Literary Landscapes

I made a visit to the graveyard courtesy of an old friend. It’s a multicultural place just like Wool City of course. I tidied up, put in flowers – real ones, perused over graves of the golden oldies and tidied a few of them too.

It’s a pleasant day, cooler than the last few weeks. We took a walk amongst the stones. So many were of mighty people, with enough money to pay out for obelisks, huge Celtic crosses as befits  the once wealthiest town in the world. A section for Muslims and a small one for Jews, where there was a little synagogue. All ours are clustered together in one section too. Communities stay together through everything.

I don’t think there’s anything morose about death or discussing it – what you would like to happen, but then I was once a young Goth in the 80’s who thought it romantic to hang out by the Parsonage in Haworth, taking photos and doing rubbings of stones.

The last few days I have watched BFI films of the town I grew up in. It was once quite a slum in the centre. The number of mills present was astounding. How filthy it must have been. Now it is pleasantly green, and although it’s a busy, busy place and road pollution is high, the trees soak it all up and nature has found a way to come back.

What of the future of the old mill towns. Becoming green can only be the way, but til then, roads will be widened, houses built. Another mill burnt down in the early hours of this morning, fourteen fire engines were present. Grey smoke wafts in this direction, the main artery closed, causing chaos west of the city.

We must remember to keep writing, creating the stories, note happenings. Imagination and magic is all that is needed to breathe new life in to this old hell.

A trip to Whitby is on the cards – long time no see. That will appease more of my inner dark romantic! I wonder what it’s like to be a vampire and if there are any around here. So lucky to live in a rich literary landscape. And somewhere forever foreboding…

Whitby

From picturesofengland.com

Counting Butterflies – A Day Off

A longer weekend. We have rain after what seems to have been weeks of heat. In fact, it’s only been three, or was it four. I wonder if the grass will grow again, will it be green and long. No hose pipe bans here as yet. I remember the summer of ’95 and syphoning off bath water to feed the greenhouse then.

We grew all kinds of fruits in that little space. Cucumbers, loved by us and the slugs that found their way in. Peppers and tomatoes, turning from green to yellow and red, like traffic lights. An aubergine plant, a melon plant which broke through to the outside, reaching for the sky – no fruit though.

I grow nothing right now. But hope to again. Instead I go in search of good fruit. The local grocer has a decent variety as do the market stalls. The difference between a large lemon with  thick skin and a puny think-skinned one is all about aroma, flavour, longevity.

Aldi offers decent avocados, in a relaxing, meditative green that you’d want to dive in to. Piccolo tomatoes which smell as if they are straight from the soil. Clusters of beets, radishes, carrots, all bundled.

Shopping around pays, but it doesn’t have to cost the earth either.

I have gotten through a fair amount of writing in recent weeks and achieved quite a bit. There is now a brief hiatus as I wait for autumn to bring fresh results. September tends to bring change for me year on year.

As I go walkabout, it is more and more apparent to me what my life *should* be hereon in.

In the meantime, I have reading. Ivo Andric’s Bosnian Chronicle, Collected Fictions – Jorge Luis Borge and to finish Pullman’s latest La Belle Sauvage, which is delightful. Three more shorter novels on the side thereafter with cuisine themes, and a reserve at the library waits for me – George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo.

Someone once said all you need is a library and a garden and life’s just fine. Okay. I may have finally come to accept that. Except one needs yarns too.

Starting today for the next three weeks, Butterfly Conservation are asking us to count butterflies. Visit their website, download the app or chart. Spend 15 mins at a time counting. This can be done as often as you like over the next three weeks. I’ve noticed many butterflies recently in this hot summer, and bees. Just lovely, absolutely lovely.

City of Lights – a short story

Mia’s eyes were drawn to the lights on the hills around her. She found looking out in the evening both comforting and hypnotic. Her heart slowed down and she felt relaxed enough to try to sleep. She liked to watch the sunset, when the sky was clear enough. Its rays lit the windows of houses on the eastern hillside, creating an orange glow, an aurora radiating across the old valley.

She lived in a city full of life now. She loved it and was afraid too. In her corner of the mill town Mia watched the world go by every day. She felt safe because no one could see her. Her home was as high as the birds, in the tops of trees surrounding her. They flitted among the bare branches oblivious to the traffic at the busy junction below.

Sometimes owls and foxes haunted the nights, hooting, screeching and screaming. This she did not like, the sounds unnerved her, reminded her of where she had been before. She preferred the ravens and blackbirds during the day.

The city had a smell – dirt and car fumes. Although chimneys dominated the horizon, they were redundant now. Mia couldn’t imagine what it was like to have been around when the mills were open and busy. She was grateful for not being able to smell burning wood, hair and flesh anymore. She was content with her urban landscape and the smell of pollution.

Sirens and fireworks rang out at weekends from teatime onwards. Mia was anxious on first hearing them and didn’t want to leave her home to go outside. So she stayed in, all weekend, looking out at everything around her. The city was safe from her vantage point.

Soon she learnt to draw again. There was no one she could call her own in her new world, although the church provided some contact with others as well as tea and biscuits. But Mia didn’t want to pray, she wanted to return to her flat and observe again.

She drew all the day birds – the family of ravens who talked constantly as they moved from branches to gutters and back again. The pair of doves amused her. They huddled together over the junction, fat from eating her neighbour’s leftover chapatis, the branch beneath them bending towards the ground, struggling with their weight. Blackbirds sang day and night by her street lamp. The small birds in the hedges, cursed one another – blue tits telling the chaffinches to find somewhere else to live. Then the starlings appeared. There was nothing more beautiful Mia thought.

All of this she noted in her drawings. She became numb to the sound of sirens passing below at the junction. The blackbirds accepted her presence at the window every day and sang on her sill. Mia felt the peace at last, in her corner of the world.

 

If we all look for peace, we will find it, together.