Blue Smoke

The bluebells are late flowering this year. He is reading from The Times’s Nature’s Diary column. Banks of them along the woodland floor will look like blue smoke. Blue smoke, what a lovely image. And I can see it. I long to go to the woods. The woods on a sunny day where the light is dappled. I love bluebells. The colour of them is a wonder. We pass so many woods in the car on our trips. Let’s stop, I yearn to say, let’s stop the car and walk a bit.

Outside the mist is slowly lifting. It was coming from the sea when I walked this morning. I could see it, also like a smoke, lit up by the streetlights. A wet, moving fog coming inland, covering all in its blanket of haze. I like it. I like the enclosing sensation it gives.

The warm nights encourage people out onto the beach and the Prom. Wandering souls. I heard a group of them on the beach by South Marine Terrace.A dog barked and I saw the smoke from their fire. I love that smell. Warm, slightly damp wood smoke. I am glad for them that the nights are getting warmer. I’m glad for the man who sleeps under the castle on that bench. Yesterday morning he was sitting up. Do I greet him? Does he prefer silence? I silently nod to him as I stride past. Good morning, I hope you got some rest.

They’ve cleared some of the Prom of its debris but the middle section is still strewn with sand.

We talked about work. What the word work means. It is always good to talk to him. He gives me his whole attention. He is patient, interested. I couldn’t ask for more. We talked over coffee, sitting in the sun, waiting till I had to leave to walk up the hill to work. What is work? Why attach such worthiness to it? She works so hard. Oh, she’s a hard-worker. I’ve never worked so hard in my life. Such worthiness. But is it always so? Why do we work? For money, obviously but there is more. A sense of self? Status? A way of filling time. Of finding meaning. And yet is that is all there is. How empty. It can’t be all. Though there has been times when I’ve wanted it to be so. Perhaps you could call it different things, he said. A good idea. It isn’t all the same. What I do up at the studio is a means to end but what I do in my studio is far more than that. And yet, I do many things in my studio, writing as well as making. Isn’t it marvellous that you have time to think about it all? he said. Yes, though I have to bite my tongue. I know, I wanted to say snappishly, I know how lucky I am. And yet there is still some sorrow, isn’t there? Having to look at it, to go through the bones of it is not easy. I see the patterns now. The grooves I so easily fall into. But the space left by the letting go of such habits is a fearful one. So empty. So new. What do I do with it?

Give it time. Cogitate on it. It will all come right, said the man with the Siamese cat. It will all come right.

But how will I know? I wanted to ask but didn’t ask. How will I know what is right?