Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Growing Time

Caught.
And so the year has become June - growing time - and May has disappeared in a flurry of the residents of the Holly Cottage keeping pace with the demands of life as we know it. Phew. We made it through. And somehow we managed to maintain a productive kitchen garden, grappling for bubbles of gardening air in the precious time wedged between criss-crossing the country sticking band-aids on bogs and wetlands and woodlands and things in between. And lest I forget, we managed to build a patio and obliterate all traces of lawn from the garden. Or should that be 'he' managed to - as Alannah, Holly and I expertly supervised and micro-managed. And brought the tea ;)  

Of course, it's not just the garden that has been growing. There's herself. Instead of the soft benignly cute bundle of Alannah gurgling and cooing on a mat, maintaining a comforting and safe location on the cushioning-colouredy squares (with obliging alphabet embedded to reassure us not a moment is wasting on her learning - no we're not that intense;)); instead of being sure where she may reside at any given moment, instead of that now passed peace of mind and security of knowing where she is enthroned at any time - instead of all of that we have an extremely mobile though very cute nine month old bundle that is slowly, but surely becoming covered in the blue black bruises that tell stories of head first falls and backward rolls. Yes, she is attempting the solo stand. And the solo walk. Not quiet yet the solo run but she sure likes to move those feet in something not too far from what might be called a solo reel. Or even a jig? All that spells trouble. And in between trial stands, runs and walks, she crawls. Time to lock the doors and presses and cover the floors in cotton wool ;) 

Time to let go. 

But then there's the teeth. The two up from the bottom are calling to the two on the top and they are meeting teasingly as sore gums give way - painfully slowly for Alannah - to the excruciating buck teeth. She lets us know what's going on, in her own sweet way. My own memories of wisdom teeth erupting - now there's the right term for it, a painful eruption - are less than happy, so I have great sympathy for our soft, golden, curly haired, baby bundle of wobbling wonder. The trials of life eh? And if we only knew all that was to come before we ever started. Would we believe that we could do it? I promise myself that by the time she walks I will be able to do full scorpion pose in my own yoga practice...and oh yeah, achieve world peace ;)

Holly bouquet
Meantime...Outside has taken on the mantle of green and the mantle of summer, albeit a cold and gray one, more than that of high powered sun-kissed one. We shall wait and see. The signs of growth are still there - strawberries are rising to the occasion, flowers are on the Orla spud plants, and baby carrot-turnip-beet seedlings are pleading with the sun to come out and give them some warm and encouraging loving. 

We did have some nice days though - the tulips of May were striking, the apple and cherry blossoms simply delightful, and the magnolia flowers of re-assuringly ancient and mesmerising beauty. And the bluebells..well, if a picture paints a thousand words...luckily, May comes every year ;) 

The blues,
one sweet May morning. 



Saturday, 12 April 2014

An ecologist returns to work

Spot the first Bluebell..
it's there under holly's nose..
Saturday. How sweet the word. No rushing around to pack the bag for the baby for her day with her new mammy. No frantic trundling of an over excited Holly into the car to go to the bog. No fumbling with a collection of keys to make sure I have the one for the door of the office. No updates to the man on what's in the bag and why, and the key messages for the day's agenda. None of that order. Let mayhem reign today and let time flow without punctuation points. 

By this time already, after a few hours already of Baa Baa Black Sheep and much gurgling and wriggling, all are back sleeping again (one never actually woke up, yet ;)) and I am blissfully reunited with a sweet silence that hangs over a far too neglected writing platform. Oh dear laptop, oh what a week!

Working as an ecologist in this world is challenging. For reasons known and unknown, the ecologist always seems to be on the back foot - always struggling to find a voice within a world that is pressurised on all sides by social and economic needs. For sure, there is a welcome heightened and heightening awareness of the benefits of the natural world - our natural capital - about us, and certainly it's not all about drain, develop and harvest. But you - the ecologist, or the one who cares - really has to keep the foot to the floor and keep pushing those values, reminding all of the responsibility we bear to preserve and maintain that value, and keeping that message to the fore of all thinking. For what value a sterile and empty space devoid of life to anyone? 

This week I was back out, walking over an Irish bog, meandering through edges of tranquil birch and then to be surrounded by sky larks in full song. It was great to be back - back in the wild - whatever patches of wilderness that remain. But there, combined with the elation of re-uniting with all that orchestra of wild song, there was the sadness that comes with the sharp and painful reminders that sometimes despite best intentions, the human need to develop, drain and harvest, still wins over the astounding value of nature. 

