Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spring: pussy willow, shopping, spring cleaning, something new and something all too familiar.


Pussy willow (with bee).
~

Saturday morning shopping, it is spring and everyone is smiling, I didn't know I could enjoy the supermarket and its denizens so much.  A very small boy walking across the car park with his father, a large, luxuriant-leaved pineapple about half his height tucked under his arm.  In the shop, another lone small boy stands wide-eyed as a good-looking young man in costume flips crepes on an electric skillet.  The large lady with the short grey hair at the till in front of me, who now and then gives me an rather conspiratorial smile, is buying yogurty desserts and chocolates (grandchildren fodder, I imagine), some very sticky-looking choux buns, six tomato plants and a garden hoe of very traditional design, a large white cotton bra (sans lace or underwiring - nice to be comfy, nice to be nice...), a litre of whisky and a litre and a half of pastis.  She departs with a 'bon weekend!', looking as if she intends to have just that.

~

I sweep the front of the house and clean the windows.  I plant the blue room window boxes with light blue pansies, primrose yellow primroses, and white grape hyacinths.

~
I pass Tom his evening drink and find he is watching the Boat Race, and almost jiggling in his seat with excitement.  I remark on this and he says that he always does, he loves the Boat Race.  Well, well, eighteen years together and I never knew that.

~

Currently thumb-twiddling waiting for Tom's sister and brother-in-law to show up, having had a call from them yesterday saying they're on their way back from Spain in new luxury camper van and will look in 'just for a cup of tea'.  We aren't really on their way back at all so it's awfully sweet of them to come out of their route, but what with the loss of the hour and all we are feeling a bit pressured by this, and that our precious time is getting rather squeezed.  This in turn makes me feel guilty; why must I continually perceive and transform so many things which should be normal and pleasant into obligation and onus, so much that could be a source of satisfaction and ordinary human interaction into sources of anxiety, recalcitrance and even resentment?  Why do I so often recoil from the idea that anyone has any expectations of me? I need contact and the bonds that make us human, just like anyone, and if I didn't have them I'd quickly start fretting that I was excluded, isolated and unloved, but why do I just find it all so difficult?

Never mind, it'll be fine once they get here, or at least once they've been and gone!

~

16 comments:

Mailizhen said...

Oh, this is one of my favorites of your posts. The fact that Tom was wiggling in excitement, and had been for 18 years, and you didn't know - it's so delightful to find out something new about someone you're so close to. And the anticipation/recrimination/self-criticism over the visit. . . so familiar. So very, very familiar. XO

Barrett Bonden said...

Tom and the Boat Race are a mini-revelation; I thought people only watched it as some kind of patriotic obligation. Of course it could lead you to ask yourself what other wellsprings remain undiscovered. And then to ask whether their pursuit is necessarily a good thing. Today the Boat Race, tomorrow world domination.

"Why do I so often recoil from the idea that anyone has any expectations of me?" An interesting question and, if you don't mind me saying so, extremely well put. More casually phrased and it might have sounded like false modesty. Instead it invites personal reflection. Since I do my best thinking at about 04.30 am and it's presently mid-afternoon I'm unable to make good use of it but somehow it seems distantly related to a question I found myself asking for the first time less than a year ago: Am I gregarious? I'd always thought not but it seemed the response was knee-jerk; I'd wanted to be thought ungregarious but the evidence - viewed objectively for the first time - didn't support this. A strange matter to be facing up to so late in life.

As to your own self-examination perhaps the answer lies in the difference between the written self and the physical 3D self. And this should confirm something (I hesitate to jog your elbow) about your qualities as a writer. Too enigmatic?

the polish chick said...

thank you for the little taste of spring. over here, it is stil-17C at night and the snow has not stopped coming. and even though that is quite horrible and invites pity for my terrible location affliction, it must be known that even in edmonton this is unusual "spring" weather.

we huddle, we grit our teeth and we bear it - what else can one do about weather? that is my philosophical self-improvement project for the year, to accept weather. god knows i have no alternative, but i am trying to be gracious about it since leaving paradise and arriving home.

as for the other thing - i am sociable in theory. but whenever that theory threatens to turn into practice, i.e. actual guests are on the way for an actual dinner, i start to feel angry. mainly at myself for inviting them. "why can't everyone just leave me alone?" i moan and gnash my teeth. and then, and then, and then they come, and all is well.

we are strange creatures. still, in my next life, i'd ask for a little less introspection. it can be exhausting sometimes.

