My beloved father can be seen in this image, making his way down the garden carrying a bundle of dry prunings, wrapped in a dust sheet, to be burnt on the bonfire.
I recently spent a few days at my parents' home, in the company of my father, my mother being away attending her sick brother in the North of England.
My parents have lived in the same house throughout their married life, and this is the garden in which myself and my sisters played as children. This photograph was taken at the bottom of the garden, and shows the "apple tree plot", and a view of the back of the house, visible through the smoke from the bonfire.
My father and I had spent the previous day clearing dead material from perennials to allow for new growth, and removing two unflowering yuccas and a rampant growth of ivy from one of the borders. The following day, early in the morning, we built a bonfire, and consigned the results of our earlier labours thereon. Both my father and myself had regrets about the removal of the yucca, but the plants had become unwieldy and distorted, and the position they occupied was unsuitable for them. The place from which they were removed can now be restored to the planting of early bulbs such as bluebell and snowdrop.
The time spent with my father was precious, as was the experience of being in the garden. I am all too aware of the passing of time, and the inevitability of our mortality. This garden is one in which I have played as a child, and worked with love as an adult. I know it intimately; my fingertips recall the texture of the lichen on old fencing and apple trees, my ears the sound of my fathers' footsteps, my visual memory the sight of my mother tending flower beds, or hanging washing on the line.
In this photograph one of my two cats, Silas, can also be seen, interested in the proceedings, yet keeping a safe distance from the fire at the end of the garden.