A long time ago, I had a small collection of scented geraniums. In the winter they were left in too cold a place and died. Tom always blamed himself, and pledged that henceforth, no scented geranium would die on his watch.. We carefully transported a batch of the lemon ones out here on the back seat of the car thirteen years ago, and every winter they undergo a transmigration of the vegetative soul by means of cuttings, and enough always survive to be planted out again to ramp merrily in whatever part of the garden they end up.
Last year however, the survival rate was low, but I had by chance picked a branch in the early autumn and put it in water in the pale blue glass Muscadet bottle on the windowsill in my room, and not only did it continue to stay green and fragrant, but started to grow a very healthy root system, and was quite happy to be transplanted into the open soil in the spring.
So this year, we saved up seven small plastic drinks bottles, and the dining room windowsill is now the nursery to the next generation, this time being raised hydroponically. Contrary to the impression this blog may seem to give, I am not a particularly fond or passionate gardener, I frequently feel frustrated, defeated and wearied by the matter of growing things, yet there is something so jolly and eager and companionable about these little things, with their perfume of Turkish delight; they seem to smile greenly at me when I open the curtains onto the dark mornings, and to offer good cheer.
When I was in England, despite the fact that I have done very little drawing or painting for too long a time, I bought myself a small tin of Rowney pastel pencils, beautifully polished crayons, traditional pencil forms in natural beechwood but leaded with soft pastel, with just the ends painted to show their colour. I opened them and observed how bright the colours seemed - poppy red, lemon yellow, pansy violet, a light phthalo blue. Nice, I thought, but felt a slight, momentary disappointment; they seemed rather limited and limiting, glib, over-cheery and gay... Then of course I realised there was another layer below, and, see, the deep dull earth and dark colours: raw sienna, Vandyke brown, Hooker's green and Prussian blue. Ah, that's better! Now the brights stand out and glow like flowers on the ground.
Please, read this.
'I realized that in fact I was born into an atmosphere of grief, into a world of mourning, into a culture shell shocked, guilt ridden, & desperate.
And so, perhaps, were you.'
And while you're there, read the rest of her blog. If Jarvenpa were in a novel, I'd wish that someone like her might really exist. Reading what she does, makes me feel at once humbled and enlarged, with a sense that, in truth, I only barely dare to live at all.
'Before I become part of the dust that softens the edges of this world, before I am still, I want to care more, dance more, sing more, watch more free flying hawks, love more.
And since every breath could be a last one, and every word a last one, I am not going to be caught saying "I give up" . With every breath I am going to be saying Yes. Or at least...maybe..'