It was going to be a really bad day.** The ME is using me as a punching-bag again*** and I got out of bed in stages, saying, it is Monday, and I am going to my voice lesson. I am going to my voice lesson. All I have to do is crawl to the car, unlock the door, and put the key in the little hole. Wolfgang knows the way.
It has been a really bad week for—not for singing, see previous about singing for sanity, but for attentive practise, so that I don’t feel a total fool going to sing for Nadia.† After my voice slammed shut on me last Monday—which was actually rather alarming—I gave it two days off anything but folk songs and Leonard Cohen†† . . . and then I had stomach flu and all those deep breaths and gut-disturbing diaphragm action for singing seemed like a pretty bad idea, although I could (maybe) stop worrying about the slamming shut, which was probably germ related. †††
I did sing over the weekend—a little—and I noticed at church last night that I was making a noise.‡ But this morning, warming up, I felt like I’d Never Seen Any of This Music Before in My Life‡‡ and did not set out for my lesson in a very positive frame of mind.‡‡‡
But fate and body parts are often perverse little creatures. I don’t even know how to explain what happened; if I try it’ll sound like gibberish to non-singers and will probably make those of you who would understand what I was talking about if I could explain it properly fall down laughing. The point is I made what Nadia herself called a Technical Leap Forward having to do with waking up the ‘mask’ sinuses and persuading all the various bits and pieces—tongue and soft palate in particular—to clear out of the way and let the sound resonate. Gleep. And she took me up to the high B-flat I need for both Batti, Batti§ and I Want to Be a Prima Donna—I didn’t know it, of course, although I knew we were getting up there—and which I do erratically have at home when I’m focussed on not paying attention and shutting myself down because I Can’t Possibly Do That, so I know the frelling thing exists. And as she pointed out, grinning, I sang it with no strain and no muscle tension. It’s the lack of tension that was so astonishing—she said, yes, your support has come a little adrift, but we can fix that.§§ You’ve made real progress today.
And . . . golly . . . you know . . . I may yet make a singer.
* * *
* Although everything is relative. See next footnote.
** It’s been a bad hellhound day for weeks. With the very, very occasional exception, Darkness more often than Chaos, neither of them is eating. The only reason they haven’t starved themselves to death by now is because I keep force feeding them. They haven’t eaten a scrap of anything today, voluntarily, for example. This is utterly demoralising for me even when the ME isn’t bad. It’s not the taste of the drug; they get three meals and only two of them are dosed. If they are having a unique nauseous reaction to this stuff—nausea which lasts through the third meal—that would explain it, but I doubt it’s that simple, and neither the vet nor I can ask them how they feel or why they’ve decided food is the enemy.^ Meanwhile although their output is improved it’s still far from . . . um . . . a neat pick-up so we persevere. Wearily.
^ Although if it were that simple, anorexia in humans would be less scary and less difficult to treat. I remind myself of this sometimes, on my knees beside the dog bed, stuffing cold sticky food down recoiling hellhounds.
*** I did survive^ my first official Samaritan duty shift, thank you for asking. It was a relatively quiet night which given that I was not at my best is probably just as well,^^ although I need some demanding shifts to get through the list of things your mentor has to support you through before you’re turned loose to function mentor-less. I did write a few texts^^^—and I hope you eventually get over that initial shock of, oh, you poor thing, let me give you a cup of tea and a biscuit.#
The next fortnight is going to be a little unnecessarily exciting however since I’m still at the tremulous beginning of learning Sam weekly duty-shift stamina and I’ve got Street Pastor shifts two weeks in a row too. This is from the swap with Eleanor—she took my Friday night before a Saturday-morning Sam training in June and I’m taking her Saturday in July while she’s touring great swathes of America with her husband. Meanwhile the ME needs to clear off.
^ . . . I’m here. I’m writing a blog entry. This is not the new Zombie McKinley. Breath on the mirror and everything.
^^ And I’m going to assume that hang-ups are not in response to my American accent.
^^^ My mentor, whom we will call Pythia, has a very good line: if you had written what this person has written, is this the response you’d want to read? —Since ‘I have a magic wand and I’m about to make it all go away’ is ineligible, like the cup of tea, if for different reasons.
