Old age is a pain. It keeps you awake at night and it makes you sleep during the day. At this time of year the Spring countryside takes me to a place where old age recedes – where young is what we newly are, as we relive our memories; and interpret them afresh.
Our daphne bush, in full flower, leads me to these thoughts. It was planted in our garden many years ago by Mrs Llew. You have to reach out for its scent: its young, shy fragrance. You never quite own it. And yet it calls and haunts.
Like the elusive scent of the daphne our memories echo, recall, tantalise and suggest moments and poignancies which we did not fully perceive, if at all, while we lived in them and hurried on: the red Routemaster bus to Hampstead, the music, our raspberry patch, Waterloo bridge at night, the lights on the Thames, a statue by Elizabeth Frink, the thundering presses of Fleet Street. We are newly aware of the poetry in these perceptions and experiences.
Old age is a pain. Yet within this restricted world, as I wandered tonight on the by-pass, its tiny plants and weeds spoke to me. My fingers tingle from a nettle’s sting. It was hiding in a clump of white dead nettles, newly in flower. I brought a few leaves and flowers home, so that I would remember them: cow parsley, burdock, yarrow, rich lush grass, a buttercup, cleavers – and the hawthorn trees were newly green, their flowers just in bud. All hinting, pointing, recalling.
We travel. May the sweetness by the roadside give us pause in our lives. And while we pause, may we renew the sweetness of our links with each other.