We had been planning a trip north. But on Friday morning, early, when Charlie should have been hitting the motorway early (I was going to meet him later in Glasgow, coming up by train) he suddenly realised, like an epiphany, that he just needed to be in Dorset, looking after his amazing greenhouse, filled with seedlings and cuttings, which couldn’t quite cope with a heatwave on their own. The weather forecast in Dorset was extraordinary. You cannot be in two places at once – a lesson that’s quite useful to remind ourselves of, from time to time, as we hurtle around trying to pack more than is humanly possible into our days.
And so, instead of myself heading up to the early, early train at Euston, I had a nice unexpected catch up in the office and caught the train down to Dorset in time for lunch and a sweltering afternoon in the garden.
I had a couple of phone calls and as the sun was lowering we went for a walk up top. The air was still and hazy and filled with the heat of the day, quickly turning cool as the sun went down.
The primroses in the churchyard are astonishing this year – we think, the result of the decision the church has taken not to mow large areas of the churchyard but just to let it grow to meadow, cutting once in the autumn.
The hills glowed with the pinky-orange of the setting sun.
We had supper at brilliant Dorshi, in Bridport, that night, to compensate for not being in the bothy, and the following morning we woke incredibly early to the most beautiful spring day. Another walk.
These days are so curiously reminiscent of the 2020 lockdown – those long March evenings, when we basked, and when nature and spring provided the most extraordinary consolation to the fears and unknown of those strange, dark, beautiful days.
Here again was the same light, the same misty air.
And here again the world is beset by a new set of fears and tragedies, this time entirely of human making, and all the more terrible for that.
But faced with a beautiful spring, it’s hard, honestly, not to stay optimistic for the future – because the cycle of life continues. It had been a sad week – last weekend, as I wrote, I’d been at the memorial for my friend Roma; this week, Charlie and I were at my cousin Edward’s funeral, who died far too young, aged 50, after a whole brave lifetime of quietly grappling with tremendous health issues. It was a beautiful, sad service, but we left filled with admiration for this gentle, determined man who did so much to improve the world around him – despite the fact that he’d had his first heart bypass aged just six months, at the Great Ormond Street hospital, in 1972.
Charlie’s garden is astonishing. Months of effort over the winter are coming to fruition now. Spring is bursting everywhere in this amazing heatwave.
In the afternoon, I got the watercolours out that Charlie had bought me for Christmas and did a small drawing of this familiar front of the parsonage. I’ll do a little blog about paintings one day perhaps.
The evening set fair, perfectly still. We had friends over for a long-overdue catch up, which was so good.
This morning, another beautiful clear day – and the clocks have changed, so we suddenly slip into light evenings again.
The news is so sad at the moment, and we all feel so powerless, except to pray for peace. High up on the hills, the terrible destruction of the Ukraine seems far away, but I think the lesson of this time of year, as the season slips towards Easter and a profound sense of renewal, is to remember always that love is stronger than hate, and always wins in the end, however long it takes.