Dog Roses and Yeast

I love the scent of them, even more than a standard, hybrid garden rose. There is a wild headiness to their perfume that their cultivated cousins do not have. There are several bushes of them in the Castle park and some smaller, white climbing ones near where he parks our car. I push my nose in close. The smell is stronger later in the day or first thing in the morning. It makes me thing of the jasmine I catch in the air in Spain. It is the small things, they are my solace as I age and all those dreams fall away.

I give myself daily tasks, it is a way of ordering my time, of giving myself a structure and an opportunity to weigh up my worth. An hour or so on his quilt. I’ve still much to do but I found that by pulling the table out there was more room to manage its unwieldiness. And I baked some bread using the yeast I’d frozen all those weeks ago. Will it respond? I asked myself, and it did wonderfully, prodigiously. It foamed and foamed. Gorgeous. What a thing. And the bread seems OK. It looked nice liberally sprinkled with sunflower seeds. When I cut into it the texture looked soft, almost cake-like. He is yet to try it. He wrinkles his nose a little over the seeds (they get in his teeth) but seems open to being guinea pig. Besides he likes to know that I’m upstairs doing it. It makes me feel cosy, he says. I know what he means. I like the idea too, even if the effort and the standing required is much. And it’s nice to make things. And bread, even though I no longer eat it, is such a staple. And I like to experiment, adapting the recipes so that I don’t have to follow them to the letter.

Few people were about this morning. A student came out of one of the Halls wearing a pair of shorts. I saw him later climbing Penglais Hill. The wind was too strong for the harbour. I’ve missed the Perygl. Tomorrow perhaps. I shall sew today. I’m stuck on a particularly tricky pattern and have had to unpick several times. Heigh ho, it is my discipline, it keeps me steady. I think of her as I sew. And her. And I finished my glorious Dickens. I am a little bereft. Was Drood murdered? Was Jasper the killer? Who is Datchery? Silence. Unfinished. What a glory. What next? A biography of Dorothy L Sayers that so far looks promising. Listening to Great Lives on Radio 4 prompted me to buy it. Yet I still long for my Crisparkle……

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.