Alexander Averin

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

The cold continues

Dear Diary,

We spend January walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives... not looking for flaws, but for potential. ~Ellen Goodman

No, it’s not me. This is a photo of the woman who is always to be found in next door’s garden and who sits by their duck pond most of the year. (Luckily she doesn’t seem to feel the cold). Probably to celebrate Christmas she has recently had a new outfit and her make-up has been re-touched; she is rather a beauty don’t you think?

It was minus 9.5 last night, I slept under a mountain of duvets and a quilt and cuddled my hot water bottle. Even so, my body was crying out for a hot bath this morning so. as it is a non-work day, I indulged its desires. I ran a bath and added some of my new lavender bath stuff that my daughter bought me for Christmas and mixed it with a couple of drops of my much-loved tea-tree oil. The water was deliciously warm and certainly got my (poor) circulation going. I have always had poor circulation, it must be an inherited thing. As I relaxed into the water I listened to Woman’s Hour which I always enjoy and I have to say it was a real morning treat. I vow to take more baths in future, either in the mornings or the evenings as they are so relaxing and warming, especially at this time of year. So that can be my first resolution, to have more baths. It is a rather pathetic one isn’t it? Other resolutions? I haven’t really made any but I must put my mind to 2009 because it is a subject for writing homework.

The river is frozen again and now there are parts that weren’t affected before that have succumbed. I keep forgetting my camera when I take the dogs for their run in the field. The birds are getting through their food at an alarming rate so we made a special trip out on Monday to stock up with more peanuts and seeds and M even bought a loaf of white sliced 'plastic' bread for them. I have to say that the message from the birds this morning was ‘What do you call this then? Not bread surely!’ They are used to M’s delicious home-made bread you see.

This is Sammy Squirrel proving that he can climb up the pole and reach the nuts. See how he rests his bottom on the iced up water tray - it must be cold!

All is quiet around these parts but I think that local plumbers have been kept very busy dealing with burst pipes. Some schools have not re-opened for the new term - two of my grand-daughters are still off school, much to their delight.

I’m reading a delicious book at the moment, it is Oystercatchers by Susan Fletcher, (a rather ‘plain’ name I feel for such a gifted writer); she wrote the excellent Eve Green, that is another ‘must-read’.

Before I go this is a poem by Caroline Bird who won a Young Poet prize recently, it may have been the Dylan Thomas one. I heard her on Woman’s Hour on Monday where she read her moving poem ‘Women in Progress’ She is a wonderful poet, so young but with such amazing talent. For a New Year, 2009 poem this one beats all.

Women in Progress

(an exaltation for the 14 year old girls in my poetry workshops)

Gemma would take her hair-straighteners
to a desert island but she’s no stereotype.
I hope she nails her sonnet (and that lad) in 2009.
Maxie has a puppy-dog hidden
in the kennel of her chest. Publicly
she thumps her jewellery, roaring ‘your mum!’
I hope she acts herself in 2009.
Salena’s best friend betrayed her. Now
she must audition new friends in the lunch-hall.
I hope she finds hundreds in 2009.
Zoe shields her largeness with her library books
- Point Horror - walks the weaker kids home
through the path of least-bullies.
I hope her mum gets better in 2009.
People think Rachel’s got a Loser badge
pinned to her hoodie but I’ve read her poetry
and she’s got the perfect simile for sky.
I hope she goes to sixth form in 2009.
Because you’ll break my heart, 2009,
if you show me again those tired teachers flexing red pens.
And a drowning poet saying ‘you could be anything’
to an oversized class in an undersized room.
Don’t show me the future in their faces:
girls waving pom-poms at the fringes of the football field,
girls feeling fat behind tills. A knockers joke
in every Christmas cracker. Tell an honest one, 2009.
Tell me the one about the woman
who dug a tunnel through the system and set forth.
She had panda-eyes but an independent tear.

I will sign off now but send you the warmest wishes,



ChrisH said...

What an enjoyable post from start to finish beginning with that quote (so true), through the lady in the garden who made me feel even colder, to the posem. But, ooh, very excited about the book recommendation - will leap off to Amazon to have a look.

