Wednesday 21 March 2012

Sunny Days and washing days

It really is spring. I really did pick a big bunch of deep purple, velvety violets on my walk to town yesterday, a pair of thrushes really are busily nesting in the crook of the ash tree outside the toilet window, and today we managed our bedtime chapter of Little House on the Prairie without having to light the lamps!

Tansy has become my chief mangler...using our newly borrowed hand wringer, kindly lent by a friend. At home ill today, she insisted, quite firmly, on working her way through an entire load of laundry by herself, panting ferociously as she turned the handle of our lovely 1950's  mangle.

I have to admit, it is really satisfying to use and produces results easily as impressive as the normal spin cycle of a washing machine. Even Freddie commented, 'it really works' when he put some of his laundry through yesterday. It's Tansy and Leo's favourite new activity, and I haven't had much chance to use it myself to be honest, they usually bustle outside, with buckets to catch the water, a dry bucket for the wrung clothes and elbow me out of the way. It's the same with the washboard, effective and fun and I usually end up doing something else while they take over...

I've never had so much help with the laundry! I have to admit, I do sneak off to the laundrette once every couple of weeks if I have a bulk load of sheets and towels to wash, but with warm spring days and the mangle, even these little clandestine outings may become a thing of the past. My laundry pile has shrunk dramatically since I started hand washing again, we air, spot wash and just get a bit dirtier before resorting to a full wash. The energy going into the job is more tangible, our muscles do the work, not electricity from some remote power station.
Yes there are usually a couple of buckets soaking in the corner but that's ok.....I feel as if I am in control of the washpile which was definitely  not the case when we had a machine. There was some sort of malevolant laundry breeding troll who lurked in the dirty clothes basket at night, and I'm glad to see the back of him. No longer do I throw things in to 'make up a load'. Kids get firmly told if their clothes are too clean to wash, everyone's getting the message. I also thinned out all our clothes before we moved here and things are so much simpler and easier.

At least I didn't have any laundry on Mother's Day, this Sunday, just a lovely cup of tea in bed with my journal, and a beautiful sunny day at the beach with fun calm family.....

Love to all mothers, sending you love and appreciation, how was your day?

Monday 12 March 2012


You know what, I do talk alot about how much I love living without electricity, the candles the simplicity, the magic.... but I'm finding our limited acess to the laptop really, really hard.

We have an invertor in our car, which charges our phones from the car battery on the school run, but doesn't leave any time for charging anything else; we sneakily charge the laptop if we visit a friend...but ...that gives us an hour and a half use of an evening. An hour and a half.

 I love this blog, I love writing here, and knowing that you guys are actually reading it, and sometimes commenting (I especially like that.) But it's challenging.  I'm also trying to write some more articles and some other projects, (currently drafted in longhand by candle light, which is fine, honestly) But at some point I need to transfer them on to the screen, and research things, and check my emails, and hell, even reply to a few. Then of course Hugh needs to check a few things out, like the price of batteries and solar panels, specifically, and Freddie wouldn't mind downloading a bit of music too...... 

So I've started to visit internet cafes on one or two of my three child free mornings  a week, and I drink copious amounts of three mint tea and studiously ignore the cappucino. But sometimes I have no transport and can't get to the internet cafe, and am at home with free time and NO COMPUTER.

So I pace up and down and imagine all the writing I could be doing and waste lots of time huffing and grumbling whilst putting some buckets of laundry on to soak, before I remember to look out of the window. It's beautiful, sunny and warm, and I do have a pen and paper if I really need to write, but  there are steps to be built, paths to be dug, raised beds to be planned.
So I build steps (no pics yet as camera battery needs charging) chop wood, and walk in the wood and it feels good and spring like.

But I still want  to get on the computer!

Well, this evening Hugh brought back a beautifully charged laptop for me, no one else wanted to use it, and anyone would have thought I'd be delighted, but instead I wanted to lie by the fire in the cosy candle light and read. It seemed a bit 21st century to start turning computers on. Briefly, as I lay there, I considered giving it all up and just donning a shawl and several layers of petticoats and forgetting all about modern nonsensical ideas such as blogging.

I may have even voiced this thought.
I got short shrift from the 13 year old among us, sighed, and turned the wretched thing on, the laptop I mean, and got on with it.

 I did write something for the current issue of Juno, but that was when we had endless electricity,

Tuesday 6 March 2012


The trees are still bare, their thin black branches whipped in the wind rolling along the valley today, but appearences are deceiving.

Spring is surging and swelling and even with my eyes closed it's a tangible force to be felt, smelt and heard.

A pair of pigeons hop coquettishly in the sycamore outside the window, fluttering  their spring dance in the tree tops. Down by the stream, tadpoles are hatching in thick black wriggles, burying into the soft mud at the bottom of the pond. Yesterday, Leo and I found a decapitated mother frog surrounded by her own eggs, abandoned on the path near the pond. The tragedy of death surrounded by the promise of new life.
When I lived in a house I never felt the arrival of spring. One day I would just notice that it had arrived, it always seemed to surprise me. Here in the woods I see every leaf unfurl, notice every minute of extra daylight in these candle free mornings.

And when I sit alone in the woods feeling crumpled and resentful about some injustice or sadness in my life, I sink down into the mossy ground and it seems as if the earth is alive, warm and full of movement. The energy is palpable, an upward thrusting of spring virility. The woodland floor is sprouting bluebell leaves as fast as it can and baby rabbits are already hopping among the brambles.

When dark winter recedes I wake up too, the spring energy is in me and everything seems more possible and more likely. It rouses memories and connections which have slumbered peacefully through the cold months muffled by winter. Lily always seems more present in Spring, this will be the third one since she left us. Spring rips the bandages off the wounds she left behind and leaves them raw and vulnerable again. It's not a bad thing, to feel them. Winter numbs and subdues, sends it all underground, but with each new flower that blooms Lily comes closer and there is all that pain again, but also the chance to heal a little bit more, to share a little bit more, to search a little bit more  and to grow. There is always that.