I’d dare to make more mistakes next time.
I’d relax. I would limber up.
I would be sillier than I have been this trip.
I would take fewer things seriously.
I would take more chances.
I would take more trips.
I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers.
I would eat more ice cream and less beans.
I would perhaps have more actual troubles but I’d
have fewer imaginary ones.
You see, I’m one of those people who live sensibly
and sanely hour after hour, day after day.
Oh, I’ve had my moments and if I had it to do over
again, I’d have more of them. In fact,
I’d try to have nothing else. Just moments.
One after another, instead of living so many
years ahead of each day.
I’ve been one of those people who never go anywhere
without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat
and a parachute.
If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot
earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall.
If I had it to do again, I would travel lighter next time.
I would go to more dances.
I would ride more merry-go-rounds.
I would pick more daisies.
Nadine Stair (age 85)
Week 37, already, Google says – somehow, a full three weeks without scribbling down the week’s brightest bright spots. Despite this, my heart feels very full. I love this time of year, I love the slow creep of autumn. If I could bottle this time, this feeling, I would. I’d drink it neat, I would.
So, bright spots, of late. Discovering a clutch of tomato plants growing in our front garden – mysteries abound (who planted them? who waters them? have they thrived despite months of neglect?) A lunchtime cookie so buttery its delicious grease ate through the brown paper bag. A dip in the King’s Cross Pond with my partner in crime/sister. Laughing so much at home, it seems we rarely have time for anything else. Iced coffee outside the National Theatre on a thirty degree day. How sweet he looks in a teal shirt. Waking on Friday morning to thunder rattling the panes, lightning illuminating the patch of sky beyond our window. Knitting a sea-green scarf everywhere – on the tube, during lunch, on the bus. Pruning the front garden roses and watching them burst into life, the very same week. Weekend noons appreciating the slow life at my grandparents’ bungalow. Prosecco and giggles with my best friend. Coffee on a Sunday noon with another best friend. Roasted pumpkin. A haircut. A night chilly enough for the hot water bottle. Fruit tea in the evenings. Homemade courgette cake. Grandad’s tomatoes, sweet as he is. Yoga in the greenhouse. Making flatbreads with Elle. A postcard from Regensburg, imploring me to visit – I smiled quietly about it the whole day long. Scrambled eggs on toast (he makes them best). The slow quiet of morning, as the hum of the water heater wakes the house. That the weather is cool enough to enjoy walking again, and so I am strolling everywhere I can, foregoing the bus, looking up and down and all around, waking early just to meander through these ever-changing city streets.
Ten ways I’m embracing autumn, these strange in-between days.
Cutting blooms from the hibiscus tree outside our house, stuffing them in glass bottles scattered around the house.
Harvesting tomatoes, scoffing them – sweet, juicy, their seeds dribbling down my elbows – straight from the vine
Roasting squash for tea (these, my friends – in a word: delicious.)
Porridge dotted with juicy, unctuous raisins and almonds in the mornings.
Cosy weekend afternoons, curled up with good words and chocolate buttons.
Taking myself out for (hot) coffee on weekend mornings.
Walking everywhere, now the weather has cooled. Walking through the rains.
Deadheading the roses, weeding the borders, sowing bulbs: readying for the freeze.
Knitting again, a sea-green scarf to begin the season.
Tilting my face up to the sun, soaking in the golden light.
We’re at the crux of summer; the days split between thick, oozing heat and days of damp, autumn rains. The air grows cold just before the downpours arrive, and at night a cool wind rattles through these suburban streets. You can smell it on the breeze. The first weeks of a new season remind me of those initial days in a foreign country, where the milk looks just the same yet clings differently to the roof of your mouth, where you can’t yet read the melody of the clouds and sudden storms catch you out in broad daylight, umbrella-less, soaked through.
I went into the garden on Saturday for the first time in a week and found the rhubarb leaves curled and browning, the cosmos stooping with age and the geraniums already corpses, shrivelled and long-dead. The sheets on the line were, for the first time in many months, cool to the touch. And yet summer clings on. The air sits heavy, like a shroud pulled tightly over the city, and for now the sun shines on.
How are you welcoming autumn?
Because it’s been one of those weeks. Sending a big spoonful of girl power out into the world.
Illustration by Jem Magbanua.
He tells her that the earth is flat–
He knows the facts, and that is that.
In altercations fierce and long
She tries her best to prove him wrong.
But he has learned to argue well.
He calls her arguments unsound
And often asks her not to yell.
She cannot win. He stands his ground.
The planet goes on being round.
– Wendy Cope, Differences Of Opinion
Because it’s almost Friday. This poem is called ‘Letter To The Northern Lights’.
The light here on earth keeps us plenty busy: a fire
in central Pennsylvania still burns bright since 1962.
Whole squads of tiny squid blaze up the coast of Japan
before sunrise. Of course you didn’t show when we went
searching for you, but we found other lights: firefly,
strawberry moon, a tiny catch of it in each other’s teeth.
Someone who saw you said they laid down
in the middle of the road and took you all in,
and I’m guessing you’re used to that—people falling
over themselves to catch a glimpse of you
and your weird mint-glow shushing itself over the lake.
Aurora, I’d rather stay indoors with him—even if it meant
a rickety hotel and its wood paneling, golf carpeting
in the bathrooms, and grainy soapcakes. Instead
of waiting until just the right hour of the shortest
blue-night of the year when you finally felt moved
enough to collide your gas particles with sun particles—
I’d rather share sunrise with him and loon call
over the lake with him, the slap of shoreline threaded
through screen windows with him. My heart
slams in my chest, against my shirt—it’s a kind
of kindling you’d never be able to light on your own.
– Aimee Nezhukumatathil