Nan said...

Oh my gosh, I want to know more about that poet! It is an excellent, excellent poem. Wow. Thank you. I'm off to look up this Caroline Bird who must be famous someday.

I love the Ellen G. words about January. Isn't it just the truth. And I've just read your sidebar, Cait -about being a 'good news reporter.' No wonder I like being here. I'd like to know more about Ireland being your 'spiritual' home. Were you born there, or have relatives there? Silly of me to ask with your most Irish of names. :<) Is it really Caitriona?

willow said...

"Don't show me the future in their faces". I like that line. Stay warm. Your bath sounded absolutely luxurious!

kissa said...

I have read this blog with enjoyment.Porridge with honey on a cold morning warms the soul from the very core. Off to add the novel and also Caroline Bird to my "must get from the library" list.Thanks. Another cold night in store here too.

Fennie said...

Ah - there perils of living in the heart of rural Wales! At only minus 5 it is quite balmy down here by comparison. We are kept warm by the Bristol Channel. But I feel sorry for the birds, it can't be so very warm in a corner of the wood at half past three in the morning - not if you're a wren with a body the size of an acorn. Still they survive. And that's enough of a resolution for 2009. Manage to avoid the cats!

Leenie said...

Sorry you are getting the unusual cold. Hope they get a coat for the lady in the garden. Squirrels only found our town in the last decade or so. They are such clever clowns. Our weather went from a week of -11F(-24C) to above freezing with water running everywhere.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I am in love with that poem!!

Pam said...

Great poem! Yes Cait, I love my hot water bottle too, and after proper bread the "plastic bread" is hard to take whether you have a beak or not! Thanks to the arrival here in Australia of a neighbouring family from Afghanistan we have discovered a little- known tucked away bakery where the new arrivals to this country shop - the most divine piece of huge flat bread, warm from the oven,is wrapped in butcher paper, and handed over for $1.50. We are addicted. I have it dipped in yoghurt. My mother,in her eighties bless her, insists on toasting it with lashings of butter and Marmalade, much to the amusement of all.Keep warm!

Pondside said...

I love that poem!.......and your neighbours' lady in the garden. You must live in an interesting neighbourhood.
Reading this post also made me long for a hot bath, so that's what I'll do in just a few minuts!

-Ann said...

When I went to bed yesterday under my mountain of duvets, I noticed that the dogs were both curled up in tight little balls. Toby was hiding his nose in his bushy tail. Poor Callie, whose tail is a thin whip, had to cover her face with both her paws.

They looked so pathetic, I had to turn the heat up. That's when you know it's COLD - when you're worried about animals with thick fur coats!

Pipany said...

Good morning Cait. Beautiful picture of the squirrel. I adore my baths too and love the indulgence of it all, but somehow I seem to rush them at the moment. Your post reminds me to take time for ourselves. I have read The Oystercatchers but don't remember it so will have another look. Deep into the Poldark npovels by Winston Graham at the moment. Such wonderful writing. Thank you for your lovely comments on my blog xx

LittleBrownDog said...

So much to enjoy in this (once I'd got over the bittersweet pain of reading about your hot bath - don't talk to me about COLD....! Yes, I KNOW it was minus 9 last night, and we still didn't have heating.) Fabulous squirrel picture - such a clever fellow, you can't really begrudge him nuts after all that animal ingenuity. And that poem was just incredible. So poignant, so apt - I just loved that metaphor of a puppy dog in the kennel of her chest. Wonderful.

Ellie said...

Great poem! Suggestion ... add glass of wine and some chocolate to evening bath - the BEST way to end the day.

CAMILLA said...

Dear Cait,

So sorry I have come here late, just trying to catch up.

Interesting figure of that lady in your neighbour's garden Cait.

The Poem by young Poet is truly wonderful, I am sure she will go far in the literary world.

I love my baths too Cait, and often sprinkle in some Evening Primrose, very relaxing.

We have been having such severe cold weather lately Cait, but lovely to walk in as long as wrapped up warm against the chill.

Thank you for link for Caroline Bird Cait.