set up yesterday's template, only for me to realise today that most people would be following direct links and so they missed entirely the interesting front page which is what actually inspired me about the template. Reverting to this currently look has inspired a quiet train of thought about something I might like to do with this webspace, a new focus, and just in time for the equinox. Look for changes to come in the days ahead.


reverence

 


And here is the rain again, floating down with such a gentle voice, the way the sea sounds some mornings, coming up on to the earth: reverent. I like that today is subdued, a little rainy, reverent; it seems just right for the traditional day of observation for Ostara, the spring equinox, which comes officially (astronomically) on Saturday here. The earth is a pregnant bride and her lover treats her with wonder and care.


His soul still went on tip-toe before her, lest the charm be shattered 
and the dream dispelled.

LM Montgomery, Anne's House of Dreams


All the rain that's fallen lately has been a soft lesson in love and convenience. I want to go out - but it's raining, so I can not. This is inconvenient ... but how can I be upset when it's raining, which I so dearly love? Love is worth sacrifices. Infact, in the sacrifices you may find even greater depths of value. It's a sacrifice of time to make bread by hand for your family. But that time can be used for contemplating each of your children, and wishes for them can be braided into the dough, and your heart may ease into a calm and healthy rhythm like the kneading of the dough, the dreaming of love, the being in reverence for life.

 People talk of sacrifice as if it's something they nobly take on, but more often than not I experience sacrifice as a gift which blesses me.


 image credit

on a peaceful spring evening



It is the late cusp of the day. My front door is open to golden light and old soft tranquility and not even the slightest breeze. Birdsong is strewn through the peace. It's such a lovely last hour to a lovely sea-scented day.

True, the rooms of my house are hazy with smoke because I burned dinner, but I don't mind. It doesn't spoil the contentment; infact, it some ways it is actually an addition to the contentment: it could be fixed with a new dinner and all the windows opened and no need to get upset. I'm finally learning in my deepening age that very few things warrant getting upset. Why waste this precious spring evening being distressed by a charred pot? I have baking soda to clean it, and a sunset to watch.

the natural heart in the natural world



The moon and the morning star adorned today's sunrise. One blackbird on a neighbour's roof sang to the ocean, calling its long white tides to release the sun. Looking out, I thought, as Mary Oliver does in her new book"Softest of mornings, hello. And what will you do today, I wonder, to my heart?"

Yesterday I spent a little while in a crowded store and, upon getting home, had to wrap myself in a shawl and rest. This is what society can do to the introvert. But later on I remembered fallen petals and riverside blossoms, so I went out between thunderstorms for a small and quiet adventure on my own. The flowers were gentler company than shoppers, and I felt restored.

This morning, I read a quote by Thomas Berry: "Teaching children about the natural world should be seen as one of the most important events in their lives." The semantics of this actually made me sad, because if we teach children about the natural world we are treating them as separate from it. We are making shoppers not gardeners.

Rather, I think, let's teach children within the natural world, and raise them in a paradigm that they are as much a part of it as the singing birds and the early stars and the slow bright fall of a petal. Let's have, instead of a lesson, simply a way of being. This is why I love Waldorf education, despite its various flaws. It brings children up, and opens them out, as natural beings within the natural world.


(I miss my connections with Waldorf education. Maybe one of these days ... well, who knows? A book? A website? A teacher certificate? A playgroup in my home?)

May the day do magic to your heart.

the dark beneath the stars



Some people find their way best in the wild and gentle darkness. Perhaps that is why we have day and night. Perhaps there is enough of everything for all the different hearts.



I tried to write more, but that is all I had to say.



Empty rooms fill with light : by Asia Suler
Rainology : I have reopened my photography gallery and will be sharing the pictures I choose to take, not the ones which are preferred on instagram, not any lures for likes.



I thought I remembered going down into the dark to where the stars were. So I wrote asking my brother, and he remembered too. Into the earth, into the secret river, under a vast constellation of old, buried stars. It felt like a rebirthing, this going backwards through the tunnel into a black rock womb. It makes me wonder how many times we clamber back in, and are washed back out - how many times we are born and born and born.

How to Have a Real Life



I'm sure many of us have been informed more than once that we need to get a (real) life. I've made some observations and concluded that this is what such a life would be like ...

* Spent mostly out of the home. A person with a real life should be taking walks, looking at the scenery, immersing herself in nature. The home is less of a haven than a kind of artificial environment, almost prison-like, depriving her of fresh air and weather, without which she is stultified and wasting her existence. (The office or school room does not count in the same way.)

*Spent in the presence of other people. Solitary moments to refresh one's energy so that one can socialise again with cheerfulness and vitality is a good thing, but too much time spent alone is bad. Extroversion is the only natural state of a real life. Joys, sorrows, excitements, achievements, mean nothing if not shared with others (either in person or via social media.)

