My Diary, Trip

Green.

When I was younger, (quite a lot younger actually), I wrote a poem (well, a few words really, nothing as high falutin’ as a poem) and driving to work today I was reminded of that because the way to work can go through a rather lovely wooded area near a river which hosts a cycle track. I love green, I guess it’s the colour of my soul! but it’s not only the colour of MY soul apparently, it is a shade that denotes renewal and resurrection to Christians and it the colour of Islamic paradise.

We all associate green with Spring of course, and are happy seeing the first mist or fog of colour before there’s even a bud to be seen. Might that be some sort of collective hallucination do you think? Because if you look closer there really are no buds. It’s the colour of safety, GO GO GO. The one we expect anxiously when we’re in a hurry, not the red one please! and of course it’s the colour of the Irish. Why is Ireland called the Emerald Isle? Probably truer as tourist-hype than the monicker given to Sardinia’s Costa Smeralda! Unless of course that refers to the sea and in that case I haven’t got a leg to stand on! How many shades of green do the Irish say their lovely island has?

And what about money? The Americans call or called their bills greenbacks and it’s the colour associated with envy in English “I am green with envy at the number of greenbacks that green guy in the office has”. (We also say that people who are inexperienced are green!)

It’s supposed to have healing powers and is the most restful and relaxing of all colours. Curiously our exam papers were always printed on wishy-washy pale green paper. When I asked about it I was told it helps calm student nerves.”They paint prisons this colour too Anne” the teacher said. Yes, well….(But honestly, I think most students need a wake-up colour) However, back to our psychological insights: it can enhance vision, stability and endurance .It takes up more space in the colour spectrum visible to the human eye. And so, finally, here’s my “poem”:

I never do seem to be able

To get enough of green.

The Virginia creeper

Jungles its way over the terracotta tiles

Quilting them.

No leaf mosaic here

In these depths,

The fugues of paler, tinier greens

Unpaintable.

And my gaze keeps hovering back

Until my retina is forested in green,

Never,never enough……

Not like the kaleidescope of Autumn reds, rarer

Punctuated with grape-blue tiny berries

You can admire them for some minutes,

Even every day and feel content.

But the greens,the greens

Never satiate.

My Diary, Trip

I’m just a gal who can’t say GO…

Actually that’s not the title of the song which is” I’m just a gal who can’t say no and I’m in a terrible fix”.I wish I were like that girl because procrastination is my enemy, Thief of my mini holiday!A gal who can’t say go, me down to the ground! So, eventually, tardily, tootling along in my car admiring the distant hills but knowing all the time that flat land is in my soul. Here the paddyfields and Poplar woods of the Lombard plain. Their flatness satisfies me, flat land, the horizontal lines give a feeling of calm., I’m not interested in the vertical thrusting lines leading up to….where? The really bright acid green of the rice fields, the poplars, green leaves their silver undersides shimmering in the slightest breeze all against that Leonardesque background of blues fading more and more as they are further away from me. I guess the mountains are wonderful to the more energetic souls among you or even the very romantic ones, but give me flat land.

I had decided to go and have a look at the lavender fields of the Oltrep√≤, but after quite a long ride, the landscape was unrelentingly green. Nice of course, but shouldn’t it be violet?So I stopped and asked a man where it was, and sometimes I’m pleased I have a foreign accent, foreigners are more easily forgiven for their lack of knowledge. ” Signora it was all harvested three weeks ago”! I really should do my research before starting out. So what to do? visit a little borgo, one ot the most beautiful ones in Italy apparently, and it was. Those quiet deserted streets , the climb up to the castle area and the church where I noticed that it’s not enough to be good to get into heaven, you have to climb a lot of steps. A nice little place, beautifully kept, but for me it was more to do with the intangibles: the perfect silence interrupted only by the birdsong, a cool fresh breeze which made walking a pleasure, even at 13.30, butterflies fluttering all around, occasional elderly ladies out walking with their granddaughters, the lady who stopped cleaning her windows to draw the curtains so I could get a decent shot of the gothic arched window….

Gardening

Gardening:the Buddleia

(Delightfully named after the Reverend Adam Buddle although not discovered by him) I’ve just finished one of my favourite garden jobs and I’m sweaty ,dirty ,scratched and happy to prove it. I always cut the spent tips of my butterfly bush because I don’t like the look of them when they’re brown and dead and also because I read an article about forcing a second flowering, both to my advantage and to that of the butterflies. This secondary flowering will be less showy than the first one but all the same….. As you might know the common and garden Buddleia is also known as the butterfly bush. It’s a lovely job though, because you’re buried in the green border “inside” the perfume. There were a few random brambles this time, various biting critters and some menacing bees hovering, waiting to take over!

Seasons

Weather

We British are obsessed with the weather. Of course. It’s exciting, variable from minute-to- minute because it’s an ever-changing kaleidoscope. I remember calling my cousin and asking if predictions were good for my summer holiday in England. “Well”, he said ” we had summer last week on Wednesday afternoon”. Here in Italy we don’t actually have weather; just two “seasons”, hot, cold. You can’t squeeze much cover from that can you? but along with no seasons there are no skies. And we all know how delightful cloud -watching is! Ask any baby! They’ll watch the sky and the changing cloud formations for hours! In fact it’s so absorbing that Gavin Pretor-Pinney founded The Cloud Appreciation Society with over 50,000 paid-up members in 2005.

I remember my first Smart car had a glass roof and I had many a near escape because I was cloud watching. Far more interesting than a trafficked road actually! And who has not played the game with kids about cloud shapes? Hands up! I once toyed with the idea of joining the Cloud Appreciation Society but I was a bit put off by the fact that I could see ’em without actually paying! And what do you say of that stupid business jargon term “Blue sky thinking”?

Tell it to the people who live in desert regions. Most importantly (perhaps) is the wealth of skyscapes and cloudscapes that this love has given rise to. Some of our greatest painters have devoted their canvasses to the sky. And in England I lived in the Fens, a particularly flat area with BIG skies.

J.M.W.Turner The Slave shipJ

Gardening

Wakey wakey! Absolutely not “woke”

When you think about it isn’t it wonderful. The way you gradually come out from that longing for hot heavy food and drink and emerge like a newborn into a world of salad and fresh- picked fruit? Suddenly the snug scarf round your neck and up to your nose can be shed and you come out of your chrysalis and show the world some skin. Oh for heaven’s sake shut up about the rolls of fat round your waist and the idea that you’re less than beautiful! Personally I could weep when I see the faces, yes some old, not all beautiful without make- up, unshaven, yes I could weep at the beauty of you all! What’s that? Well for starters you’re still alive dammit! You’re making it past this sludge and hate and terror- time of the virus. And another thing: I don’t want a tropical island or a never-ending sun! What a bore! I want Autumn with those glorious colours, I want the sound of the leaves scraping across the shining wet asphalt, I want the sound of the rain and maybe some thunder.

Eternal summer I’m letting the stupid celebs keep it. We’re all born for change believe me. Look at your kids your grandkids; what could be more exciting than charting the course of these drooling shitting bundles of joy into toddlers and eventually creatures like you with opinions to fight over and love. No no I’ve gotta have bulbs to coddle and to watch over, buds to wait for with bated breath, change in all its forms. I’ve gotta see how my garden is maturing, how my family is growing up, how my students are improving and the little thought “that was me, just a little”.So, off to your paradise islands if you must but beware! Autumn will come (and go) Winter will arrive and I’ll be pulling up my cuddly fake fur collar and eating truffles in Alba. My goodness, how many Pina Coladas have you had to drink today to drown your homesickness? Poor you!