Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Earth and Sky




The Moon appeared on the right-hand side of the bus, the side I was sitting on, the window next to me, there it was, all perfectly round and silvery white, a bright shiny button surrounded by all of the night sky, an immensity, an ongoing, almost endless blackness – or near blackness – that could only be imagined in the bus, where night was neatly framed by the window, giving an illusion of safety and security, of warmth and protection, the way human life does in this part of the world anyway, neatly severing you from ‘the outside’, the natural world, with its chilly inconstancies its limitless power to chasten, to batter and sometimes – to defeat. We are lulled into a complacent – and irrational – sense of containment and shelter, pressing our faces against the glass houses of protective habit and assurance; except for those who have stepped out – both metaphorically and literally – and are unprotected. And this, we have allowed to happen, as we trail from one brightly-lit shop to the next, performing our Christmas rituals because we’ve opted in to custom, window-pane screens, brick walls and warmth at the touch of a button.


The streets are empty, says one shopkeeper, bus-stops are empty, no-one is out buying, last month was deserted at the end of the student semester.
Austerity, we agree, has put paid to people’s spending. And fearful uncertainty for the future.
I remember, I say, that other time of austerity, growing up in the 50s, when there was so little, none of the imports we’re accustomed to now – peppers and avocados, Italian coffee, French cheeses –
We’re spoiled, she agrees. And tells me how, when she was small, she was sent to someone who had an allotment, to buy potatoes from him. And the pail was so heavy, the potatoes were covered in earth and mud, I could only carry it a few feet then had to rest and put it down; and then when I got home, they had to be washed and peeled – and there were cabbages too and turnips, but that was about all. Yes, we’ve become used to so many things since then – we’ve been spoiled.

 
And the question hanging in the air that we turn over endlessly in our minds and our fingers – what will happen in the future, and I think, once I’ve bought two boxes of incense and said goodbye, that maybe this is part of what has to happen, an erasure of taking for granted – the selection of food and the heating of houses and the clothes that we buy and that hang in our wardrobes while, all those decades ago, winter coats had to last, winter boots too and winter meant deep snow and ice formed on the inside of windows.

It’s true that the streets are not crowded, but there are plenty of illuminations – in parks, in shop windows and house windows and there’s little sign that the world of commerce will close up shop, that the carousel will slow down and its gears will grow rusty and disappear in the long grass, like the branches I collected in winter, and got covered over in summer growth. I found them just the other day, when I peeled off the damp and withered foliage, its lank tendrils rotting on the branches of pine. I pulled out the branches – one day, I’ll saw them into logs for the fire.

But it could be that the signs are there, and the shopkeepers notice, whereas I live in the country, dig potatoes out of the ground, cut up logs for the fire, pile on layers of clothes to keep warm, dig a path to the gate when it snows. Which it hasn’t, this winter, not yet.

Misty morning Moon

On the walk home from the bus stop there’s nothing between me and the night sky and I stop to watch the round Moon, screened by a filter of cloud, then it’s as if it melts it with its brilliance and all round the Moon there’s a sheen of pink, a gauzy light and there’s one star above it, far up in the sky and I remember this morning, watching a plane flying through misty cloud, in a straight line, and thinking how planes are things of such grace, so seeming-assured yet so vulnerable, and in my mind, I hold it up in the sky, in its trajectory feathered by cloud, to its safe landing, its airport, its gentle descent to the earth.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Beautiful photos of the moon and landscape.

And your lovely writing Morelle is always a joy.


Love,

Maureen x

dritanje said...

thank you Maureen. I was surprised to see the full Moon still in the sky the next morning, that does't often happen x

three sea horses said...

What a lovely painting Morelle! I hope you will do more xxx

dritanje said...

thanks 3 sea horses! this was done a long time ago, when I seemed to have more time, strangely, to play around with a paint brush xx