There’s so much to do right now : harvesting and processing garden produce, building maintenance that calls for full days of dry weather, cutting grass, keeping the borders tidy(-ish), foraging for natural dyeing materials. And then there’s serving customers and hopelessly straining to replenish our fast-depleting stock of hand-spun or plant-dyed yarns, knitted garments, crochet articles …
But it’s not any of those things that cause us to linger in the evening sunshine, to take every task out in the garden that might be more conveniently done indoors, nor why the cats come in for the night (if it’s not raining) at the very last moment possible, after I’ve taken Tilly for a walk, and just as they know I’ll lock the door and turn out the lights.
With the currants and gooseberries down to the last pickings, our organized efforts have turned to harvesting the peas and, since a day or so ago, the broad beans too. That’s is how we know that summer’s early has given way to late (if there was a mid, we must have missed it!), and the year itself from waxing to waning. From here on, every moment counts – it feels we’re on borrowed time.
The cats know it. The sheep do, too, and of course the birds of the sky, the countless varieties of wild flowers, each and every blade of grass, and even the mites and earthworms in the soil. All of nature knows it!
Already, there’s that unmistakable scent of autumn in the air.
First a fortnight of mostly fine weather, blighted by a string of calamitous problems with the new fencing, and then a back injury that left me scarcely able to stand straight, walk properly, or sleep at night. Other tasks, too, have had to be left to the goodwill of the elves. As the pressure guage has swung into the red, the body has responded with painful joints and sore glands, muscle pain, chronic lethargy and fatigue, blurred vision, inability to concentrate, dulled thinking, slow speech, vertigo, headaches, depression … the whole gamut of symptoms that, back in 2015, forced me to ‘retire’ from civil engineering – essentially to give up my profession due to ill health. The symptoms have ebbed and flowed with the seasons and the circumstances, but this recent episode has been the worst I recall since the first onset, two years ago.
Test have furnished neither cause nor diagnosis – just a shelf-full of repeat prescriptions. A working explanation (at least on my part – based on my own research), was that it’s a neurological condition that can be traced back about 12 years to when I was infected with Lyme Disease: back then it was quite new to the UK, and my infection wasn’t diagonosed (let alone treated) until the ‘infection aura’ had spread all the way from ankle to groin. Now, reluctantly, I have to admit that it seems more consistent with ME / CFS – though a formal diagnosis wouldn’t make any difference. Perhaps its best, as the doctor says, just to treat the symptoms.
This weekend the UK is basking in a heat wave, at the fringe of a high pressure system that’s centred over the Iberian peninsula. Our daughter Catherine and her Basque partner Ion, who live in a mediavel village perched high up in the hills of Navarra, are struggling to cope with temperatures around 40degC. In the UK, it’s been in the upper 20s – low 30s, even reaching 34degC. Except, that is, in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland: here the temperature is about 14degC. Well, that’s not so bad, you’re thinking (I know you are!), for the Outer Hebrides. Well, we have known it much warmer than that … but I take your point. Or I would, were it sunny too, here. But it ain’t! Persistent winds, swirling low cloud or sea fog – resulting in humidity at 99%, and very poor light. The grass is growing like Topsy, and there’s nothing we can do but stop indoors with the lights on, the wood-burning stove lit to try and invoke the winter we’re-just-so-grateful-to-be-tucked-up-indoors-where-its-warm-and-dry spirit – and pick up the books and weaving (for me, just to be on the safe side, it’s books about weaving) that we put aside months ago when Spring finally sprung.
That, then, was the context for this morning’s discovery of Rhubarb dead in his sleep.
So yes, I’m feeling down. But not out.