# Tricky, of course, since they could be texting you from anywhere. New Guinea. Mars.+
+ A CUP OF TEA AND A BISCUIT?? I’M SO BRITISH.~
~ I have no idea what the cup-of-tea-and-a-biscuit equivalent is in either New Guinea or Mars.
† Although I continue to be tempted to take . . . probably Matty Groves in to Nadia. Some folk song with drama. I told you, didn’t I, that I asked her how you sing a maddened nobleman who is about to off both his wife and her lover when you’re a soprano? And she said it’s all in how you release the consonants. And. Glory. Yes.^
I may not have told you since I don’t remember admitting that I’m not a big Sandy Denny fan^^. I know. Heresy. I am, indeed, so lost to all finer feelings that I wonder if the Sandy Denny cult might be somewhat based on the fact that she died young. Nice enough voice but . . . eh. Give me Maddy Prior or June Tabor or Norma Waterson. The Matty Groves take that makes my blood beat hard and my hair stand on end is Fairport Convention after Sandy Denny, with the blokes singing. And they can roar, which is not an option available to a soprano.
But I think I’m still not quite up to eating the scenery for Nadia. Maybe a few more weeks. Months. Years. . . .
^ ‘ . . . And I shall Strike the very next blow, and I will Kill you if I Can.’
^^ But when the ME is this bad I don’t have any memory either.
†† Famous on twenty-three continents^ for having a vocal range of two and a half notes, and tends to write songs accordingly.
^ This includes Mars
††† Your Body Is Your Instrument. Why didn’t I stick with the piano?
‡ I mean . . . singing. Melodic. More or less. Probably. I wasn’t in the band this week so it didn’t matter.
‡‡ Mozart? And he was—?
‡‡‡ Although the presence of non-eating hellhounds in the back seat, looking forward to their Monday afternoon post-lesson walk somewhere interesting, probably was not helping. They like me wrecked by ME: I’m much more willing to noodle along while they investigate every clump of grass for the recent presence of other dogs and/or fascinating pieces of litter.
§ Oh—that Mozart
§§ She also said that if I can’t do this free resonating thing at home this week—don’t panic. But that I should only sing new music—stuff I’m working on for the first time now—if I break out Che Faro, for example, which is absolutely my longing and desire, I’ll just revert to old habits. Wait a little now, she said. We’ll go back to Che Faro later, I promise.
One of the nasty little surprises awaiting me at Third House* was the FRELLING BOXES OF OLD PAPER FILES. Crushed frelling boxes, just by the way, since they’d got mixed up with the backlist. But when Atlas was loading up his trailer to take backlist to the storage unit last autumn I asked him to set anything that wasn’t book boxes aside. And then life happened and the last few months Atlas has seen more of Third House than I have.**
It’s quite amazing how much STUFF is left after you’ve emptied a house. Curtains. Rolled up rugs. Bits of china you never liked and hadn’t decided what to do with. BOOKS THAT MUST BE SORTED. It’s also quite amazing how many old files I seem to have. Speaking of things that need sorting.
Twenty or thirty years ago when I was buying filing cabinets in Maine you could get black ones. Or grey ones. Or black. Or grey. Or . . . I bought black. But I did not love them, and I left them behind because standard British paper is longer than standard American paper and it wasn’t going to fit in standard American filing cabinets. I had a gorgeous old wooden filing cabinet at the old house, its only drawbacks being that it took ten strong men and a team of eight Shire horses to move it and that the drawers kept falling off their rails. It then declined to fit through the door at Third House. MORE ARRRGH. So I sold it, and put the files in cardboard boxes. Which I was going to deal with. Later.
Well. It’s later. And I have to WEDGE everything I had sprawled all over Third House into the attic because the ground floor is now Peter’s.***
I went on line. I searched for two-drawer filing cabinets, because they have to fit under the eaves that make the attic a living space for people who like crawling around on their hands and knees. COLOURED FILING CABINETS. COLOURED FILING CABINETS. Be still my heart. So I bought a PINK one. Of course I bought a pink one. Two pink ones is so obvious however so I bought a yellow one.† Yaaay.