The future
Time to get back to work indeed. We get to explore some of these ideas next Tuesday in the Mansion House in Dublin - Paddy Woodworth will be talking us through the ideas behind his book Our Once and Future Planet, and some of us will be commenting and debating the ideas contained within. The discussion is for everyone - not just misty eyed and well-intentioned ecologists and nature lovers - because the issues of restoration, conservation, nature management will affect us all. Not least the small ones that come after all of us. Sadly, no skylarks in Dublin's fair city but there'll certainly be a few seagulls ;)




Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Bye Bye Baby-moon

September's baby
Today marks a new beginning for all of us here in the Holly Cottage. And no, it's not just that the spuds have gone in. It's not just that the pea and bean seeds for 2014 are cosied up in their seed trays. It's not that the first daffodil has unfurled its golden locks for us in the front garden. No, none of that - though in any other year these events would be (and still are to a certain degree) the most telling and most significant way marks in the years as they unravel before us here in the Holly Cottage. No. It's the silence in the house that gives the game away. No hushed tones as the smallest of us sleeps. No banging out of baa baa black sheep on the 'play-station'. No audible, infant testing of sounds or screams from the play mat. No Alannah. The little boss has left the building. 

Six months have disappeared in the blink of bleary eyes. Somehow last September we managed to steer our way through the 'baby arrivals area' - bedazzled as we were by that new world of nappies, sleepless nights and squirrel-sized sleep suits. I fumbled through the bewilderment and completely unfathomable nature of the breastfeeding non-schedule. We marvelled at the changes and growth from week to week. We were spellbound by smiles and the new sounds that still come daily. And that first time that she pushed herself up on her  own two tiny arms on the changing table - well, it was just another one of those things that you never thought could be so important as you watched friends and families reacting to their own children's milestones. 

It's a fantastic and wonderfully fulfilling journey experiencing everything for the first time through her eyes, through her senses, through her infant perspective. And it's exhausting too. And challenging, and intense, and isolating, and frightening and the whole array of other emotions that you could easily go through in the space of an hour in the shoes a freshly born mother's/parent's life. it certainly ranks up there with the experiences that you thought you'd never be able for. But before you knew it you were immersed in it and somehow from that bottomless pit of primeval humanness, you were doing it. 

And when it comes to babies, you can certainly forget about self. Being the primary caregiver is a great leveller in that sense as you must (there is no choice) forego all those essential habits and routines that you thought were instrumental to your day. Like getting a full night's sleep. Like having more that two hours unbroken sleep. Like relaxing through your cup of favoured beverage undisturbed - it might happen but it's certainly not guaranteed ;) Like going for a run at the drop of a hat. Like wearing a clean top for more that five minutes.  Like your time being your own to do with as you so please. Like getting your pelvic floor muscles back in shape in an instant - the ladies will understand this one ;)

This morning I dropped Alannah Marie to her childminder. Just for a play date mind. Better to call it that instead of the dreaded first day at the childminder's. Not for her benefit of course, more for the benefit of the distraught mother that left her behind and that never really thought that this day would come. And the silence is deafening. And sure, I got to get those things done that had been screaming at me for an age but I physically couldn't get to because she was wanting or needing me. But it's not the same. Her chair is empty and there isn't even the need to tiptoe for fear of her waking. She'll be back in an hour so there's no need to panic or stress. But the question keeps popping into my head as I prepare to return to the old world that came before - what did we do before her

March's infant.. "lemme at 'em.."
Anyway. We'll be okay. We'll all adjust. Mammy must go back to being an ecologist and championing the plight of habitats that need to be restored and plants and animals that need to be given the freedom to live in sustainable populations. And that's important enough for me to want to go back to work, to make it feel necessary for me to hand over our tiny little baby bear to someone else to care for. And the 'childminder' is a not just a thing - she is a mother and has been there before herself with twins so she is doubly experienced ;) It doesn't make it easy though. And as I look out into a world and a business community that is largely the construct of men, for men and dominated by men, I don't have to wonder why the men wonder why so few women can join them. Not as I have to acknowledge the wrench that is of leaving your beloved offspring behind you. That unnatural feeling of leaving the ones that rely on you, the small people that trust you completely, with another - and usually another woman. It's a tough one. And one that feels more than slightly off balance. One that needs to evolve, along with all the other imbalances in our social and natural world. 

