Thursday, 19 October 2017

Not-living and living

‘Why can’t I live on my own?’ I said to Frog. ‘It would be so much easier.’
    I’d been watching Chris Packham’s documentary about his Asperger’s and envied him his ordered solitary life, just him and nature and a clutter-free house.
    ‘Because you’d turn into a crabby old ratbag,’ said Frog.
    ‘Aren’t I that already?’ I said. ‘Anyway, why does it matter?’
    ‘We’d both be a disaster if we lived on our own,’ said Frog, trying another tack. 'We need each other in order to be human.'
    ‘Why do we need to be human?’ I asked.
Frog sighed. ‘Sometimes you just have to trust.’
    ‘You mean, that’s what we’re here for even if the rewards aren’t immediately obvious.’
    He sighed again. ‘Something like that.’

Perhaps we all have autistic traits, but sometimes I feel that I have no idea how to live. It’s only because of Frog who, by his own admission, is all-too-human that I manage to pass for normal most – some – of the time. (Or perhaps I don’t.)
    Sometimes I wonder if I even want to live. I feel that I’ve fudged things most of my life, avoiding the truth and taking the easy way out.
    I stopped breathing a few hours after my birth and it was only because of my aunt who noticed that I was turning blue, grabbed me by the legs and turned me upside-down, that I’m here today. Was that a warning of things to come? Was I setting a pattern? Even at that age, did I somehow see not-living as easier than living?

On Tuesday Ellie goes to day care. When she was younger and more troublesome it was a way of getting her used to other dogs and of giving me a break, but now I miss her and it’s only because she appears to enjoy it so much that we continue to send her off one day a week.
    At lunchime on Tuesday this week there came a telephone call.
    ‘Ellie’s been hurt. I think she needs to go to the vet for some stitches.’
    ‘I’ll come straightaway,’ I said.
    She’d been bitten by another dog – in play – and had a golf-ball-sized hole in her side. The vet kept her in for the afternoon, hoping to be able to deal with the wound with sedation only but eventually having to administer a general anaesthetic. (Ellie is rather excitable.)
    Frog and I fetched her in the evening, a wobbly shadow of her former self, dressed in a fetching onesie to stop her scratching or licking the wound.
Ellie in her onesie today. It fits rather cleverly over both her head and all four legs and then poppers round her tail.
She moaned and shivered most of the evening, not wanting to eat or go out for her ablutions before bed. She didn’t want to go out the next day either and I realised that because of Ellie being poorly and because of a whole load of other things that had come to either a pause or a stop, I had absolutely nothing urgent that I had to do. I couldn’t remember when that had last happened.

    ‘I don’t know what to do with the rest of my life,’ I wailed to Frog.
    ‘That sounds nice,’ he said.
    I walked over to see my neighbour S.
    ‘Are you writing anything at the moment?’ she asked, ‘apart from your blog of course.’
    S runs a small publishing company and contributes to magazines, so we often talk about writing.
    No,’ I said, and than I launched into all the reasons why I shouldn’t start another novel: they take over your life, there’s no guarantee they’ll ever be published (and  I already have two unpublishable novels languishing on a shelf), and while the highs are amazing the lows are atrocious.
    But perhaps I’m just fudging things again.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Weird day

The southerly breeze this morning was warm and sticky
and smelt of burning.
The air was lilac.
The clouds were bruise-grey and the sun was blood-red.

The radio was full of dire warnings about a hurricane but they didn't know whether it would it hit us or whether it would pass us by.
I almost didn’t want to walk the dog, especially when I got to the park and saw this.

At the park all we talked about was the sun:
we'd never seen it that colour during the day before.

Now the sky is clearing and the wind has got up.
In spite of the sun it’s cold, and everything is banging.

I still don’t want to go out.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Fungi - the good, the bad and the ugly

One of the results of being out in the countryside every day, walking the dog, is that I notice small changes. In fact, noticing small changes is a way to keep the walks alive. And having a camera handy is a way to keep myself noticing.

And one of the things I notice at this time of year is fungi. So here is a selection of my photos of fungi taken at this time of year over the past few years.

This clump appears every year in the garden in the same place at roughly the same time. I've no idea what it is but it's slightly sticky and not terribly appealing. Here it is a couple of days ago.


And here it is seven years ago, with Ellie as a puppy (pretending to be angelic).

Like most English people, and in spite of this lovely 1943 ‘King Penguin’ discovered for me by Pat, the partner of my sister A and an expert on secondhand books, I’m nervous about eating wild mushrooms.

The book has beautiful colour plates, which seem extravagant for wartime. I wonder if it was brought out as a result of food shortages in order to encourage people to forage in the wild.

Two of the book's colour plates: fairy ring champignon (left) and shaggy ink cap

The parasol mushroom (my photos again from now on) is eatable apparently - but please don't use this blog for identification - and very handsome. It often appears singly in the hedgerow . . .

. . . or en masse in fields.

The fly agaric (below) has long been associated with fairy story. It is said that if you eat it you will see the Little People, and another of my reference books says, rather sniffily, that it ‘has been used as an intoxicant by a few primitive tribes of Eastern Siberia’, by which I presume it means as part of shamanism. But please, children, do not try this at home, as the fungus is poisonous and dosage is crucial.

The same book says that the fungus favours birch and pine woods, being I suppose a more northerly species, but I found these examples near home in a tiny stand of beech trees between two fields. Which gives me enormous hope: given only the slimmest of chances, nature does regenerate.

I do have more pictures of fungi but I haven’t yet found them. I really must list (not to say index) the multitude of pictures stored on my computer.