Except that the on line description says ‘self assembly’. Golly, I thought, nuts and bolts. But I have my secret weapon, Atlas, so, fine. I ordered. And I had them delivered to the cottage because of the whole WHAT DO YOU MEAN DELIVER TO AN ADDRESS NOT ATTACHED TO YOUR CREDIT CARD AND OF COURSE WE AREN’T GOING TO TELL YOU WHEN WE’RE ARRIVING SO YOU CAN GET UP THERE TO ACCEPT DELIVERY. WHICH WE WON’T LET YOU HAVE ANYWAY BECAUSE IT’S NOT THE ADDRESS ATTACHED TO YOUR CREDIT CARD thing.
I don’t know what the self-assembly part is but two filing cabinets arrived today. I looked at them and my heart sank. I wasn’t at all sure even one of them lying on its side would fit in Wolfgang’s boot.
Wolfgang, my hero.
* * *
* That’s aside from the fact that we’re going to have to RIP OUT BOOKSHELVES to get Peter’s desk into his office. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE. What is wrong with it is that the second, smaller bedroom is now a staircase with a little angular wodge of semi-usable space around it. Arrrgh. Building regs^ ARRRRRRRGH. And Peter is so inconvenient as to have a LARGE desk. Why can’t he just balance his laptop on his knee? Feh. Half a wall of bookshelves has to go. Misery.
^ For anyone who wasn’t reading the blog then: I wanted to put a WEIGHT BEARING FLOOR in the attic for all the BACKLIST. As soon as you put in a weight-bearing floor the Building Regulation Goons are all over you. A weight-bearing floor means living space, never mind you can’t stand up in it. Or that it’s going to be full of boxes of books. Living space means you have to have a proper staircase. Good bye, second bedroom.
** Mowing the grass, propping up the frelling FRELLING boundary fence so next door’s evil little ratbag terrier doesn’t keep getting through and crapping all over my garden,^ taking over the garden shed with boy tools.
^ Evil little spiky-haired ratbag terriers are an entirely different, monumentally inferior order of being from, you know, bull coughcoughcough terriers.
*** This happens to involve carrying all 1,098 crushed boxes of files up the stairs to the attic again.
† I probably need three or four. I’ll worry about that LATER.
Third House has shrunk. I should have realised that the shiver in the aether when Peter said ‘okay’ Saturday afternoon was reality contracting. Oh, and the books on Third House’s shelves have all reproduced. In fact I think most of them have had litters. Arrrgh. I didn’t notice immediately, I was too busy dancing the fandango* and telling Third House we’re finally going to live in it.**
The red-shifted or Dopplered or whatever mystery of physics describes what happens to a house you’re about to start living in*** became dreadfully clear, however, when Fiona† showed up Tuesday morning†† and we tackled the surprising amount of stuff left over from last autumn when I was clearing out toward handing it over to the letting agent.††† ARRRGH. Fiona‡ had already agreed to come for a day and make me by her presence GET THE FRELLING FRELL ON WITH IT, when I still thought I was going to be letting it. But we’ve been haemorrhaging money on storage since last autumn: get your butt in gear, McKinley. So I told Fiona that she was to keep repeating: NEVER MIND. NEVER MIND. JUST PUT IT IN A BOX AND PICK UP THE NEXT THING.
The angle of approach to the eventual goal has altered, but the merciless bottom line is still that it’s Too Much Stuff and Too Little Space. But at least it’s our too little space again.
And you know the most amazing thing? Fiona the B is coming back next Tuesday.‡‡ To do it all over again. Which includes the fact that doing it all over again is necessary, sigh. Now if only I could figure out a way to sic her on BT. . .
* * *
* If houses can shrink, I can be two people and dance a fandango
** It’s a nice house. It should be lived in. Aside from housing shortages^ I have felt bad for however many years I’ve owned it that I’m/we’re not doing it justice. At the same time I was pretty discouraged about the prospect of letting it—very sensible, should have done it years ago, but it’s my house. I want my books on the shelves (and the floor) and my drawing table in the attic.