In the meantime...it's bye bye baby-moon here. Onward and upward, no looking back. Except of course to linger on the precious memories of my six months spent solely caring for the needs of our beautiful Alannah Marie. She will remain central of course, but now comes the task of piling back on the layers and layers of responsibilities that were put on hold as I focused on her for the last six months. I wonder how will all those layers sit on top of this new building frame? Interesting times ahead. 

One thing's for sure - there will be plenty of change and plenty of growth and  plenty of new experiences and ample amounts of heartache and exhaustion mixed with immeasurable quantities of joy. Sounds like just another day at the office ;) 

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Spring beckons change

Ageless beauties
The warmth of the sun is comforting on this late February afternoon. It's been a relentless battle on the island of Ireland the last two months - human versus Atlantic storms. We try to keep our heads down as the winds roar - as they shake the utmost out of the delicate structures we build (the greenhouse survived but the neighbour's fence didn't). As water pours from the sky and the waves lift up onto seaside towns and villages, we run/swim/paddle as fast as we can but there are inevitable casualties. 

Of course for us flatlander midlanders there is no fear of waves but we contend with rivers bursting banks and the mighty Shannon lifting the land and all around it. Now, after decades of soothsaying scientists, people are finally taking heed that the global climate is deflecting from the accustomed pattern - the pattern that we have built our livelihoods and settlements and sowing and harvesting regimes about. Whether you choose to believe or not to believe that the current global climatic anomalies are a consequence of human activities, one thing is for sure is that just a rising tide lifts all boats and floods shacks and mansions indiscriminately, so too must we all adapt and strategise for a future that my not be so dependable and predictable. Instead of wondering will change come we will have to get off the fence and start working to adapt to changes that are likely to prove challenging to those of us who were hoping to perpetuate our current ambient living condition. 

spring patch
Here in the Holly Cottage we were spared the worst - no loss of electricity (and the precious bounty of tomatoes and strawberries in the freezer were hence saved), no loss of greenhouse, no flooding of the local rivers but plenty of beech and oak giants toppled in the Charleville woods and as already hinted at, the neighbour's fence collapsed. This means loss of privacy to us humans but Holly has gained a massive extension to her garden patrol area and she now must defend her previously isolated empire from all the bigger dogs from up the road. Poor Holly. 


Within our own little patch we have been gifted with a bounty of crocuses that somehow have emerged from the clearances of the 'old' front garden and leads me to wonder if those bulbs - that have been planted by previous owners since the house was built in the late 1930s - could be as old as the house themselves? Or near enough anyway? What is the lifespan of a crocus bulb? A lifetime or many lifetimes? And then of course what constitutes a normal lifetime (who or what is normal)? And then there are the snowdrops - swathes of pure white that defy February grey. One thing I've learned about snowdrops - when planting choose to split established clumps of bulbs as opposed to planting singular new bulbs. The new bulbs we planted to the front of the house are sadly less spectacular than those I saved when we cleared the front and subsequently moved to fruit alley down the back. I'm sure the 'new' bulbs will catch up but that might take a lifetime in itself...which bring us back to what constitutes a lifetime!

No rain, no rainbow ;)
On a practical front there has been (finally) some activity back in the vegetable patch. The areas sown with green manure (rye and vetch) last August have been dug over to give the plants time to break down and clear the way for the new bounty. Next job is to spread some manure and compost over to replenish the nutrients devoured by the last years' hungry crops. We are currently hot on the heels of the seed potatoes and the onion setts, but that's about it. This year Orla and Sarpo mira are the main focus - forget Setanta if you have any sort of slug issues - they will devour and destroy the soft flesh. There has been 'some talk' of extending the herb and rhubarb patch - given the voracity of the rhubarb growth last year - and maybe even a new patio to be installed for some late summer lounging-about. That is if the sun manages to break through the clouds again this year for more than a sunny afternoon. Who can say anymore? 

All we can do is take it as it comes and adapt. There is stability in chaos as science tells us - the degree of stability for each depending on our own ability to maintain balance in a changing world in a changing universe...




Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Get a yoga mat

Sometimes living can have a way of bringing you down. It happens. Shit happens. And even - yes, even the lions and the mountains and the duracell bunnies - even the strongest of us can feel the weight. For example ;) Take one woman with sleep deprivation, add a demanding adorable infant, a super-hyper charismatic energetic dog and the responsibilities that you accumulate just by being part of this great cosmos, and what do you get? Weariness. Lowered resilience. Fatigue. A permanently aching right shoulder. 

