These Autumnal days are utterly glorious. Despite the chilly and foggy start, there is such warmth in the sunshine.
I walk on the grass, my feet damp from dew, with grass clippings that cling to my toes and heels, and I wheel yet another barrow of wood from the bottom of the garden to the porch.
The porch is like another room, and from here I’m just metres from an edible feast: elderberries, strawberries, gooseberries, raspberries and blueberries.
The swallows have left their carefully created nests behind in the wooden beams; their families now flying far away.
The last blossoms on the buddleia entice a few butterflies.
This outdoor room is a sun trap, and I take a moment from moving barrows of wood to sit and sip the organic coffee my lover has just made. My cup came all the way from a small and vibrant town in Alaska. My friend Starr gave it to me ~ and I ‘must’ have it whenever I enjoy a hot drink.
Here on the porch I write a letter to my mum, and later on pot up plants for my daughter to take to university. She leaves in three days. Plants are important, I tell her, for beauty, to detox the air, and because it’s important to have something to nurture and care for.
Her plants have names: Chilli, Rose, Lily, Anastasia, Alistair…
She tells me she doesn’t have room for all these plants. “On your window sill,” I say. My heart says: three days to go.
I hear a tractor in the distance. The farmer is tending his sheep. But mostly, I hear birdsong.
My feet are dirty, my hair is messy, but I’m content.
My fingernails, which I started growing two months ago when the dentist said my chewing habit was ruining my teeth, become chipped from moving wood. I could have used gardening gloves, but I like to feel the wood. Loose bark falls to the side and I save it to put around my blueberry bushes. Nothing goes to waste. I find the colour of blueberry-bush leaves so stunning at this time of year.
I love the colour of the wood, a mix of amber and honey. The bark reminds me of the lovely wooden blocks my girls had growing up. They smelt fantastic, and had bark on them. I choke back a tear. Three days to go.
University rules mean that students aren’t allowed candles or incense in their halls. They have been such a sensory part of our family’s life. I suggest to my daughter that I get her one of those electric-run aromatherapy oil burners. We both cringe at the thought. No.
I give her essential oils with the instruction of putting them onto fabric by a sunny windowsill or on the radiator.
Birds are flying south beneath the feathery clouds and fragile-blue sky. My baby chick is about to fly south. Three days to go.
I wish I didn’t find goodbyes and letting go so damn hard. I grew up with a father who worked overseas for months at a time. Airports and goodbyes were a strong feature of my childhood. His death (that final goodbye), two years ago in a car accident, still lurks near the surface…no doubt amplifying any subsequent goodbyes. Three days to go!
The holly berries grow redder by the day. A sign of life. Life! Decay and death is all around in this vibrant Autumn season, and yet there is still life.
From the porch I see the washing on the line. In three days, I’ll no longer be washing her clothes. We’ve had our last breakfast together on the porch, and tomorrow will be our last shared gym session. There have been many ‘lasts’ in preparation for all the firsts which await her. I feel such a huge door opening up before her ~ a whole world of possibilities. It’s so exciting!
The boy cat rubs against my feet. I’m grateful for his company, but it’s only seconds until he tries to disembowel me. My thoughts turn to the girl cat. She’s now in her twelfth year of life, and showing signs of arthritic hips. I’ve been so cross at her lately for using my home as her personal litter tray. Anger turns to compassion. Her days are numbered.
Eliza’s been studying quality of life v. sanctity of life in her Philosophy and Ethics classes. Ironic that it’s playing out right in our home. We share tears over breakfast at the choices ahead. There are some decisions in life that you don’t want to make. She asks if we can get another kitten to keep the boy cat company. My heart aches. And go through this all over again?
That’s the thing about love, isn’t it? Nothing lasts forever on the physical plane. Things come and go. People come and go. Pets come and go.
Eleven years of sharing life with the girl cat ~ and the end shows its face. She’s part of the family. And this family is changing shaped and dynamics. Three days to go!
I sit back, sip my coffee and breathe. It hits me. Another last: we have dessert on Saturday night, and there are no more Saturdays left before my daughter leaves for uni.
My mind races. Perhaps I can bake an apple and elderberry crumble?
Autumn follows me inside. I stack wood by the downstairs stove.
The kitchen sings to me of Autumn. This is, indeed, the season of letting go. Loss, life and moving on.