22 July 2008

windfall day

I never finished Dickens’ Bleak House, but I do remember the character who used to retreat to his den when the wind turned to the east and became like a bear with a sore head in his "growlery". Today the wind turned to the south and, instead of the unpredictable and chilly winds we have had over the last week or so, I woke up to a blue sky and the promise of a warm English summer’s day. Some cloud, not enough to be grey and gloomy but sufficient to provide architectural relief to the sky. In other words, a typical sunny but cloudy English summer’s day, one where we come out of our dens to enjoy the sunshine, however short lived.

It’s an ill wind that blows no good, as y’all know. So yesterday when I came home, I was very grateful for the north- east-wind-blown-down flowers that arrived from John’s Cable Street garden – cloth of gold and globe thistle- (such lusciously expectant names). The inspectors came round recently to examine his garden for the Tower Hamlets in Bloom competition, and as often happens at this time of year the eddying summer winds had wreaked havoc in the garden. My gain, and hoorah to that.

So when I opened up my newspaper this morning I was wholly receptive to the idea of windfalls. There they were, a bundle of HF-W recipes for pickles using courgettes. Ours are fruiting and, because there are always one or two that develop Jack -and –the- Beanstalk aspirations, I’ve been wondering how I’m going keep them under control. So expect at least one or two tales of “chutney eye” over the next few weeks. (I'll let you know what happened to these later this week).

Indulge me a little and let me elaborate on the theme of windfalls. The loveliness of windfalls is that they are unexpected, not quite surprises, but more the expected unexpected. In other words, there is an expectation, but you are not quite sure how it will pan out. And the more open you are to finding pleasure in the everyday, the greater the potential. Well, it was my birthday today. We don’t do extravagant in this house, but we do thrift well, very well, perhaps too well sometimes. My beautifully wrapped present (using my ribbon) from my son was this…

… a packet of pastel sticks he found lying in the road on the way home one day this week. Full of promise, nevertheless.

I did not plan a day of birthday treats because I had some work commitments. But the treats turned up anyway. A successful presentation at a meeting. A yoga class that impressed the memory of relaxation on the body. A surprising shift in how I feel about sport (I’ve never been keen) inspired by a short and moving speech from a paralympian (part of my day job). A birthday kiss from my beautifully bathed and exuberant little niece. A bottle of champagne with my favourite supper.

Birthday cards that that said between the lines, “we knew you'd like this” – flowers, gardens, harvesting, a lazy day on the beach reading with your best friend.

I'd never heard of Harold Harvey before and, from two friends who have never met, pictures of a perfect day. On The Sands...

and Donkey Meadow (mmm,next year, maybe).

Then, as the sun went down, Elgar’s first symphony on Radio 3's proms.

Excuse me if this is sentimental, but I’m pretty overwhelmed with the wonderfulness of such windfall pleasures and, (indulge me a little more), as Elgar said about the inspiration for his first symphony,a "massive' hope in the future". Today at least.

PS An aide-memoire for my brother.


Elizabeth said...

Happy Birthday!! Sounds like you had a very nice and relaxing one :)

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