Alexander Averin

Tuesday, 15 September 2009


Dear Diary,

Pleasure is the flower that passes; remembrance, the lasting perfume.

~Jean de Boufflers

Some plants bring memories to me that take me back to old homes, previous lives, pastimes and childhood days. One that always does this for me is the much-loved perennial the Michaelmas Daisy. It speaks to me of autumn, the season I love so with all its scents, its colours and its promises. I love this daisy’s hue, it is synonymous with autumn and I always want to wear its colour for it is kind and forgiving, slightly mysterious and flatters an ageing complexion.

Pink phlox always remind me of our old home, a little cottage in Sussex where they grew under the front window. They were new to me then, I loved them so and I wish now I had brought some with me to Wales all those years ago. Thoughts of West Sussex take me back to the country lane I used to walk each day with my two children and my two dogs. I walked this lane every day from when they were babies (or puppies in the case of the dogs) and always remember the white flowers of ‘milkmaid and the primroses that lined the lane and in the wood at the end there were my beloved bluebells and wild blue scabious.

Primroses were new to me when, as a young woman, I first moved out from London, I had never seen them growing in the wild and they grew profusely around the Surrey village that my adoptive parents moved to. I had hated leaving London and all my friends but soon fell in love with the countryside and it is a passion that has not faded (and plenty do!). Lasting passions, aren’t they wonderful, what are yours I wonder?

As a child in South London I seem to remember that there were antirrhinums in our garden and I have a vague recollection of there being pansies and marigolds (their scent is gorgeous isn’t it?). I still love pansies and my middle granddaughter does too. They are hardy little things in spite of their prettiness and their appearance of delicacy; they spread themselves upwards and outwards and last for ages without much watering or care. The winter ones cheer me all through the cold days, I usually pick the purpley, dark bluey ones.

I asked M if there are any such memories from his past and he mentions the hollyhocks that grew wild and untended in his dear mother’s garden. These are one of my favourite flowers but I find it difficult to keep them going here in the Welsh hills. M’s memories of autumn are of chestnutting; picking them, boiling them and then eating them with sore fingers. All this is alien to me being a child of the Smoke. He remembers picking wild raspberries and says that the Bramley apples in his mother’s garden were ‘as big as someone’s head‘. He also mentioned snapdragons, I called them antirrhinums earlier but wish I had used the name snapdragons as for one it is easier to spell and two it is also a more magical name. I wrote a silly little rambling poem about flowers once where I mention one:

Musings from the Flower Garden

reviving old certainties;
unfolding spring.
Woodland’s white drops,
proclaiming joy,
sweetly nestling like jewels
in ice-petalled drifts,
they resurrect our passions.
coyly she peeps.
reflecting gossamer blue,
Parades among her fields of gold.
I can almost taste her almondness
and her vanilla
in its mottled and powdery fluffiness.
Around me bees are thronging;
buzzing and barging
for the sweet delight
that is the orange pollen.
Before they are fed and dusted,
sated and in retreat
will the Dragon Snap?

Cait O’Connor


A little mouse lives close by my bird feeding station, its hole is clearly visible and he obviously keeps himself and his family well fed on what the birds drop from their beaks. Last night my collie Kitty wouldn’t come in from her last-thing-at-night outing - I thought she was lost - but I found her laying by the mousehole, glued to it in fact and she was most reluctant to leave it. I’ve never had a mousing dog before so I found it highly amusing.


Another Good Book. It’s not a new title but a borrower recommended The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd and I am really enjoying it. She said she was phoning all her friends and telling them that they must read it, I think she was right. It is also a film, I will wait until l I have read the book and then order the DVD through the library.

I also want to get hold of Alan Bennett’s new one - A Life like Other People’s. I so love this man’s writing.

Free Days - I am on leave from work this week - getting in practice for retirement perhaps? Sometimes I think it would be nice to be retired but I really love my job and for financial reasons will have to work until I drop anyway so it’s just as well.

Dry days - they are such a novelty and even if the sun doesn’t shine (like yesterday) they are a joy.

There is to be a fresh review of the sex offender’s law - probably after the outcry at the ridiculous measures suggested by the authorities. I blogged about this very recently.

