Saturday 4 February 2023

New Hope

After a mild period where lots of brave little souls have pushed their first cautious heralds above ground we have now been promised another cold spell with night frosts. Ah well, we may all be looking forward to Spring here in the northern hemisphere but February and March are often the coldest months of the year around here. Still, aren't they pretty, my aconites and snowdrops?

The pure gold of aconites

Snowdrops to gladden the heart

I saw the GP about my night terrors. There is nothing much she can do, there are no easy medications which would see them off.  The subconscious will throw up all sorts of detritus from a long life which has most certainly had its shadows and dark sides, and still has. What she suggested I do is to see a counsellor if the terrors don't end. In the meantime, I am to calm my mind as much as possible before bed and try to discard anything, people, activities, thoughts, that endanger my equilibrium. 

She is quite right, of course, now, at the end of my years, I really do not need to accommodate the toxicity of unwanted intrusion by whatever, whomever, whenever. That includes people like Freda. I slowly came to understand over the last few weeks that people like Freda are bad for me and that I am under no obligation to put up with them.

I went to a very interesting lecture and slide show on compost the other night. Yes, you read that right, a lecture on compost! Those who have read my burblings for some years may remember that I love compost and am quite a whizz at producing quantities of the stuff which then, with the help of the handsome hulk, get spread inches deep on my flower beds, there to await worms and other crawlies to pull the brown and crumbly treasure into the soil beneath. 

However, this is not really what I wanted to say. The lecturer was a German who had been a physician in civilian life (pre garden lecturing) and owns an ancient farmhouse with land attached to it, which he has turned, over 35 years, into a splendid show garden and woodland. During a break I asked what he thought of the UK, the dreaded Brexit and the political turmoil of the last few years and was he ever tempted to return to Germany. He smiled very nicely and calmly explained that he lives on his land, tends his garden, enjoys his labours and pays little attention to the machinations of the great and not-so-good. He said : "I have my settled status, I have my garden, my hobbies and some good friends". 

In other words, he lives in a comfortable bubble and cares little for the ills the great and not-so-good visit upon us. I too have my settled status (it means we can stay in the UK after Brexit), my garden, my books, a few good friends, what more is there?  

And yet, I find it hard to turn my back on the world and ignore the state of it. Perhaps I must turn my attention more often back to my great love, poetry. Poetry to soothe the troubled spirit and calm the unhappy mind.

This short poem by the Welsh poet Edward Thomas conveys a message of optimism about the approach of Spring:

Over the land freckled with snow half-thawed
The speculating rooks at their nests cawed
And saw from elm-tops, delicate as flower of grass,
What we below could not see, Winter pass.



  1. Friko, I think your German lecturer is right... not that you have to live in a bubble... but right not to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders. Leave it to the young (or younger). We can do our part by voting and trying not to leave our carbon footprint, but other than that... if possible, peace, quiet, and kindness is what I'd like my elderly years to be. As for your night terrors or strange dreams, mine are so much terrors as confrontations... and I do think that reading or watching quiet cozy stories and not mysteries, etc. before bedtime does help.

  2. What a wonderful post - capturing the breadth of our lives in its way. From flowers to seasons to terrors and even compost obsessions ( we all have our peculiar passions) - and then to finish on such a poem and a Welsh one too! Made my day reading your little missive.

  3. Hope is a fragile essential. Thank you for the photographs of your cheery blooms. And for that beautiful poem which I had not come across before.

  4. discard anything, people, activities, thoughts, that endanger my equilibrium! I am absolutely there as well. I'm with you in that one does feel some responsibility to pay attention and participate as possible. Although I feel very emeritus in that, I realize I have done much and struggled and worried much. Now I have other tasks at hand. And current and fares and the fraught future are the work of younger people now. Don't get me wrong. I'm here to advise and cheer them but it has to be on their terms. Always a pleasure to see you have posted something. Thank you indeed!