^ Which I don’t in fact feel very guilty about since one of the many governmental scandals that resurface when there’s nothing newer and hotter to develop migraines over is the number of council houses that stand empty because the local council can’t get its act together to have them set to rights. This would be less of a scandal if a lot of those local councils didn’t prefer to build new ones . . . which will need repairs shortly.
*** Usually they wait till you start unpacking your 1,000,000,000 boxes, but the situation here is unusual.
† Hereinafter to be known as Fiona the Blessed or possibly Fiona the B.
†† Well . . . um . . . it was still nearly Tuesday morning. Fiona the B had some silly story about a flat tyre. I had my usual silly story about non-eating hellhounds and going to bed so wound up I was humming like a gyroscope.
††† Unfortunately the need to do stuff like find out why the toilet tank erratically leaks^ and finally placate the ratblasted TV licensing mob who have suspected me of malfeasance for nearly a decade now^^ and enter into *&^%$£”!”!!!!!!!! negotiations with *&^%$£”!”!!!!!!!! BT^^^ has not evolved in the slightest.
^ and all you DIYers out there, no, it’s not that you just have to difflegag the dorgummer, because if it were the obvious thing(s) Atlas would have done it.
^^ She owns TWO houses and she doesn’t have TV in EITHER of them?? A likely story.
Yeah for Peter moving closer! Does this mean you’ll have to resume discussions with BT about the phone line?
Snork. The things you people remember. Yes. BT claims there is no phone line to the house despite the fact that it’s an eighty-year-old cottage in the middle of a several-hundred-year-old village+ and there’s a phone jack in the kitchen. And that if I want a phone line put in for the first time in eight hundred and fifteen years (approximately) it’s going to cost me a lot of money because they have to start with the Roman aqueduct.++ But Peter has said diffidently that he really does feel he would be happier with a landline . . . and I need my internet. And even Peter uses email+++.
I’m sure the hellterror will be happy- another pair of hands to pet her all day long.
??? The hellpack and I are at Peter’s mews more than we’re at the cottage. We sleep at the cottage# and the hellgoddess imbibes her morning caffeine at the cottage. Then we schlep down to the mews—pausing to pick Peter up in front of the grocery store because post-stroke he can walk one way into town, not both ways. I usually try to hurtle critters back to the cottage for a spell in the afternoon to garden, do the laundry, shovel the accumulation of whatever off the stairs, etc. I AM SO LOOKING FORWARD TO NOT HAVING TO COMMUTE ANY MORE. As real commutes go it’s piffle, but it’s just far enough that you can’t nip back for something you’ve forgotten, and whatever you want is probably at the other house. Hence the whole gruesome business of two knapsacks, three hellcritters and Wolfgang, every frelling day, no weekends and no holidays. And you’ve still brought the wrong coat.
I love it when procrastinating on something big like renting out Third House turns out to be a huge blessing.
Ha. Indeed. Although I wish I’d merely procrastinated about turning the CLEAN SHINY EMPTY FULLY MOD-CONNED### HOUSE over to the nice rental agent rather than having stalled at the gee, wasn’t this supposed to have gone into storage/what about ALL OF THESE BLASTED BOOKS? phase. Not to mention the overflowing toilet cistern.
That sounds better! So does that mean you will sell your place, too, and move into Third House with Peter?
Good golly no. Third House is LITTLE. And littler than it was a week ago too, before Peter said ‘okay’, see above. It only had two bedrooms to begin with and one of them is now mostly staircase on account of the No You Can’t Do What You Want to Do with Your Own House building-reg disaster of putting a weight-bearing floor in the attic for the 1,000,000,000,000,000 boxes of backlist. Couldn’t one of us have been a chef or a horse trainer or something? My idea was an attic like at the cottage, which is finished, with a Velux window and a fitted carpet and everything, but you get in and out by something more like a ladder than a stair, and removable. That would No Longer Be Allowed### Because Building Regulations Have Decreed That a Weight-Bearing Floor Means Living Space and You Can’t Live in Something You Can Only Reach By Ladder.~ As I found out when I hired my architect. So I now have Living Space I can’t stand up in (it’s still an attic) and a second bedroom that you could maybe get a single bed in. Maybe. If you don’t mind rappelling in from the doorway.