Autumn, autumn, autumn, can’t you tell I just love it?

New beginnings - I can feel them stirring.

Bye for now,
Enjoy the day,


pinkfairygran said...

Lovely post, really enjoyed reading this one. I never knew what a private garden was until I was 15 as up until then we had always lived in half-houses and flats and any outdoor space such as gardens, were public ones. But from the one we eventually got, I remember ice daisies (I cannot even attempt to spell the proper name which begins mess...) and the way their pale but yet vivid coloured little faces opened up the minute the sun shone on them, and then closed when it left. They were planted by my late mother, so happy to have some outdoor space of her own at last. My husband, lucky old thing, has always had a huge garden from childhood and remembers his mother's flower garden, his father's incredible vegetable patch and greengages.
Lasting passions? For my husband, my books, my writing, my crafts, food and gardening. And several others I won't mention!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Love love this post. From the flowers to the poem, to Alan Bennett, to The Secret Life of Bees...which I enjoyed very much... all wonderful.

You know those big, fat, unrealistic Chrysanthemums? They used to be made into corsages for the girls at football games here. They always remind me of autumn. And gardenias, are summer!

Apple wishes your collie much luck with the mouse. She would love nothing more!

ds said...

I love snapdragons, too...

Pondside said...

Really good post, again, Cait.
I have a mouser too - my Cairn Terrier Rosie is a great mouser. I'm glad you're enjoying The Secret Life of Bees - I went to a reading by the author once when she shared the stage with my sister for a reading for charity - gorgeous book.

Woozle1967 said...

Yes!! Snap dragons! We always had them in the garden... and hollyhocks, iceberg roses, peonies, alchemilla mollis (ladies mantle?) and tonnes of lavender. Thanks for stirring the senses with this one, Cait!xx

CAMILLA said...

Such a wonderful post Cait, and a pure joy to read.

I adore flowers, always have them filled in jugs around the rooms here in the Cottage. Hollyhoks are one of my favourites too, they always remind me of a very old fashioned cottage plant, love them planted in masse.

I do hope you have wrote a book of Poems Cait, you are a gifted writer and the Poem you have shared with us here is so lovely.

Alan Bennet is a wonderful writer, love all that he does, and I adored his Talking Head plays, I have finished his last book so will look forward to his new one you mention Cait, thank you.

Oh yes to Autumn, one of my favourite seasons of the year.


GreenishLady said...

What a lovely post, Cait. I too am enjoying these bright dry days. (rain early this morning, but it's cleared again, and I'm feeling very virtuous for having tidied out my patio and back-garden of years' of detritus).

Secret Life of Bees is a favourite of mine, too. Glad you've found it.

And all your memories of flowers... certain flowers call to mind people in my past - Auntie Imelda had aquilegias and sweet peas, Auntie Esther huge showy begonias, and a wisteria. My mother loved finding new-to-us plants. Bleeding heart, calvary plant, and she grew the first sunflowers I ever saw. Magic! Thanks for the prompt. And the poem.

Pam said...

Lovely post Cait, but I'm on the side of the mousie, being partial to these little creatures- I do hope he makes it home safely! The Lantana plant reminds me of my childhood- we had it as a hedge- but now this plant is considered a rampant pest in Australia. Seems I'm partial to pesty things doesn't it!

laurie said...

my father had a rock garden under a birch tree back when i was a child. rimmed in snow-on-the-mountain, with a yellow primrose in memory of my brother, who had died, and with pansies, snapdragons, moss roses, and other sweet, small flowers.

i had not thought of that garden in years. thank you for this post.

Cottage Garden said...

A lovely post Cait. From the beginning I was hooked as a Michaelmas Daisy is blooming all around the spot where my dear cat Daisy is buried. We lost her in February this year aged 19 and it still hurts. I love that flower and named Daisy after it!
Your memories of childhood also resonate with me. I too was brought up in the city, in South London and for many years we lived in a flat with no garden. I longed for the countryside from an early age and was able to fulfil that wish when we moved here to Suffolk ten years ago.

I hope you had a good week off enjoying these lovely autumn days.

Jeanne x