Tricks

It is like the weather is commiserating, sharing our collective pain. More like a reflection of our mood. The rain just won’t go away and comes in on gusts of wind. A fury really. The sea today was a mile high, making the pier look like a drowning squat. Sea horses in their droves, the new invaders like sightings of Vikings along the coast witnessed by our terrified ancestors. What to throw at us when we are low? Bad weather mostly but in a fever, the bad news stalks unmasked, the acreage of coverage, never-ending, notifications pop up, the midnight caller, a warning of the future that is no longer what it used to be.


Halloween, 31st October 2020

© Rick Frame

Pumpkins


Somehow the wild October always finds the spot in the window frame, a place to howl, sometimes to whistle. The whole building seemed to be in its grip. I ventured outside. A brisk walk had called me out of doors. The rain had let up from its all day falling, its constant dripping dampness. Incessant, thoughtlessly raining on our parade. I was struck by how warm it was – the wind did not have the iciness of last night, having shivered all the way back from the pub. Even the strength was gone, the howl inside was like the dog and his bite – all bark and not much else. Heading down the road, a large lady struggled with bags and a mask that did not quite cover the nose. All rather pointless really. Another passer-by was almost like a ghost, shrouded, as she stepped lightly onto the road to avoid me like the plague. Keep death off the pavements, I wanted to shout. Leaves browned on the pavement, the wind the harvester. There seemed to be never ending supplies of autumn reminders everywhere in the glum light of the closing day. I imagined children all dressed up, tricking or treating, social distancing a nightmare on streets everywhere. Halloween in the time of a novel virus. No pumpkins will be spared in the making of fun in a few days’ time that, up until now, has seemed to have run out of luck.

© Rick Frame


Days


Days like these. I would bite my nails but for corona. Nerve wracking, dreadful days, waiting to know the outcome. He said he could shoot someone in Fifth Avenue and get away with it. You can count on this madness. Tuesday will be the proof in the pudding. Maybe not. Long and protracted, it will not be easy. Eyes wide shut, we can barely watch. It’s the constant noise that gets to you in the end. The noise of lies piling in, the truth dead, extinct more like it, and buried long ago. No priests were available to administer the last rites. Tuesday is on its way, our fate in the hands of a nation, its eastern shores at least five hours flight away. If they see the light, we could all be set free. If not, darkness will be our stone.

© Rick Frame


Planetary


It all sounds very dramatic. The fate of the planet hangs in the balance. Our species has been here before. Like those who tore up the world – the demagogues of the nineteen thirties. Their reckoning came of course (it always does) as ours will surely come. The Artic dropping into the ocean, gone in a generation. Deniers on steroids, like the fossils, they bow down to in a weird form of deity. It is their opiate. The world will watch with a collective breath. It could all pivot on one day and history will look back and say that was the swerve (you will hear the sigh of relief from those who come after us) or a planetary mayday call – the inexorable destiny to ruin. Even with a new direction there will be some kind of account but, at least, the calculus will throw in the idea of survival. A return to decency is what we can hope for, finding the answer to the song: ‘Where is the love?’

© Rick Frame


Visitors


October is playing itself out. November is in view. British summer time ends tonight and two hours behind Joburg. Lying awake with the weak, thin sunrise outlining the curtains, the coming winter seemed to stretch far into the distance, beyond even March. Social distance on steroids. These visitors with no warmth and no heart as the earth tailspins into more contagion. Then I remembered. The refuge of the kind word, the wisdom to understand that a range of responses is open to us. The inner life that can breathe us with wildness, and opening up a belief we can go on and not allow the drenching fear to keep us stuck. To let go and trust our experience, even in the suffering and that fear is only a visitor. Welcome it in but don’t let it have the run of the house.

Inspired by a conversation between Sharon Salzberg and Krista Tippet (On Being)

© Rick Frame


Peace

The days have been chalk and cheese. Only yesterday were we feeling a bit like Noah must have felt and today glorious sunshine. We had ventured out, having an appointment with elevenses. Gosh, I thought. What did we do when we worked. How did we fit it all in? On the Wartling road we were conscious of the autumn colours and you remembered the Lamb Inn on the right. Ashburnham Park was a sight for the paparazzi. Gorgeous colours and dappled sun on the drive in. The little lake sparkled and peace descended. The refreshment of cheese scones and Victoria sponge beckoned as we hit the tea room, warm enough to sit in the garden and catch up with friends on the political shenanigans (we can’t help ourselves) and put the world to rights. A lakeside stroll, and the state in which we find ourselves came up again. There was no mad dash here. Just quietude and then a visit to the kitchen garden and we imagined the secret life of vegetables. How they meditate in the Sussex countryside.

© Rick Frame


Scarce


It has been one of those October days. Splash days, sun scarce days. The wind has found the place to howl. Or is it a kind of strange whistling? I have run out of steam. Committing such thoughts to ink on a page has made it official. Ideas have hibernated, squirrelled away. The burden of the news has carried a heavy weight. Everything has changed, but nothing has changed. Where are the butterflies when you need them to lift you from the future that is being planned by others. Perhaps a November upset is on its way. It is anyone’s guess if the earth can be rescued. Looking through the window, clouds are thick with rain; this is no weather for self-respecting butterflies. Sodden grass has spoilt their landing spots. The drenched lawn, their forgotten playground. A little earlier the sun had appeared, playing hide and seek.

© Rick Frame


Rhythms


The glory of the sunrise. A thin pencil of light just above the sea line. Spellbinding really – it covered the east to Beachy Head in the west. From here, the bay has a contour which is somehow lost from sight when viewed from the other side. I remembered the Bay of Plenty off Durban at that very moment. Strange how other seascapes can be a backdrop in the mind’s eye. Back here, to this spot, a meet up. A catch up over a full English. Then a walk towards Bexhill, shingle then promenade under foot. I could hardly believe the quietness. How the other half live not to work but to walk their dogs. A swimmer freestyled in the calmest of seas. Being free to roam and chat, a healing really, making a new distance from the then to now, creating something, like our own rhymes and reasons.

© Rick Frame


Lessons


When you have done something for decades, you would have thought when you stopped that there would be a gap in your life. Something missing. Like an old friend you would like to see again. For me, it has been a freeing. My mind at night does the dreaming. It’s the declutter. The let go. It is the enabler. To move on and somehow not look back in nostalgia. I think I must have ripened to the point of leaving. I was more than ready. Sitting here in late October, I am imagining. Imagining what it would be like to walk back into the room and meet the sea of expectant faces: wondering what next I would say about Thatcher (as a for instance). But I’ve worked out: I have said everything. I have passed the baton to those who have come after and do the trusting. Don’t let her get away with being memorialised. She is flesh and blood. Like all of them. Not divine lights to save us.

© Rick Frame


Touches


There is no warmth in the wind. That was snuffed out in a dismissive seasonal shrug on the turning earth. We are utterly helpless. Our mad dash to get away from the sun, unless we fly south. It’s October’s fault but the warning: just wait for November. We are weeks away – headlines of all sorts of headlines thrown in for good measure – from that moment that each morning gets lighter. The discontent will surely distract and we may not notice changing dawns, until the daffodils make a comeback in Spring. Goodness knows, by then, we will need them. Even the soundtrack of the birds has been put on hold. It’s the leaves that dance in the wind, the annual visit of the wood pigeons that make us alive to a new deepening.

© Rick Frame