Follow by Email

Saturday, 30 November 2013

29 November Anniversary, and Much Mud.

Today is Steve's anniversary.  He died on the 29 November 2007 at 10am, and so I went to Pagham Harbour Nature Reserve to do something to mark the moment.  I mean this in a most healthy way, I was not meaning to go to the estuary and lie down in tears wearing my best wedding frock and let the tide wash over me.  I wanted to celebrate and remember, and feel good about our time together.

The landscape that most holds the memory of Steve for me.
I cycled to Pagham Harbour Nature Reserve a few days ago, only to find that it is the most beautiful place on earth.  I left the bike chained securely to a flimsy and unsafe old footpath sign, hoping that any bicycle thief would find it too difficult to cycle off with my bike dragging along behind it a weather beaten sign with a wooden finger pointing up into the sky saying This Way. Enjoy Yourselves.  This landscape above reminds me of Steve, it is the kind of place in which I imagine his spirit is happiest. Steve loved the sea, he loved boats and he loved silence.  Sometimes I thought he was only on loan to us, his place was far, far away from the bustle and noise of life.  One night, I caught him looking up into thousands of stars in the night sky, as he stood in his garden looking over the hills and fields, and I was struck with the knowledge that he was on loan here.  His place was amongst the stars. I had the same feeling when I saw him in places like this, with the ebb and flow of the tides, the birds flying overhead and only the silence and power of nature.  

Me and Steve, on loan to us for a while.
This morning, I put into my bag two bright tulips from a bunch that dear Alan had given me, some stones from the garden, some pieces of paper and a pen, and some matches. Leaving the bike chained again to the old battered wooden sign at the Harbour, I walked along the mud and sand banks, trying to keep to the path, through the puddles as the tide was out, until I found a piece of the estuary in which I could create a little ceremony for us.  I wanted to be ready at 10am, the time that he died. And so, at five minutes to ten, in a little spot amongst the sand and pools of water, I sat on a bit of grass and wrote on the paper, wishing him a happy anniversary, and thanked him for everything.  I wrote a good few notes and letters to him, with thoughts and news of my life, and hopes for the future.  I told that I loved him, and I asked him to keep looking after me.  As the wind was blowing fiercely off the sea, burning the letters wasn't possible, and so I left a circle of stones with the two red and white tulips in the centre as a memorial to us, and went off looking for somewhere to build a little cairn and burn the letters.

I found a space eventually in some overhanging branches at the side of the estuary.  It was lovely inside, like a mermaid's cave, with bits of seaweed hanging off the shrubbery around me.  In my little cave of branches, I sat on the sandy floor and built the cairn with the stones and rocks around me, and I burnt the letters, one by one, warming my cold hands by the tiny fire.  A robin red breast joined me from nowhere, and hopped from branch to branch only inches from my head, watching me and the fire with tiny beady eyes.  I spoke to it gently, telling it things about Steve, and explaining what I was doing.  It wasn't afraid of me, and stayed on a branch listening intently with its little head on one side.  We watched the fire die down, the robin and I, for a long time, in mutual companionship.  When eventually I decided to go, the robin had gone. I had not seen nor heard it fly away, it was just gone.

The tide was coming in as I walked back.  Without knowing the landmarks and not recognising where the path was, I found myself walking in the wrong bit of the estuary, into the sand and mud, and wham.  Over I go, my boots stuck in the sand, sinking fast and I sprawling in the mud making a right old mess of my coat, hat, gloves, tights, face, hair and nice white jumper.  Righting myself somehow and pulling out my boots in my stockinged feet, and realising that if I spent more than a half second at a time in the mud I would sink and join Steve amongst the stars, I waddled as best I could over clumps of seaweed that would be safer to stand on,  and arrived back eventually to the bank.  I looked like a creature from the black lagoon.  I had weeds in my hair, thick mud coating me, my clothes, my face, and up my nose.   I put my boots back on, displacing the mud inside with my feet, and squelched back to my bike.  I was wet, a few stone heavier with the mud, and very very cold.  This is all because of you, Steve, I thought.  I hope you're satisfied.  Last time I get sentimental on your anniversary, I felt like saying.  Next year, I shall have a cream tea in a comfy hotel and think of you there.  

Me coming out of the mud.  Not really, but similar.  
I rode home in style.  Today is the first day for my new lodger in the house, I wanted her to feel at home and safe on day one, and so I hoped she would be out when I arrived.  Of course she wasn't.  She was standing by the door.  When I said that I had fallen in the water and mud at Pagham Harbour, I could see that she thought that I was one of those odd posh arty types you read about.  "I do it all the time!" I could have said, picking seaweed from my teeth, "I like to jump into the quicksands at the estuary when I feel low, it always makes me feel better!  Gives one perspective!" and she would not have been surprised.

I am feeling better this week.  We have only one day left of November, and it is common knowledge that December will be my month.  It will all be lovely again.  November has been ghastly, and so obviously if November ends, it will end the ghastliness too.  Simples.  I am consolidating my 2013 by not making any intentional decisions until day one of 2014.  I am sitting back and waiting.  I am waiting to see what happens.  Instead of me going out to get things and do stuff, I am waiting for stuff and things to come to me.  Nice stuff and things, in December only nice things happen.  I am chilling, chillaxing, watching, thinking, pondering, and taking notes.  Life is too short, I read, to be always on the go.  Fine, I say, I shall be on the stop.  I am in transition.  I am in a limbo.  I am filling the empty vessel that is me, with time off and lots of nothing.  Actually, decisions will be made, they will happen when I am not looking and I will be pleasantly surprised that I have made them while thinking of something completely different.

Happy in my blanket in the kitchen gazing at the iPhone as Giant Boy plays me some of his French Rap music and I am reminded that I do not know what is going on and need more time.

To end now, on a happy note, I am going out with Alan tonight to the poshest of dinners at Amberley Castle.  We are dressing up, having bubble baths and putting perfume behind our ears (mostly me doing that) and ending the month of November in style.  From Shrek yesterday to Elizabeth Taylor today.  Roll on December.