Dear Readers, after yesterday’s rather hallucinogenic ride down to Dorchester on the train, I went to Dad’s care home to collect some of the photos that I’d had to leave behind after he died in March.There was no time then to even think about what I wanted to preserve, and what I was happy for the home to use or give to a charity shop. But yesterday, I had the chance to go through Dad’s ‘bits’ and pull out the things that really mattered – a lovely photo of Dad as a young man, a photo of Mum and Dad on their wedding day, the lovely portrait that my friend J made a few years ago, and Mum’s address book that I thought was lost, but has turned up. Dad has written a few most peculiar things in it, mainly messages to his friend Derek, who was as close as a brother when they were growing up. It’s sad to see how his writing had deteriorated to a spidery line, but then I remind myself that even as he was losing his writing, he was rediscovering his creative side, and was drawing and painting. Everything, though, has the same lop-sidedness – trees often leant to the left in a most precarious fashion. I shall have to have a look to see if anyone has done a study of how dementia effects the way that people see the world.
So, it was a painful day, but while I was there the care staff brought me another box labelled with Dad’s name, that turned out to belong to someone else entirely ( I knew that Dad would never voluntarily have worn a pink cardigan). It belonged to a lady who had died and who had no family or friends to go through her clothes. At least Dad had people who loved him at the end, though I’m sure that the lady had had people who had loved her too. Maybe she just outlived them all. But being childless, it does make me wonder. Maybe I should cultivate some much younger friends. Any volunteers?
And today my husband joined me and, on a blustery but sunny day, we took a walk around the meadows and along a newly-discovered bridle path.
The berries are magnificent this year, and people keep telling me that it means a hard winter. Surely it means that we’ve had a good summer though?
I am spotting a fair bit of Himalayan Balsam, and i noticed some Japanese Knotweed as well. All I need now is some Giant Hogweed and i’ll have the full triumvirate of scary invasive plants.
This is such a pretty path though, criss-crossed with gurgling streams.
I might have mentioned last time that I did this walk that there are plans to build on the meadows. Someone recently suggested that the all-too familiar WTF could have been replaced with ‘What TomFoolery’ in Medieval times, and so I leave it to you to choose which of the acronyms you’d like to apply to such nonsense. What part of ‘water’ meadow did the developers miss, do you think?
We walk past a field full of the most beautiful old oak trees, somehow preserved and thriving. Thank you farmer!
And then we’re on to the new bridle path. It’s very narrow, and if you were riding a fat horse I imagine you’d be in trouble, but it is delightful. I can tell it’s autumn because craneflies bust out of every piece of greenery and dangle away into the hedge as we pass.
And look! A pair of roe deer are grazing in the field next door. For a city girl like me this is always a treat.
I love those long, slender legs, and the way that, when disturbed, roe deer seem to be spring-loaded, tucking up those limbs and bouncing away.
The heads of the cow parsley and hogweed look particularly splendid in the late afternoon sun.
And there’s quite an interesting deadnettle too – I’m wondering if it’s henbit deadnettle but as I’m away, and resisted the temptation to bring all my field guides, I am unsure. Feel free to pitch in if you know what it is, otherwise we will all have to wait agog (especially me)
And look at the flowers on the ribwort plantain! Very impressive….
And because it was a windy day, I thought you’d appreciate a little bit of ‘grassy waves moving across a field’. You’re welcome.
Well by now it was time to head back for something to eat, but on the way we passed this rather splendid weathervane.
And look at these views across the meadows towards Fordington Church. Could anything look more quintessentially English? I can feel Thomas Hardy firing up a few coincidences for his plots even as I write.
And so, tomorrow is Dad’s interment, and the weather looks good for an outside service. My brother is self-isolating following contact with someone with Covid, so it will just be a tiny group of us again, but I don’t think Dad would mind. I’m sure he’s already with Mum, but the act of putting their physical remains together will bring me some peace of mind, and some small sense of completion. What a year. It’s been full of challenges, but also of unexpected moments of beauty and joy. If nothing else, it’s given me a greater appreciation of the importance of community, both in real life and online. Thank you for all your support, readers. It’s meant the world to me.