Or, if you and the hellhounds are staying put (although the hellhounds will have lots more garden to roam in, which means lots more lovely photos!!!), is it a lot nearer and more convenient?
Yes. In the first place it’s a BUNGALOW so the only stairs are to the backlist and Peter has staff (that would be me) to fetch and carry. In the second place it’s across the churchyard from my cottage instead of at the other end of town and in the third place it’s a short level walk to the shops instead of half a mile and a hill.
I am SO LOOKING FORWARD to having that garden again. I stopped letting the hellpack play there when I decided to let the house so I’d be used to the loss by the time I gave it over to the agent. But I was really dreading walking past it—and it’s slap on one of the basic hurtles from the cottage, there’s no way I could not go that way some of the time—and seeing other people and, probably, other people’s dogs in it.
We haven’t started using the garden again because I’m a bit preoccupied with getting on with the house.~~
Less stress for everyone, I hope, and YOU GET TO KEEP THIRD HOUSE!
No bothering with renters! You could put the backlist back in the attic! …Well. If it doesn’t immediately fill up with Peter’s things.
The backlist has to go into the attic. WE ARE GOING TO GET ALL OUR STUFF OUT OF STORAGE. I was staring at the walls at the cottage this afternoon and thinking, okay, I can put another bookshelf up there. There’s still a terrifying amount of stuff to deal with, one way or another. The only reason I haven’t just run away from home and joined the space programme~~~ is because I keep reminding myself that the mews, while it has the most floor space of our three little houses it has the least storage. It pretty much has no storage aside from some unsatisfactory crawl spaces. What you see is what there is. Which is bad enough.
Great news … It would seem your life will be much less complicated and Peter’s much safer.
That’s the plan, yes, thanks.
+ Granted that telephones were rare in 1200.
++ Start what with the Roman aqueduct?
+++ And google at least twice a year.
# Theoretically we sleep at the cottage. We at least assume a recumbent position at the cottage. The hellpack, by the snoring, sleep pretty well. Me, not so much.
## Including a frelling landline phone and broadband at a speed not less than that attained by a dead muskrat.
### The attic in the cottage was done up by my predecessor. I’ve been there a decade (!) and it was a few years old when I bought the cottage.
~ Tell that to Lothlorien’s elves.
~~ But I did buy an extra tray of snapdragons today.
~~~ Aside from there being no space programme to join, and that they don’t take clueless retirement-age-approaching women whose only degrees are BAs in English lit.
‡ the B
‡‡ I’ve told her the cattle prod is optional
I’ve been planting sweet peas and singing. My poor neighbours. Theodora is very usefully deaf* and Phineas seems to think I’m fun to watch and possibly even listen to.** I do keep it down a little when I’m out front; I don’t want the military chappie over the road to decide to test the army’s new long-range assault weapon at home.*** This is the time of year when my garden suddenly gets away from me. There’s usually a misleadingly serene several weeks in early-mid spring when I think I’m finally going to get it together this summer . . . and I have managed to keep throwing out the ever-better this-season’s plant sales BUY BUY BUY BARGAINS TOO GOOD TO MISS catalogues which is where I usually lose it drastically†, especially during those disorienting few weeks in spring when there are gaps where I can see actual bare dirt,†† and the careful, all-at-once-so-I-can-remember-what-I’m-doing orders of the previous winter have faded perilously in my memory. Despite this unnatural restraint I still seem to have an awful lot of thriving baby and adolescent plants out there.
