Dropping off the laundry
A trip to the launderette never turns out to be boring and this Saturday was no exception. After watching the washing spinning for ten seconds or so (as you do), Fred led me to the nearby cemetery. “Well you wanted green.” He said.
Warming the soul
The entrance was gorgeous, twisty sycamores provided dappled shade and lined the walkway which led to old gates of stone. “It’s Mediterranean” I said to Fred. “Carrément” (totally) he agreed. The sun had a south of France intensity (there are days like that here and I love them).
The gates opened onto a large, grassy cemetery, surrounded by the tallest and healthiest of trees. Straight ahead of us was an elegant chapel in the local, black flint (also seen as dark ribbons running along the white chalk cliffs).
A view from the shade
Here and there are pine trees of the kind found in coastal regions with sweet climates. We sat on a wooden bench in their shade, between the shivelights*. We became quiet. Occasionally a warm wind would whoosh around us, as if from nowhere.
Looking around, there were elements of ‘sabi’, such as the grave stones covered in dark, glossy ivy. Only one other human was present, a lady, tending roses. Yet life seemed more prominent here than death, in fact it was everywhere. “C’est plein de vie chez les morts.” I said to Fred. We kept our voices almost to a whisper.
Bird-life was prolific. Crows flew low beside us. Farther away was a green woodpecker with a beautiful red stripe on its head. Then there were the ring-necked parakeets with their cheerful screech, as well as the odd seagull. Various types of butterflies flitted about too, brown, white and common blues. Patches of grass had been allowed to rest, so marguerites and other wild flowers were flourishing. Bees were hopping from clover to clover.
I was reminded of the Australian bush. The level of wildlife was the same, as was that warm dry wind and strong light. “It is always like this in cemeteries” said Fred. You will always find a fresh water tap there too, he assured me. Handy to know.
Walking back to the launderette we spotted a bright-red bottlebrush growing in a sun-baked front garden, a large kiwi bush, growing fruit, pale pink tamarisk and vibrant red geraniums.
… and the washing was dried on the line this time.
*’shivelight’ is a new word for me meaning ‘the sharp lances of sunshine that pierce the canopy or foliage of a wood.’. Definition by Gerard Manley Hopkins, tweeted by Robert Macfarlane. Between the dark pine branches, these shards of light were especially bright.