Connecting the dots Snoopy style ;) 

If you haven't even the energy to nod your head in recognition of this common human condition that I've just pictured for you by tweaking the electrical impulses of your brain, don't sweat ;) Here's a couple of things to draw on when you're in just such a state...

Get a yoga mat. 
I love my yoga mat, it's beautiful. It's a dark red colour that just screams of earthiness and groundedness (a new word - I know!). It has been with me since 2008 when I completed my yoga teacher training in the beautiful Sivananda ashram in Tyrol. Every time I see it my brain automatically shifts to calming mode. There was a time - pre motherhood - when I used to carefully and lovingly roll it up after every use and put it back neatly in the corner - back in its  own special corner. Nowadays that just takes way too much time and it is permanently unfurled in the chill-out room of the house. This means that at any opportune moment - a five minute nap by Baby Alannah or a 15 minute take-over of all responsibilities by my beloved - I can enter the chill-out room, lie on the mat in savasana (relaxation or corpse pose) or sit in lotus pose (or whatever sitting pose is easy at that particular time) with eyes closed and transform my mind and body to a stress free state. Sweet. And oh so fundamental for a balanced mind. 

Lotus peace

Make a chill-out corner.
See above. This has to be a place where there is no domestic intrusion - no clutter, no mess, no hint of the un-necessary. If you don't have a room, then make a corner do the job. This is the space where there is little or no conversation, no nonsense talk and no stress. Only peace. This is the place where you can lie down on your yoga mat or sit in your favourite chair. This shall be known as the 'just be me' zone. If you have a place like this outdoors, even sweeter.

Breathe
Lie on your mat, in your chill-out room, or sit in the space that is the best energy space for you - outside can be amazing (see above). Think sun kissing your face or starry night above, or if you;re lucky enough think boat on the water. Close your eyes first. Become aware of your breathe. Focus on this alone. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat. If your mind wanders, bring it back to the breath. Say the words out loud if you need to, or just mentally repeat in your head if you're back on the commuter train. Inhale deeply. Make the exhalation longer. Deeper. Longer. See? Do this anywhere and everywhere. If you have a chill-out place and a yoga mat, great. If not, I've found this to be a really effective breathing relaxation technique for anywhere - from standing washing the dishes to feeding the dog. Or cleaning up after the dog. And sometimes there can be a lot of cleaning up after the dog. See previous blogposts about the family dog - Holly.

Look up at the night-time sky.
Okay, so this can be difficult in Ireland at times. But when the stars do appear through the  heavy cloud mat, they shine brightest in our Atlantic corner. See those stars? You are made of the dust of stars, all of which were once connected together in some form at the beginning of this time and space as we know it.  All born together in some spectacular awakening explosion. How lovely that I get to sing a nursery rhyme about stars every time I am singing Baby Alannah to sleep....twinkle twinkle little star... While you're watching the stars, breathe. See above. 

Give thanks for being a player in this vast universe.
Even if you don't feel it, say it. Say it while you're watching the glorious night-time sky, say it as a shooting star plays tricks with your eyes and your mind; say it as you follow your breath; say it as you stand at the sink; say it as you sing twinkle twinkle little star for the thousandth time; say it on your mat in your quiet chill-out space. Say it and you feel it. And then every cell within you feels it. It's a warm feeling that is probably the human equivalent of plugging ourselves back into the mother network to recharge. 

Give yourself a big, fat, unconditional and generous hug.
Do this as you stare up into the night-time sky and watch the stars that are millions of light years away. Stand straight and tall and strong - think mountain, graceful, strong, defiant - and raise your arms up wide to the side and then bring 'em in slow and give yourself one hell of a hug. Don't feel weird about it. Not only are you gifting your shoulders the stretch that they need after the daily toil; not only are you releasing stress that has accumulated in your neck; not only are you making use of your own amazingly constructed and useful arms - not only all this...but, as well as all this you are hugging a great work of art, the product of millions of years of star crashing and galactic explosions, and an expression of the vast and great and awesome universe itself. Now don't you think you deserve to be hugged? If you have someone beside you give them a hug too. It's just as nice for them too as it is for you ;) 

Take the time to watch it all.
Now that you've hugged yourself and maybe someone/something else (Holly the dog loves hugs too), take a few minutes to sit back and wonder at it all. Close your eyes if you have to. Picture you sitting/standing/lying where you are and just see yourself as part of it all. Part of all this wonder and awesomeness. Part of it all, connected.  And all the time your breath is the thing that keeps you connected. And I bet with all that thinking about all that awesomeness you'd completely forgotten all about the breath...on your yoga mat, in your chill-out place, outside, watching the stars, connecting...

