Thursday, 20 May 2010


One of my most cherished possessions is a small, blue glass jar, of the sort usually containing ointment, or a preparation for the skin, when new. I dug it out of the ground, whilst living at the lodge in Hampshire; we unearthed a good deal of spoil buried by previous occupants of the site.
When my partner and I first moved to Somerset, and lived for a short while in a tiny rented cottage, it was my habit to cut wildflowers from the wayside, and place them in the blue jar on the mantelpiece of our bedroom. As the cottage had been a turnpike cottage in the 18th century, it was built on the very edge of a now busy road. The bedroom overlooked the road and thus was noisy and dusty. It was dimly lit; the posy on the mantelpiece seemed to offer up a light of its own, especially when it contained yellow flowers. Throughout the Summer I picked a succession of small posies, buttercup, wild geranium, thistle, dead nettle, and snowberry from the hedge, each posy slightly different from the one preceding it. In the Autumn, when I was admitted to hospital, the posy contained flowers from the later months of the year. On discharge, several weeks later, the posy was still intact in the bedroom, sere and shrunken. I removed it, and kept it, wrapping it in tissue and placing it in a small box, where it still remains.
I have continued the practice of cutting tiny flowers to place in the jar. Now the flowers come from the garden of the house that we rent, and exhibit a difference from the wild posies that I used to gather at the cottage. The garden has a rockery, mauve and white Aubretia swarming over the stones, which looks well in the glass jar when it is picked. This Spring, I have kept each little posy as it finishes, and have laid them on tissue paper in the kitchen, where each day I struggle with the fear that prevents me from trying to draw them.

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