So it’s been a beautiful day and there are all these trays of no-longer-so-little plants gasping to go into something a little more permanent. The sweet peas have indeed rioted on to a degree I wasn’t expecting and have all plunged through their crumbly pressed-paper plant-as-is pots and reached little white roots into the surrounding compost . . . oops. Sweet peas hate root disturbance and these will now sulk for weeks††† . . . and if any of them does send out a questing tendril, you can be sure it will snake along the ground and then twist up the wrong frelling thing. Bamboo stakes? Boring. Garden wire run through eye-bolts in the house wall? Vulgar. Iron railing uprights? Feh. Other plants? . . . Possibly. But only things like snapdragons and petunias, not sensible things like roses and my little corkscrew hazel.
Gardening. It’s still critters, just more green and less fur.
* * *
* Her daughter isn’t, but she gets home latish . . . although not late enough this time of year when the sunlight goes on and on and you can be in the garden till nine. I admit that by 8:30 if you’re not noticing it’s getting dark you’re really determined not to pay attention^, but this can be arranged.
^ You probably don’t want to be weeding at this stage: all little green things look alike in twilight. You can certainly be potting on however. Some day I will get electricity put into my greenhouse . . . and then I can stay out there all night.+
+ With the bug zapper on high. ZZZZZZZSST. #
# Why are bugs so STUPID? And this includes nice bugs~ like bees. I know that house flies exist to be annoying and mosquitoes are after you, but bees, say, they fly into your dark house and make a pass through your kitchen and rather than saying, oh, wow, bad choice, and turning around and flying back out through the door again, they fly straight past the open door, duck around the frame, and bash themselves against a window. I had one of those small-dog-sized bumblebees~~ fly into the cottage kitchen this afternoon and mosey around like a medium-sized zeppelin. And she would not leave. I finally put a glass over her and took her outdoors like a bouncer dealing with the last partygoers.~~~ From the names she called me through the glass she was not amused.
~ A generic term for chitinous critters. Because I say so.=
= Back, taxonomists! You’re not wanted! Back, back!
~~ Pav and I met the Yorkshire terrier lady this afternoon while we were out for some hurtling. I made the mistake of telling a friend a few days ago what a nice dog Pav has turned into and she’s been possessed by forty demons ever since. It was by email! It’s not like Pav heard me! The Yorkie lady is a big Pav fan although on days like today that takes some concentration. Anyway I swear my bumblebee was larger than either of the Yorkie lady’s little bundles of fluff.
~~~ I suppose I should make exceptions for bees that I find climbing into my indoor flowers. I wouldn’t have thought there was anything to have off your average windowsill geraniums, but I’ve seen bees trying. Also popular are cut garden flowers—as opposed to florists’ flowers—bees appear to believe that nectar and pollen go on being viable even in a vase.=
= These are deadheading accidents, you realise. CUT flowers for the house?? Cut them OFF THE PLANT? Are you KIDDING?
** Also I feed his cat for him—the orange ex-hellkitten^—when he’s away. He wants to stay on my good side.
^ He’s so little. He’s not huge even as ordinary domestic cats go—he’s probably the small side of average—but if you’re used to dogs, if you have dogs twining up your ankles most of your life+, cats are such delicate little things. I realise this is an illusion but in terms of sheer weight even Pav is about three cats’ worth.
+ Nat on the forum asked if the hellhounds are whippets. I thought this was in ‘about’# but apparently it isn’t. Surely I’ve told you that they’re seven-eighths whippet and one eighth deerhound##? Well, it ought to be in ‘about.’ Furthermore I’ve forgotten all about putting poor Pav in. Not to mention Christianity, Street Pastoring and the Samaritans—or even voice lessons. So one of these nights I’m not writing a blog post I’d better update ‘about’.
Oh, and hellhounds are also ‘entire’ as they call it over here—they still have their testicles—which entirety also makes them a little bigger and sturdier than most whippets. The whippets and whippety dogs that look like they’re made out of pipe cleaners were often neutered too young.
# Top bar of the opening page of the blog
## Sighthounds are notoriously bad eaters. Of sighthounds, deerhounds and Salukis are notoriously notoriously bad eaters. SID EATS. Wish fulfilment? Sure. That and cliff hangers are why I enjoy KES.
*** And the evil vargleglunger over the back wall, the one with the shed with the tarpaper^ roof that sticks up over the wall and ruins my view, I should spend more time on that back border and learn the Queen of the Night to accompany my efforts. Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen! Hört, Rachegötter!!