And see? You didn't have to spend one penny to do it...except of course if you had to buy the yoga mat...

Be kind to yourself, see the amazing, be the amazing, breathe it all in, stay connected. And once that's all done you can get back to being the awesome person that you need to be, that you want to be and that you always dreamed of being. 


Friday, 31 January 2014

Pregnancy yoga – a beginner’s experience


Me and yogi bear 

This article was published in Yoga Therapy Ireland's Winter 2013 issue (Issue No. 56); this is the unabridged version and probably one just for the ladies, although the men might learn something too ;) 


Last December – just in time for Christmas – we found out that I was pregnant. Thus began the journey through nine months of pregnancy, to the moment of delivery of Baby Alannah Marie.

As I look back now, the nine months seem to have passed in the blink of an eye, although there were times when I felt I would be pregnant forever and I was impatient for the birth to come. But growing a baby is a very intricate process and it’s not something to be rushed! The whole pregnancy experience for me though was amazingly smooth - no back pain, no SPD or swelling, no restricted movement – except of course in the last four weeks when sitting anywhere comfortably becomes a challenge in itself (get a birthing ball – it will transform your life!). Other glamorous features that seem to be unavoidable for most women are piles and varicose veins, and the increased pressure on the pelvic floor. There were times during the last few weeks when I would get crippling darting pains in my groin area – and that’s when you realize that the pressure of a baby’s head bearing down on that ‘hammock’ of muscle is something that’s going to need some attention to ensure recovery of its function once all that pressure comes off – think pelvic floor exercises as often as possible before and after to counteract any potential problems post-partum.

One of the main things that helped me through the pregnancy, and now three weeks into the post-partum phase, was participating in the YTI Pregnancy Yoga training course between January and March this year. In terms of physical and mental preparation, understanding the whole process and changes to come in my own body, learning about the kind of problems that pregnant women in general can experience – not least how to adapt my own and my class’s yoga practice – the course was fundamental. Every woman would benefit from taking part in the course, and especially yoga teachers who need to understand how to help pregnant women to move, breathe and cope throughout pregnancy, labour and delivery, and what comes after.

I really understand now the whole thing about emphasizing plenty of cushions (for sore bums!); about being super conscientious of the softening of the pelvis in every move; and the superpower of being present in the moment – aided by deep breathing (pranayama) and meditation, along with relaxation (savasana). You don't really understand it (as I found) until it happens to you, as is the case with so many things - the classic learning by doing. But in having completed the pregnancy yoga course in my own first trimester, I had the benefit of learning from the years of experience and insight of the course leader Trish Malone and participating midwife Aileen Murphy to guide me at every stage. And pregnancy is very much an experience that changes as you go through the trimesters so you need to be aware of how your abilities change in response to your physical and mental changes over 40 weeks and more.

Never under-estimate the need and the power
of relaxation....

From about week 35, I really started to prepare myself for labour and delivery. The first stage of labour (effacement and dilation of the cervix) is about pain management and that is where breathing and relaxation coupled with a few valuable poses come in. The second stage – the actual delivery - is less about pain and more about effective pushing. As for the first stage and the contractions – wow, such pain I have never experienced before, but all positive of course. It started in earnest on a Thursday morning and by lunchtime I thought we were in well-established labour - but no! I was only 1cm dilated when I landed in Mullingar Regional Hospital at 4pm - but the cervix was completely effaced and they kept me in. We sat in a room and waited, and waited and then walked outside to the shop (probably weren’t meant to - but I knew they wouldn’t kick us out) - the walking was good and helped me feel like I was keeping the whole process moving.