* Spent contributing in some definable way to society and the economy. A life taken up in the pursuit of contentment, personal understanding, or the care of family, is not real or worthwhile enough. Conversely, however, a life spent only working, without any holidays (taken in locations far distant from one's home, otherwise they aren't true holidays), and with limited connection to family, is also not a real life.

* Spent doing observable things with one's physical body. Contemplation is only of value when performed as actual meditation. Illness is acceptable if acute, but the only correct way to manage chronic illness or disability is to persevere with the above-mentioned conditions of a real life, regardless of any pain, distress, or deterioration which may result.

* Furthermore, the realness and worth of a person's life is to be determined on a daily basis by someone other than the person herself.


Blogs Can Change Your Life



I read an article about Ursula le Guin which grieved that she was only blogging these days rather than producing more books - for blogging is "a diminished form of writing," and never changes a life the way a novel can.

As a blogger, writer, and reader, I disagree with this. There are books which have inspired my heart, guided my own creative process, and confronted my thoughts. I guess in that way they changed my life. (I've never packed up and moved to another country or taken on a new line of work because of a novel, but there are non-fiction books which have persuaded me to make significant changes.)

There are also blogposts which have had the same influence. Infact, dare I say it, possibly more so. There is a power inherent in the brief, immediate, sincere nature of the blogpost which readily impacts a reader's heart and mind.

Because of other people's blogposts, I began writing poetry. And presented my books for publication. And experimented with homeschooling methods. And expanded my own education. And took up sewing clothes. And explored religions. And worked on improving my photography. And tried new things. I could go on and on. Infact, I sometimes feel that blogs (a word I despise, by the way) can be too influential upon me. I've struggled with maintaining a calm ground of selfhood while surrounded by so much inspiration and creative thought.


I want to say to all the women out there who feel they are "only bloggers" and that their writing is of no importance, thank you for the very real importance you have had in my life.


art by Harold Knight

Roses and Wild Lavender




The day is wreathed with storms. I have always loved a rainy Sunday, with the cosiness of sleeping in and then tucking oneself up on the sofa with blankets and a good book or some old movie and plenty of tea, toast, biscuits (the English kind, of course) while the house is lashed with lovely cold rain. I don't even mind when a sudden great crash of thunder shakes the front door. Nor do I mind if I have to go out on some errand in that rain, because coming home to warmth and comfort is such a wonderful reward.

The flowers were a gift to me, and I love how wild lavender and an oak branch were tucked in amongst the roses. I have been making flowers a special focus of this month, luxuriating in the beauty of spring. I almost never buy them, but scour the neighbourhood for whatever is growing wild on a verge or over a fence, as well as those I get from my own little garden. I find that flowers really soften my heart.

For my next story, I'd planned on writing quite a shadowed, spooky tale, but with all the awful news in the world these days I seem to be retreating defensively into quiet loveliness, lace and flowers, gentle skies and warm rooms and all those things in stories. Someone said to me that, if the world was going to end, they might as well embrace as much joy and beauty as possible. I don't think it's going to end, I think that fear is another kind of defence - a way of trying to control, in our minds, what is happening around the world. But I don't know for how long we will have proper springtimes. I intend to love this one to bits.




It's hard sometimes to offer roses and wild lavender, softness and quiet. I've talked often about how society tends to view women who love these things as weak, unintelligent, too girly. Every now and again it troubles me, even to the degree of writing about it.



i will wrap myself in lace 
and the fragrance of old roses
and i will write poems

about war and storms
if that's what i choose 

a woman can be roses and storms both

a woman can be everything she wants



I hope that you are giving yourself whatever comfort you need in these dark days, and that you are binding it together with hope. There is always hope, as long as we love. So be love.



The Healing of Home



As a storm tumbles around my cottage, I have been cleaning, although I don't think you can see much difference. I need new furniture! Sometimes it feels wrong to think of mundanities like furniture when the real focus should be on soulful things, but then again the home environment we create for ourselves can be a source of healing and dearly needed peace.

I think that's true also of our neighbourhood environment. My personal vision of utopia is small, circular communities centred around communal gardens, with communal responsibility for waterways and woodlands and air quality. Everyone working to support themselves and each other within the community and in networks with other communities. Fairs, gatherings, harvests. The old village way.




It's really about love, isn't it? And kindness. Not only to each other, but ourselves. If we have sofas and cushions and tables that we love, it's easier to give love to the world; to be happier, easier, more benevolent. If we have a little garden to care for, we may be more tender-hearted towards other people, because we've been softened by the dirt. If we see beauty when we look out our windows, we become more able to see it everywhere, because we trust in its existence.