    1. Please pardon my unedited dictated mistakes.

  5. Oh I feel both of these. The desire to remove toxic people and situations from my life..thankfully I don’t have many. And to immerse oneself in hobbies. I too love to garden, but I also have taken up painting landscapes. And going out with a few close friends for dinner tops it all off. But I do like to keep informed about current events..even politics, although I hate what I see. But I have learned to view it all with a long timeframe view. Humanity changes, as do governments and Mother Nature, herself and often there’s not much we can do about it and since most of of will never know the outcome of much of this, we should only view it as a curiosity and a hope for the future, that we will never know.

  6. A lovely post, Friko, beginning with the oh, so welcome aconites and snowdrops, and ending with Thomas' hopeful lines. It's a balance, isn't it, between immersing oneself in the news of the day and completely ignoring it all. It sounds like the German lecturer has found his equilibrium, and I hope that you do, too. I pray for you from time to time.

  7. I try to live like this lecturer, Frico. I also have my own garden, my family, painting. It's hard not to care about what's going on around me and to find a balance. I like your first spring flowers.

  8. On yesterday‘s walk, we came across a grassy slope covered in so many aconites it looked like a yellow-green patterned carpet. Beautiful, and a feast for the eyes and soul.
    I try to remain in my happy little bubble as much as I can without losing sight of the goings-on around me. Of course it is not always easy, but I can not help being grateful for all the good in my life, from my family and friends to a well-stocked fridge and regular work, and reasonably good health.

  9. I've written about the wise words of my mentor, Varnish John, a number of times. He's the one whose advice still echoes: do what you can, and not what you can't. As much as Russian troop movements or California politicians may upset or vex me, they're outside my sphere of influence. Granted, I might express an opinion here or there, but being involved in local school issues, or literacy campaigns, or efforts to restore local native prairies is much more satisfying, as well as being a real contribution to our area. I have friends who do little but watch the news-which-isn't-really-news,spend time arguing with strangers on social media, and try to change people they find utterly distasteful for one reason or another. What a waste of a life.

  10. I find meditation tapes for sleeping very helpful in implanting into the mind gentle things to help me sleep peacefullly. I think consciously working to calm you mind in the hour or two before bedtime really helps.

  11. New hope! Springs eternal and keeps us going.

  12. It is hard to discard all the thoughts of the greater world. I know, because I know I'm a news junkie and I know it isn't helpful. I'm trying to be better about it (with varying degrees of success.) I suspect, though, that at a certain age, if we feel we are relatively protected personally with interests we love and such, that perhaps that constant attention is slightly less important than it is when, say, one has their whole life ahead of them. I do what I can -- which is mostly donate or write to my officials. But after that, there i little I can do that's tangible. I've stopped watching television or movies that depresses me and the same with books. Sometimes I might be in too much of a bubble but then I think of the TV painter who paint to do "happy little clouds" and think, "he might have had a point! I wish you well in this. I do think a counselor might provide some useful strategies. At least, I've found it helpful.

  13. Wishing you peaceful sleep. Sometimes we must clear out the rubbish.
    Our daffodils are in bloom in February because our weather has been spring-like in WINTER.

  14. Hi Friko - I must find my book on compost ... I think post war ... and also come back to comment properly. I can't do justice now ... night terrors - I needed something on Nightmares last week ... and, in Wiki, came across 'The NightMare' with reference to Erasmus Darwin ... where he included a poem in his The Loves of the Plants 1789 - Fuseli made a few paintings which was Erasmus' connection. Again - I need to explore more ... cheers for now - Hilary

  15. Sometimes we need to heed Niebuhr's advice: “Lord, grant me the strength to accept the things I cannot change,
    the courage to change the things I can,
    and the wisdom to know the difference.”

  16. I finally recalled that one thing that helped me stave off the night terrors was giving my mind some exercise just before bed. Word games on the computer worked the best...or card games and sometimes Mahjong. Give it a whirl:)

  17. "the handsome hulk"


    What more is there? There is more, Friko. We are not just physical beings, but spiritual too.
    God bless you.

  18. I remember these brave lovely flowers poking up through a cold world. thanks for sharing them with us.

  19. Nice post thank you Melinda


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