^ Well it looks like tarpaper, which is to say ugly
† Speaking of windowsill geraniums, I have spent YEARS telling myself I will get all the geraniums^ off the windowsills and outdoors^^ this summer to be pruned and repotted and given some real sunlight, which geraniums usually like, before that irritating fellow Winter shows up again and spoils it. THIS YEAR I’m going to get . . . at least some of them outdoors. I am.
^ And begonias, poinsettias, spiky cacti, and various random houseplants
^^ the Christmas cacti and the hibiscus can stay indoors since they’ll have palpitations if I try and persuade them that photosynthesis is good and the sun is their friend
†† Or in my garden, I-just-frelling-cleared-there weeds, self-propelling courtyard gravel, and glimpses of all the plumbing in Hampshire.^
^ But you know I could use a few more petunias. And maybe begonias. I seem to have underordered.+ And I need to get back to the garden centre, I’m still waiting for my snapdragons. Snapdragons are necessary.
††† IN MY DEFENSE I’ve gone on bringing them in at night off and on till this week, and I’m still bringing the basil^ and the recently-arrived chocolate cosmos indoors overnight.
^ Basil always says, England? England? Are you kidding me? You’re expecting me to burgeon and produce fragrant Mediterranean leaves here? YES. I DO. AND HERE’S A NICE HOT SUNNY KITCHEN WINDOW LEDGE. SHUT UP AND GROW.
You thought I’d forgotten, didn’t you? Anyone who lives in bluebell country, however, can tell you that it’s pretty difficult to miss bluebell season—if your bluebells are happy they spread enthusiastically. The wood I took most of this year’s photos in was drastically cleared out at one end some few years ago—they were dorking around with pylons and super-cables and things. The bluebells had only started colonising that area and that stopped them flat. But except for a narrow chop-through most of the trees were left standing and the bluebells regrouped and made another sortie . . . and they are now dazzlingly winning. That bluebell wood is a good, I don’t know, my sense of size is about as reliable as my sense of direction, sixty or eighty foot longer than it was twenty years ago.
I know bluebells are generally endangered or at least under pressure by deer, hikers, global warming and the Spanish invader, but as I’ve said before (at least once a year), not around here.* Around here they are ebullient and thriving—and may they remain that way—even if they are total thugs in your garden. One of my rose-beds at the old house was taken over by bluebells. It was a tending-to-be-dry border in strong sunlight, for pity’s sake, a few bluebells couldn’t possibly hurt, they’ll be too busy struggling to survive. You’ll be sorry, said Peter. He was right. I went through and dug out buckets of the wretches** one year and I had bluebells in that bed the next year anyway.
I have bluebells in my garden(s) now. But I guess I’d better be nice to them. Just in case.
* With the possible exception of the Spanish bluebell. But I’m not sure I can decisively tell the one from the other: proper English bluebells bow over farther and farther as their flowers open. A very rounded-over bluebell is definitively English, but a more sticky-up one may still be English if it’s early in its flowering. The Spanish bluebell photos I’ve seen look more like Scilla than like bluebells: proper bluebell flowers are graphically and unmistakably tubular.^ The bluebell woods around here are (a) fairly out in the sticks, to the extent that Hampshire is ever out in the sticks^^ and (b) old, so they have a good chance of being pure; also Spanish bluebells apparently don’t have much smell, and our bluebell woods are nearly eye-wateringly fragrant. Particularly strong this year too, I think, possibly because of all the winter rain.
^^ which to a Maine girl isn’t very
** I couldn’t face hauling the lot up to the ridge, but I couldn’t face putting them all on the compost heap^ or the bonfire either, so I took some away and threw them around in the wild where they had a chance to engulf more woodland. I’ve told you this story, haven’t I? This blog is too old. I’ve told most of my stories at least once.^^ Since it’s illegal to pick wildflowers or dig up bluebells bulbs I was terrified I’d be discovered and someone would leap to the wrong conclusion.
^ Yep. We had bluebells growing in the compost too.
^^ Except KES, of course.