I can't afford new furniture right now. My view is all ugliness. But I have flowers in little jars, and wishes washed into the linens, and some wonderful neighbours. And maybe one day I will put notes in letterboxes along the street, inviting everyone to afternoon tea. Just for now, though, I will go wash the windows. Have a beautiful day.


art by carl larsson

Finding Rest in Gentleness




It was a house where you felt welcome the moment you stepped into it. 
It took you in . . . rested you.

(Mistress Pat, LM Montgomery)


With so much trauma, disaster and degredation in the world these days, I struggle with writing gentleness. As a freedom-schooled child of liberals in the seventies and eighties, I did my part protesting, and volunteering, and applying my dollar judiciously. You would assume I'd use my small platform here to speak against the awfulness that happens every day. And sometimes, I wish to do so. Other times, I am simply too overwhelmed.

Mostly though I think it may be just as helpful to write gentleness. After all, the world is in such a terrible state because for too long ... perhaps forever ... we have lacked gentleness with each other, with our environment, and with other living beings who share this world. You'd suppose it would get better as more people could afford comfort and so were less desperate, less frightened; but really it's only getting worse.

And so let me tell you about the little flowers I bought today. A pot of pansies, a pot of alyssum. I planted them in vintage tea cups for my laundry shelves. Each plant was $1.50, which is a tenth the price of a flower bouquet, so if they last only a week or two in their cosy containers, I don't mind - although generally they go much longer.

I think there is not much more inviting and cheerful in a home than flowers. Not the glossy store-bought kind that seem rather unreal, but garden flowers, wild flowers, living plants. They draw the mind into a smallness, a quiet focus, so that for a while I can pretend America doesn't even exist, nor North Korea, and all is the innocence and beauty of the garden.

It's not that I wish to turn my face away uncaringly, only that if I forget gentleness and loveliness, I fall into despair.

If my blogging lately is rather cutesy, it's because I want to create words like flowers, in the hope they offer a moment of gentle peace. This is my way of contributing - a quiet voice alongside the important shouted protests. I still think those protests are vital. For example, I believe as many Americans as possible should camp out infront of the White House and other key buildings, unmoving, until change happens. But they would not be able to do so without warm drinks and blankets to give them strength. Those who can stand, or shout, do so! And those who have warmth and comfort to give - we need that urgently too. 


A Tumble of Questions




I am a tiny bit unwell, this rainy old morning, and have nothing interesting to say. So I've gathered some questions from tumblr, just for the fun of it. Maybe you would like to share your own answers to them in the comments section? That would be lovely.

If you could move to a foreign country, which would it be?

England, if I could live in the countryside. But as I have loved its history and literature for so long, and was raised with other people's love for it, I feel English in my soul and to actually stand on the green hills of Albion almost seems unnecessary.

Name three books you keep rereading through all your life?

The Anne of Green Gables series, the Riddlemaster of Hed series, Robert Frost's Complete Works.

If you were set in only one season, what would it be?

Spring. Cool, quiet, lush and flowering, with bewitching nights, wild-hearted storms, and lovely days - not too long - of gentle warmth. I feel such hope in spring, even though I know summer is coming.

What is your favourite perfume?

Rose for everything. Rose talcum powder, Yardley Old English Rose perfume, rosehip soap, rosehip creams, rose drawer sachets.

Describe your dream home?

A small old-fashioned cottage in quiet countryside surrounded by trees and hedges and a dreaming garden. It doesn't have a chimney for I dislike the sound of open fires, but its neighbours do as I love the smell of hearthfire smoke. A village is within walking distance and town not too far on a bus. My daily strolls would take me along peaceful lanes overlooking green meadows and wildflower fields. None of this exists in any part of NZ I have visited (although it used to) nor probably in England these days either! Thank goodness for old books; my heart lives in them.

What film could you watch over and over?

The BBC 2009 version of Emma. Honourable mention to Ever After and Ladyhawke.

Tea or coffee?

Tea. English Breakfast by preference, although Earl Grey for the quietest moments. I've never done more than sipped coffee once my entire life. I can not bear even the smell of it. Of course, everyone who surrounds me is a conoisseur of it.

Summer rain or autumn rain?

The former, because summer always leaves me so desperate and rain is a relief.


And you?

The Loveliness of Spring



The higher we reach to the stars, the deeper our roots must burrow into the soil. - L.M. Montgomery


I actually got a little sunburned, working in my garden today. I planted white primula, stock, alyssum, and some pretty frilly pink flowers whose name I don't know. My house is a cottage, and so I keep my garden gentle and old-fashioned. I also hung a jar of flowers on my front door, inspired by Denise Andrade-Kroon, whose soul is as beautiful as a wildflower. I seldom actually use the front door, but that little jar is less a welcome than a blessing from our house to the world beyond.

