Today I have had a quiet day, quiet and still and mostly outside in the vivid green of May sunshine.  It has been a frantic few weeks with change on the cards for both my father in law, who has moved to a residential home nearby, and for my father.  It has also been my father’s eightieth birthday, celebrated with an afternoon tea party in the village hall in Devon where my sister lives, crammed to the gunnels with family and friends.  There has been much visiting and much whizzing up and down the motorway.  It is too early to tell how these new arrangements will play out.  Time will tell.

But today Ian went into Manchester to work on elder son’s new house and there was nobody here but me, a garden full of birds and the blowing sun. 


I sat for a while in the side garden with a cup of tea and the unopened newspaper on my knee.



In the trees behind the garden a heavy woodpigeon flapped to and fro, repeatedly crashing back into the top of the tallest conifer with all the grace of a small bus.  A blackbird came whizzing over my head in a silent, graceful swoop with a beakful of worms.  Sparrows dipped in and out of the hornbeam hedge.  In front of the house the swallows have spent all day throwing themselves around in great arcs above the stone pigsties, seemingly chasing each other,  swooping and diving only six feet or so away from me so that I could see the sun glistening on the flying arrows of their blue-black wings.   There were three, apparently playing together, flying for the sheer pleasure of the acrobatic dive, hurling themselves at the bakehouse roof and pulling out of the dive at the very last moment to skim over the ridgetiles and back up into the blue.  Yesterday there were flying ants in the garden and I watched the swallows purposefully cleaning up.  Today the ants are gone and I could see no reason for the wheeling and whirling and riding the air.  It was all too fast for my camera.


I wandered around the garden and remembered belatedly to visit my tree, a little rowan which stands in the hedge up by the shepherd’s hut.  Last month the rowan was resolutely bare but it burst suddenly into leaf three or so weeks ago.  Take a look at all the other trees through the links on Lucy's blog.





There are bluebells and stitchwort at its feet.  The rowan at the bottom of the field is in full creamy flower but this one up here catches the wind and is a couple of weeks behind. The densely packed flower heads are still green and barely visible against the foliage. 



I worked in the cutting garden for a couple of hours, digging out the couch grass and creeping buttercup which are trying to take back the beds which we have carved out and return the land to field.  I wonder how long we will need to take out these and the docks and dandelions which gleefully colonise any bare soil before we get to the stage we have in the side garden where there is little weeding to be done.  It might be more time than I have got.

It is so long since I have had one of these days to myself that I had half forgotten how the peace of the place seeps into your bones, like the warmth of the sun.  Now I am ready for company again and for Ian to come home.  Do you like time to yourself and if you do, what do you do with it?

Comments

  1. Good morning, Elizabeth, from over here. I enjoyed enlarging the first photo, and imagining your view and remembering other photos of the same view at less gentle times of year. I like the sound of your day - enough alone time to allow you to look forward to company again. I am savouring my alone time, as it will soon end, as my parents finally sell their house in the east and prepare to move out here in the summer. I will most likely do what I have always done - rise earlier than anyone else, make a cup of coffee and enjoy the silence of the sleeping household.
    This is a holiday weekend over here, and I hope to spend much of it doing just as you have done - wrenching buttercup, dandelion and creeping grass from the flowerbeds and out of the gravel on the drive.

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    1. I like the idea of rising early when I think of it in the evening but it is a rare day when I do! Whenever I do I love that quiet house to myself. It would be easier if I were married to a late riser. You have to get up really quite early to be up before Ian!

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  2. I love (some) time on my own. Hope the plans work out as well they can for both fathers. Unsettling time for you all. Will your shepherd's hut still draw you?

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    1. The hut does draw me and offers something that the house never does somehow. It is partly the away ness of it and the scale and the sense of retreat. Love it.

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  3. I'm coming to the end of Andy being away for nearly 2 weeks. It's been a busy time and good to have the place to myself, but I'm ready for him to come back now :)

    I'm loving seeing the differences in the places in your garden I've visited.

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    1. It's good to know that there are people out there like you who have a sense of how things have developed, particularly right now when the development seems to have stopped!

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  4. Elizabeth, how well you write, and how generous you are in sharing your experience of a certain glorious solitude in beautiful surroundings that you have helped to create.

    My own life has a staccato rhythm of being very much in the midst of crowds (as on my subway train commute,) in the quiet of my thick-walled apartment with its access to my creative outlets and access to you and other wonderful blogging friends, and the in between. That in between included my unpredictable regular contacts at my workplace, my wonderful get togethers with friends, and my inspiring walks around New York ... on street sidewalks and on park pathways. Oh, of course, there are also the emails and phone calls.

