L3 (Day 30): Betula Pendula

Along with buddleja, the silver birch, (betula pendula) is often the first tree to set down roots and become established in the most unlikely situations. It grows fast and its white bark seems to split under the stress of holding the slender trunk together as it shoots up. It quickly becomes a tree of ornamental interest, with its beautifully shaped, serrated leaves, that turn from soft green to shimmering autumn gold before being shed.

Its adaptability and aesthetic appeal makes it an attractive specimen to plant when landscaping newly developed building plots in temperate climates.

Even a tree so slight in appearance brings a sense of permanence to a location. It breaks up the urban landscape, provides colour and natural shade in summer. Its leaves play with the light, like the sea, they dance to the vicissitudes of the weather and in winter their absence allows what light and warmth there is to pass through.

In contrast I sense that I have lived my recent years as if I am a tumbleweed.

Wikipedia states: A tumbleweed is a structural part of the above-ground anatomy of a number of species of plants, a diaspore that, once it is mature and dry, detaches from its root or stem, and rolls due to the force of the wind.

This windblown existence is how the plant distributes its seed and reproduces. I do not see any correlation between my life and this aspect of the tumbleweed life cycle, but the detachment at the point of ‘maturity’, the hollowed out centre and endless shifting on the breath of a breeze is me and this cannot continue.

For a wanderer like me, the idea of being able to adjust and settle and make a home is to be respected, but is it possible? Can a tumbleweed become a silver birch?

~

CLP 04/02/2021

L3: Day 29 On The Bridge

I was walking back from the shop, carrying a paper bag of groceries in my arms when I reached the bridge. I have been here before, but not like this. There has usually been some kind of run up, run out, or just gradually being run down. Not this time. I just thought, from nowhere really, “I could just step over the barrier.”

I surprised myself at the sudden appearance of the idea. I recognised this as ideation and important to acknowledge. I need to speak to someone. Then it came on me again, echoed in my limbs, was more familiar, less frightening. I thought of my sons and grandchildren, my family.

I walked back to my apartment. Unpacked my groceries. Went to an online business meeting. Afterwards I made a phone call and asked if the kettle was on. It was, of course. The kettle is always on somewhere.

~

CLP 03/02/2021

On Playing xvii

You playing or not

quite certain what the game is?

Me neither. Your turn!

~

n.b. The uncertainty seems to be increasing as physical distancing continues. Does anyone know what is happening to us? I write from a place of personal freedom, personal distance, personal isolation. Good days, bad days, happy days and sad.

When I read a book that mentions about going for a drink in a crowded bar, or for a romantic meal in a Paris restaurant; or when I watch a movie where people just move about acting out lives that mean having to be close to others and dealing with the intimacies of existence, I think, ‘Is this how it was, or will be? It doesn’t look or feel right. This is not how it is.

Interacting online with everyone is a miracle of technology, but I am tired of it. Everyone is accessible, everyone is removed. What is the game we are playing?

~

CLP 28/01/2021

On Playing ix

She asked him who he played as

Knowing every boy pretends

To be someone else when playing

They dream they can be better

He wanted to be Best

~

n.b. As a boy playing football I clearly had a failure of ambition. I pretended to be a Welsh international centre forward, not George Best. Who would dare to dream that big?

“The Fifth Beatle” certainly lived up to his name on the pitch, as in best in the world, for a time at least. Her dad went on to play football professionally and he scored a ghost goal that was allowed. He was clearly very good at applying his mind over matter from an early age.

~

CLP 22/01/2021

Piped Dreams

The door clicks a jar

compresses the draught

to a whistle that wakes me

from your arms, her arms, my brother’s

hand I held through a summer

night in the respiratory ward

down the corridor from coronary care

where he would be the next summer

and no one could visit

while he dreamt of life and dying

surviving dreams of dreaming

and not divining what was remembered

or dreamt even when sent home

to live as best he might when so tired

of medication and interventions

when all he wanted was to live

and love and still be the man

she married.

~

CLP 20/01/2021