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  • A wild strawberry.

    This was my first gift from the garden of our new house, where we've been living now for two and a half days.

    I'm just pausing between garden (planting out our pots of runner beans, attacking the patio with a brush) & bedroom (a mountainous pile of black bags containing our clothes).

    I'm sitting at our new double glass doors which look out onto our long & neglected garden. The seeded long grasses are nodding, and the rain is giving everything a good soaking. A blue-tit has found the peanuts I put out for them yesterday. I'm knackered and happy.

    But it hasn't all been easy. I've felt a combination of overload and vulnerability - the way our three cats felt for the first day here, eyes wide, easily startled, swimming in the unknown. Will the scary big dog next door catch Roshi next time before he runs up a tree? Will our other neighbours always play music that late? Will the garden be too much for us?

    Kaspa & I have brought out the worst in each other. My get-things-done-and-then-rest strategy has proved unhelpful when the list of jobs is longer than both of our arms. We've pushed each other's buttons in an escalating dance of samskaras (conditioned patterns). In certain moments I wondered who I'd married, and I can be sure that Kaspa did the same...

    All the Buddhist or psychotherapeutic theory in the world won't get you out of the stress of moving house or having neighbours with big scary dogs. Dukkha happens. Washing machines & kettles stop working, cats get chased up trees, there are rotten patches in the shed roof. Patience frays. Knees get old & hurt. New days bring new problems.

    And then there are those strawberries. Fire-engine red jewels hiding under their leaves. Concentrated-strawberry-flavour. The perfect balance of sharpness & sweetness.

    Just like life. The perfect balance, even when it feels like anything but. Dissolving in one mouthful. But always, always, always worth the bother.

    Gratitude to this new place. To Dawn who brought us delicious chick-pea & sweet potato stew on our first day here, and to Hannah & Gill for the cake. To the men who lugged our heavy books here. To everyone who's visited or sent cards or has had us in their thoughts. To all the people who looked after this house & garden before we got here. To my parents & my brother-the-solicitor who made the move possible. Here's to our new house. *clink*

    *

    "What I get, I bring home to you:
    a dark handful, sweet-edged,
    dissolving in one mouthful.

    I bother to bring them for you
    though they’re so quickly over,
    pulpless, sliding to juice

    a grainy rub on the tongue
    and the taste’s gone.

    ..."

    From Wild Strawberries by Helen Dunmore

    Wild strawberry photo by netzanette via Creative Commons
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