    I do try to keep a good mixed blending of all this, hoping that quite a few weekly hours might be in that unpredictable, unscheduled moments. Being alone for a while can be very refreshing.

    (Admit that I wonder what on earth I would do if ever again I did have to share a living space with another person...or even a dog. Thinking that I would welcome such a life.)

    xo

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    1. I think one does accustom oneself to a particular kind of life. For a while I lived on my own and still relish alone time but I have now lived with Ian for twenty years and I suspect that my sense of myself as someone quite comfortable with my own company has shifted quite a bit. I certainly look forward to his return very strongly at the end of the day and I am not sure that I would be as comfortable by myself for long periods as I used to be. So I think people adjust! I am sure you would adjust very well to people and even a dog if you wished to!

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  5. I long for peace and quietness, but with the campsite behind the garden and a road ( albeit a back road with little traffic) in front there always seems to be movement and some noise. Even cyclists go by in groups shouting to each other.

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    1. It is hard to find real quiet isn't it? We are pretty quiet here when there is no machinery working up at the farm next door but even here there is likely to be the sound of tractors or lorries coming and going somewhere at sometime in the day. Mind you there will also be some time when the only sounds as natural ones, birds in particular.

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  6. So beautiful - such a lovely glimpse of England.

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  7. What a truly wonderful day it sounds to have been!

    I am perfectly happy with my own company, and in fact I spend most of my days alone as the mister works long hours, but with six dogs about the place I always have company of a sort :)

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    1. I have my daughter's dog for company today and that feels rather different to being on my own even though she is mostly snoozing, different in a nice way!

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  8. I'm a glutton for solitary time, I must admit. I'm glad you're getting some well-deserved quiet time, and I hope you're taking care of yourself during this transition time -- it's tough, I know, seeing our parents through these stages.

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    1. Trying hard to take care of ourselves Mater. It is easy to be overwhelmed and we are both putting conscious effort into stepping back and breathing from time to time!

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  9. Dear Elizabeth,

    The children have just flitted off to school and I am allowing myself a few moments of peace before getting on with things. What a pleasure it is to read your garden prose. I wish you and your respective fathers serenity and luck with the changes afoot. It is strange to think that my father, who I spent precious time with this past weekend, is over a decade older than yours. This grand, marvellous age of his has made me all the more aware of the passing of time.

    Time spent alone is a necessity for me and I usually fill it with something 'creative' and walking. These are all necessary ingredients to help me unwind from the joys and pressures of family life.

    Thinking of you,

    Stephanie

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    1. Just sitting down alone to a sandwich lunch and wishing it would stop raining! Still the peace and quiet is good, for an hour or two. Thanks for your good wishes. I hope your father continues to thrive!

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  10. What a lovely day you describe.... Your FIL moving into a retirement home will certainly make life different for you. I'm always struck by the grace with which you accept change or variable family demands on you, and glad that you do have time alone to savour your home and garden. I love having some time to myself, but after so many years of it in abundance, am always glad to see The Gardener pull up outside after a day's work. Balance in all things, I guess.....

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    1. What a lovely thing to say about grace. We do try to go with the flow when there is nothing else to be done I suppose! Yes about balance. You don't notice it when you have it half as much as when you don't.

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  11. There is nothing like having a sunny day in May to have all to yourself in the garden. It is wonderful to do what you did and take time to prowl round looking at everything and watching the birds. These moments are all too rare.
    You live in such a beautiful part of the world. I have just spent a week in Wales and enjoyed the wonderful scenery.

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    1. If you come again to North Wales you must let me know and come and say hello. We are in the Gateway to Wales so are on the way to almost everywhere in the North. I see you went to Portmeirion. Must go too. It's not far away I just don't get round to it in that rather pathetic way that afflicts people about things on their own doorstep.

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  12. Lovey bird observations. I quite agree about where they get the insects from, as a child I remember such messy windscreens - never a problem now.

    As for the alone time, I wonder if anyone else worries as I do that too much aloneness makes me less and less fit for company. I love it, but I'm not sure it's good for my soul, too seductive. And it gives me the impression that I am always right, what are the chances of that?

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    1. I agree about the way too much alone time can confirm me in my prejudices and make me shut down a bit. Balance as Rachel says, if only one can find it.

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  13. Your side garden looks beautiful Elizabeth, what a wonderful place to spend time not-reading. So sorry you have such challenging times to deal with, hope you get enough bursts of time in the garden to refresh you. I don't just occasionally want time to myself, I need it, preferably in the garden. Without it I get over tired and grumpy. But then I need Peter back again. I'm very demanding!

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    1. I think I am just like this. I need the alone time and then I need the company. Too much alone time and I become almost lethargic and too quiet. Too much company time and I feel almost physically frayed at the edges.

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  14. It is all about balance, isn't it?

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