Plutarch said...

I know that feeling of anticipated interruption. It usually does work out, but it doesn't compensate for the ripples in the smooth surface of daily routine caused by the unexpected. What is expected of you meanwhile is something else. I tell myself that such demands, and what responses to them that we can muster are good for the character. Like fresh air and plenty of exercise.

zephyr said...

What a fun post!
i laughed with recognition at your last paragraph. i fret and fret then--almost always--thoroughly enjoy myself and wonder "why don't i do this more often?" until the next time when i get on the same merry-go-round.
My fretting is based on my lax home-keeping. i hate it, but am too embarrassed to embrace it in front of company. So must race around with the vacuum and turn off lights so, hopefully, no one can see into corners and on shelves.

Lucy said...

Thank you visitors!

Of course it was just fine. The sense of independence and pride in their venturesomeness which the camper van and their trip in it have given them made them good company who genuinely had no intention of outstaying their welcome. Bro-i-l, P, who is from South Wales, has a couple of catchphrases which we chuckle about and tend to imitate with the appropriate regional accent, one of which is 'To be perfectly honest...', and the other is 'Don't go to any fuss'. The latter is truly felt, he gets uncomfortable if you go to a lot of trouble, and now I've understood that I greatly appreciate it about him. 'Just a cup of tea' means just that.

With regard to expectations, I suppose there have been a couple of occasions recently where I've felt unfairly berated for not fulfilling other people's expectations of me, when a) I haven't been fully cognisant that such expectations were being entertained and b) on reflection, and in my opinion, there were no reasonable grounds for those expectations to exist at all. This has made me somewhat cross and refractory, and touchy about any sense of anybody wanting anything from me.

In fact there is no reason whatsoever that I cannot be asked to show a reasonable level of hospitality and friendliness to in-laws whom I'm perfectly fond of and happy to see. Which I did, and feel the better for it!

Lucy said...

Zephyr, sorry, missed you there! Yes, the clearing up for visitors is a pain, but then I'm often quite glad I've been forced to do it and sit back and enjoy the tidier house afterwards!

Catalyst said...

"Been and gone" - there's the key. It's sort of how one feels about a visit from the grandchildren - glad to see them come, glad to see them leave.

Dale said...

I used to get very grumpy about waiting for scheduled visits, until I learned to start tasks that would likely be interrupted by their arrival. What I was angry at, I found, was actually more the thumb-twiddling than the interruption.

Lilacs In May said...

Wow! I am so glad that others feel that way about hosting - whether big or small. You nailed my feeling on the matter exactly. I love blogs.

Dick said...

I too know that feeling of obligation and onus where unalloyed pleasure should be the feeling. I'm glad all went well - it invariably does in such circumstances.

HLiza said...

Beautiful narration of your slice of life over there..I can imagine them all..the part of our other half we had never knew, the findings at shopping place..(I do that all the time too..analyzing people I see!), the anxiety of expecting guests (my hubby was furious one time when I went too far and buy new stuffs in my attempt to please guests!)..Hope you enjoy the company and spring!

herhimnbryn said...

I was standing with you in that supermarket queue. I could see her with her bra and groceries!

I'm with Dale on waiting for visitors, I find something to do and then am not in an anticipatory mood.

marly youmans said...

Since today was day eleven of having three young women to visit, I ought to be wholly in sympathy with your last paragraph. But somehow I am missing them terribly. And I suppose that is a grand ending to a longish visit.

Anne said...

Whenever I invite people over for dinner and the day arrives that they are coming I wonder why I do this to myself. I fret about the food, the tidiness of the house, the decor of the table, the quality of the wine, and so on. But we need people to interact with. It's true that after they have gone you'll be glad they came.

Laureline said...

Lucy, thank you. Once again, I come to your blog parched and worried, and come away fortified by the lovely images you share and by your vibrant honesty.

I say it every time I come by, but I would LOVE to see you and Tom and Mol again. Funny how attached one can feel after just one in-person visit.

Xoxo,
L