From about 10pm the crippling back pain began and we realised labour was only then well established even though I had thought the pain couldn’t get any worse. The baby had started to turn her head for some unknown reason and while she had been perfectly poised for delivery for at least 5 weeks previous, this turning resulted in serious lower back pain. I couldn't walk. The midwife was 100% supportive in helping me with a natural birth as much as possible and suggested a hot bath. I actually couldn’t get into it with the pain and ended up heaped on the ground beside it instead. The best position I found for this phase was kneeling on the floor over the birthing ball, with my husband putting direct pressure on the lower (very lower) back pain area. It was difficult to keep the breathing going but the midwife was great in reminding me - she wasn’t taking any nonsense and just kept saying Breathe Catherine breathe. You really need to hear it as opposed to relying on yourself to do it when you're in that kind of pain, and you need someone to be firm and authoritative – so bear that in mind when you’re preparing with your birthing partner.

I managed to get sick at this point and it was then that I reluctantly agreed to take pethidine, as I was still only 2cm dilated by 10pm. The pethidine didn’t take the pain away entirely but it softened the blow. That was when the magic started and because I was more relaxed, I went from 2cm to 8cm by midnight. Once we got installed in the labour ward I was given a small dose of sintocin to progress the last few cms, and I was making the most of the gas and air. When the time came for pushing, the pressure was unbelievable as the baby worked her way down - it was five contractions and three pushes with each and she was out. I did have to have an episiotomy at the last minute, but I didn’t feel it. It didn't frighten me at the time and I just went with it.

After the delivery early Friday morning, I didn’t sleep really until Saturday - home by Sunday, and since then every day is a learning curve. The stitches were very sore in the first week but daily baths with tea-tree oil and a strict policy of taking it easy helped me through. Now at nearly three weeks I can take a short walk but I realize that I must take the time to let my body recover so as not to hinder its long-term recovery. I am limiting myself to relaxation, breathing and meditation for another three weeks and no rushing back to headstands or ambitious poses that I might think I can get back into, but why would you stretch your body when it is still in self-healing mode?

In other aspects, the breathing helps for the initial stinging pain as herself latches on to a tender breast in the first weeks, and those difficult first bowel movements when you realise that sometimes going to the loo can be far worse than labour and delivery - it’s probably the thoughts mixed with the physical so best to think happy thoughts on the loo!

Having shared our experiences during the YTI Pregnancy Yoga course, and now having experienced the whole thing first hand, it is more apparent to me that every person has a different experience of pregnancy and labour and that really the mental preparation (relaxation, breathing and meditation aids) is probably as important if not more important that the asanas in the pregnancy yoga classes. Overall I found the following worked for me - regular walking at all phases of the pregnancy; daily breathing and meditation (about 20-30mins) and at least 15-20mins asanas - either while gardening or outside or a dedicated indoor session, which wasn't always feasible time-wise or physically. I was basically chopping the tops off the spuds and working in the garden up until the day before labour and I had plenty of strength in my legs, arms and mind - enough to go the distance and enough to go beyond that if necessary. I found the contractions during effacement and dilation of the cervix the most difficult – keep up the breathing and the asanas to maintain your mental and physical strength – endurance is necessary, while the pushing was easy enough (if there was an easy) and I put this down to squatting from the beginning to the end (I was deep squatting up until 36 weeks).

And the prize for all this pregnancy yoga and preparation and investment? Well, I just have to look at Alannah Marie to know that it was all worth it and that I’d do it all again in a heart beat. And I look forward to sharing the experience and helping other pregnant women on their journey through my own pregnancy yoga classes.

Catherine Wilkie is an ecologist based in the midlands, working to restore and rehabilitate degraded wetland, peatland and woodland habitats, both in Ireland and also within the global context. She completed her Sivananda TTC in 2008 and took part in the YTI Yoga pregnancy course in 2013, inspired by her own pregnancy. She loves to write, stand on her head, walk in the woods with new arrival Alannah, and spend time with her husband and their dog Holly in their kitchen garden. She writes about all these things in her blog www.hcottage.blogspot.ie 

Sunday, 26 January 2014

A Day in the Life


Run Holly Run!

Inspired by the idea of flooding social media with poetry, I decided to throw my own creation into the rising waters ;) Write what you know the wise ones say, so this one is a reflection of my current days 'bringing up baby'. I hope you enjoy.

A Day in the Life 
(working title)

We awaken
In the dark
Last stars fade
Daylight creeps
Get up stand up wake up sore back
Pull the blinds
Let day begin
Let dog out do her business
Wash my face and watch it fold
Lift the baby
Change the baby
Smile into her smiles
Warmth of joy at being
Mindful princess.

