It was 1976, late summer. There had been a drought for months and months. I took my children to the park and while we were there the rain came. People leapt about in it. So did we all. My children and I. We opened our palms and our mouths to the falling sweetness. Refreshment at last.
It is almost New Year and it will be 2011 in a few hours. We have had weeks of frost and ice and snow. Today the thaw has come and the snow has gone. While our hills and fields were clad in white there was utter beauty in the scene.
With the thaw there has come a sweet scent from the recovering vegetation. Everything is drenched but fresh; and as all this entered my senses I remember the lanes up to the headland – the place where past and present come together. This is the headland of which I wrote some months ago.
Gorse and heather grow there. It is both a geographical place and a metaphor. It exists but I see it as a place of reconciliation, where, from its high points, we look down on the harbour town and the sea – also a fact and a metaphor.
I walk up the hill, along a deep lane with high, soaked hedges. In great tangled thickets the winter heliotrope blooms, with its almond scent. Through a gate I see, again, the sea.
This is a place but it is metaphor, for my hope for reconciliation while there is time before we all take sail in the ship which waits in the harbour with its guardian, welcoming angel.
I took some roots of that winter heliotrope, years ago – in that place which my children loved. It flourished in North London. My mother’s neighbour in Devon called its close relative, Coltsfoot, a pernicious weed.
It did come close to undermining our house in North London. But those deep green lanes up to the headland….may their sweetness be remembered