Cycling to the plant store, I had to stop twice to revel in unexpected flowers along the way. Tiny long-stemmed ones that surely were cousins to the violet, growing in grass along the footpath. Velvety white ones on a small tree, their lush white petals curving around each other as if suspended in a wild moment of a dance. The blossom I found last week has all shed away, so I feel its beauty even more now, since I was able to see it in the brief moment of its existence. Daisies speckle a few lawns and abundant floral vines overflow one or two garden walls.

If I lived in a more romantic neighbourhood I would spend all the mornings of this month walking, gazing at gardens. It's probably just as well few people here care for flowers.

Cycling home again, I found myself saying good morning to several people along the way, despite my usual shyness. This is what happens when you spend time with flowers. They brighten your heart and lend you their magic.


(At instagram I am posting a flower a day for September.)


Falling into Beauty and Love



My previous post was a quote from Nicholas Sparks, whose books are popular but not what anyone would consider literary fiction. I myself have not read any, although (or perhaps because) I watched the movie version of The Notebook. But I loved the quote, and I thought it proved something I wholeheartedly believe - that you can find wisdom, inspiration, and beautiful truth in ordinary kinds of books, romance novels, adventurous fantasy novels, comedies. Where ever there is love made into words, where ever there is sincere writing, soulfulness can shine through.

That is why I personally would never tell someone to write from their fear, or that it's good if composing their story makes them terrified - deep truth seldom comes that way. Fear not, the angels say. Open your heart instead to sacred truth, to beauty, to eternity.


nikolay krusser


I would also say that fear is the shadow of love, it shows us what we love. You are never afraid over something you don't care about. Even so, fear makes us close in, rather than lifting our souls to the endless peace out beyond the stars, beyond the walls of the world. That's why, if anyone asked me, I would say write not from fear but from love, hope, and your own inspiration.

(I am not talking about genre here, only about the source of a writer's creativity. Love and beauty may be found in the likes of thrillers and mysteries, too.)

Last week I watched a ballerina fall with exquisite grace and trust into the hands of her partner, who then lifted her high so that she was soaring. It brought reverent tears to my eyes. Never have words of fear stirred me in that way. I've walked out of churches which tell me to fear rather than fall into the hands of God. I've closed books which I know will not lift me up but will instead drop me deliberately so that I am bruised and stunned half out of myself. Clever books, classic books. It doesn't matter to me how wonderful the words may be if they are not made from love and will not, for a little while, partner me in the gorgeous dance of life. 


The Beauty of The Small Life



"And I learned what is obvious to a child. That life is simply a collection of little lives, each lived one day at a time. That each day should be spent finding beauty in flowers and poetry and talking to animals. That a day spent with dreaming and sunsets and refreshing breezes can not be bettered."

Nicholas Sparks

Nesting Amongst the Wildflowers



Now comes the month of proud sparrows singing a warding spell to protect their nests in eaves and blossoming trees. Now too the month of violets. I grow them in pots in my kitchen so I can put the flowers in salads, on puddings or cakes, and between the leaves of books. (Have you ever pressed flowers within library books? And left poems on tiny pieces of paper between their chapters? I think that is something the army of the kind might do. Small, gentle guerilla acts to make the world ever so slightly lovelier.)

Yesterday, I sat on my doorstep with a book and a cup of tea. I had to wear my sunhat, the sky was so bright. All around me bees and white butterflies enjoyed the flowers of the garden. (Not enough flowers - I need to add more, always more.) The pride of the garden is a lush rosemary bush, for which I've named this house Rosemary Cottage; it sustains many winged populations all through the year. I would love to have roses too, but my landlady doesn't like them. Imagine not liking roses.




It felt so peaceful to sit out there. It felt in some ways essential. There is healing in the warm, wing-stroked air. Just as there is in the rain. I believe we need both wild and shelter, and I fear our society has tipped the balance too far towards shelter, and there may be no righting it. Everywhere I look, tower blocks of apartments are rising. Will one day our experience of nature be no more than pictures on a screen in our living room?

When I see all the dystopian novels that depict people scrounging for an existence in nature bereft of human civilisation, I think they have it backwards. The likeliest dystopia is surely humans crammed inside air- and temperature-controlled buildings, safe from the nature they have ruined with their disdain - a dystopia many are already living.

So I grow little flowers, although it is poor compensation for the trees my neighbours keep felling, and I long for unkempt meadows, even as I clean and tidy my little cottage. Here at the turning point of the year, I am reminded deeply, by rain and by sunlit gardens, of the importance of balance.