Alannah to play-station now
Radio on classical
Boil the kettle
Feed the dog
Sweep the floor
Do few jobs
Wake the house
Pour the milk
Oats swell up to meet banana
Eat over-looking winter’s garden
Robin’s work is never done
Alannah cries time for feeding
And then she sleeps
Tea for me
And I pretend to be a writer
For half an hour
And work on a novel too old to be called novel.

Sun is shining
When she wakes again
Illuminating cottage kitchen
Change the baby
Happy smiling chatty
Then I feed her
Tiny toes wriggling as she latches on
All casual like
And then she’s not interested
Down on her mat on the floor
And I do a few things more
And then I play with her because she’s bored
Get the keys and lock her up
Lock her up, lock her up
Until heart-breaking cry that only we know
Mammy, Mammy I’m falling - help me!
Holding my hand holding hers
Mother’s best to soothe her
Fall into that darkest space
Where she won’t see me feel me need me
Losing mind to sleep.
And then I pretend to be a writer
Check my email, FB, Twitter
Anticipate the weather
Turning cold and misting sky
A solid roof of grey.

Holly prowls
Time for walkies
Dog leads our circus to the wood
Three musketeers
Together breathing
In the cold
Alannah’s face to heaven
Discovering sounds - ooos aaas
Delivered up to twigs and branching
Beech and towering oaks
Hovering over
Seeing through the canopy now
A tired head falls on my chest
This time peaceful
No telling signs
And I fall into my stride
And I wish that this would never end
This special time
Being mother and best friend
Her cold bare hands in mine
I stare into giant oaks that live
In timeless mystical world.

Holly staying close
Sniffing out woodland clues to
Reddest squirrels
Other musketeers
She looks to tell me with most
Honest of her trickster eyes
We must go back
Home through big open field
For that is where she gets best runs
From over top of hill
Rounding fence and back to me.
And so we go home through big field
Holly reaches for her peak
Run Holly run!
Helicopter ears -
Woosh woosh
Tongue bouncing
Mind rushing
Happiness pulsing
And then we must cross the fence
And Holly waits to go back under
Lead fastened.
Around the bend through castle gates 
Holly pulling us along
Meeting friendly faces
Everybody wants to talk
Or catch the eye of brave a leanbh
Who might gift unto them
Four and a half month baby’s wisdom and the smile
Emperors would bleed for.

Home in gentle raindrops
We walk around the garden
Blackbird following in robin’s steps
I wonder is it time to dig again
Heaving off wellies and coats
Carrying Alannah
Quick change quick feed
She sits and thinks in bouncy chair
Time maybe for another little sleep
I look to evening sky to say
Prize-winning story comes tomorrow
But I will think on it today.

Yogi salutes the sun, and Ted ;) 
yogi bears
Coffee time for me now
Savour last forbidden drops
Hope she sleeps until
Coffee has been drunk
And mother’s milk is cleansed
And then she wakes all smiles again
And then it’s one more time upon the mat
Watching me salute the sun
And I might contemplate a run
As skirts and leggings become less fun

Blinds pulled now
January’s sun is set
Heating on ‘til fire is lit
Dinner preparation at its get
And he asks, what would you like?
And I say, oh I don’t mind
And he says no - what would you like?
And that is when I must decide
And I watch as spice man cometh
And daily bread begins to fold
Aromas revealed
Cinnamon, fennel, cumin, cloves
And I am hungrier than ever I was.

Eating now
Silence mostly
She watches on
From buggy first and then my knee
And I don’t know what she sees or
What she thinks
This and every time.
Eating done
Coffee for him green tea for me
Baby feeds and cries until
Nighttime is too heavy to hold
And she is tumbled down
To summoning sleep

Our time now
We sit and watch until
Tiredness kicks in
My turn now to fight the sleep
One more time she drinks
Half awake then back to sleep
A tender hook in
Rudolph pajamas too cute for her not to wear
This late in January.

Mother lies beside
Trusting bundle of the softest sighs
Wondering
What was it like before she began?
Doors open and close
As he lets Holly out
Sound of his toothbrush
Before we wrap together
Musing to the weather
Tired comfort whispers
Glad for
Silences between
Precious in absentia dramatic
That everything is as it is.

And then it happens
At a time
To us unknown
Only silence of sleeping
For there is no-one now to listen
Three have journeyed past the hearing
Surrendering helplessly unto
Heavy weight of day and night
We fall our separate ways
Back into darkness of light
Back to where it all began
To where it all begins again
For this is all there is
We three are one
Of billions
One

This is all there is.


Catherine Wilkie
26/01/2014