30 October 2012

Flax flowers and other precious things

Today as I arrived home from school drop-off, my flax flowers beckoned me.

I planted the flaxes three years ago, frugally dividing three or so plants into about twelve. This year for the first time they are rewarding me with their beautiful flowers, which are crafted for the beak of my favourite bird, the tui.

I'd been walking past some home units, where elderly people live. A familiar tune floated out, and the sound was so rare it jolted me back to my childhood: it was whistled tunefully, melodically. Whistled the way that these days only people who have lived most of their long lives can whistle - elderly men, usually. A dying art, perhaps to be rediscovered one day. Do you remember when men used to whistle tunes? It made the air happy.

Then, almost home, I walked past a house that until last year was the home of some dear friends, who have now moved overseas. We miss those good people. I banished the sadness by remembering the Dr Seuss quote:

Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.

Then I rang a dear friend, whose fine body is being nibbled away by cancer. She hears only in one ear now, and can't smell, or taste savoury food, and that's on top of all the other bits of her that no longer work or have been removed, including those that would no doubt have grown babies if things had been different. I'd dreamt about her last night, and there was a tsunami, and death, a terrible dream that I know it will come true and I will be overwhelmed with the pain of it. But I loved talking to her - we talked about our respective flowering flaxes, and how we worry that our beloved cats will catch and kill a tui feeding from the flowers, and how we have both sown sweet pea seeds. The prospect of their divine scent thrills her, too, although she'll be denied that pleasure.

Then I looked around at the mess Anna had left on the floor, and remembered how she had run inside this morning to tell me of her discoveries - a blackbird corpse left by our cat, and two of our hens squashed into the nestbox together, both of them desperate to lay eggs that I will turn into nourishing food for my family.

How lucky I am to have my children and to be able to smell and hear and dream of the future! How important it is to grasp life's beautiful offerings every day!

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