1848/22nd September 2022

Good memories and bad , in my experience anyway, are often intertwined.

It had never occurred to me until this morning.

We have one of those fine Fall days of scattered cloud and warm sunny intervals with just the hint of a chill in the blustery wind.

A perfect day to attend to those few things I am still able to manage in the garden.

Pottering about, I communed with Nature:

“Thank you for making pretty flowers for me this summer. Have a good rest until next year”

…and so on. Plants ought to know they are appreciated!

The only sound was of the wind in the woods above the house and suddenly I was twelve again, in my first boarding school.

That school was in the highlands of Vietnam where it got quite cool at times. We were surrounded by pine trees that caught the wind in just the same way and I am always reminded of it when I hear that sound.

After a year, it was deemed unsafe for me to return to Vietnam, so I was transferred to a boarding school in Cambodia. It was situated beside a seaside town, a stone’s throw from a beach.

The moon often reminds me of that second boarding school because I used to watch her rise over the hill behind our building. She felt like a friend.

The setting of the Cambodian school was magical, a tropical paradise where sunsets were so stunning, we were regularly allowed to leave our studies to go and watch.

Those two schools were detestable. Not for reasons of homesickness, or lack of privacy and not because of the ghastly food. Those are things you adjust to.

Those two years were just an unhappy experience for many reasons.

So you might think it unpleasant to be reminded.

There I was in the garden this morning, listening to the wind and picturing the pine trees in Dalat and the feeling I had was peace.

Similarly, when I am reminded of Kep, in Cambodia, it only ever evokes a sense of harmony. In the evening there, quite often I would go to listen to the Franciscan friars chant their evensong.

Shafts of light from the setting sun lit up the tiny wooden chapel. I was no more religious then than I am now, but those evenings could almost have made me a believer.

Lying inside my mosquito net at night, the soothing sound of waves caressing the beach lulled me to sleep.

It has always been Nature that rescued me from whatever human mess I found myself in.

In Nature I never had to put on a false face or pretend to be anything other than what I was.

The rising and setting of the Sun and Moon were constant, no matter what and there was comfort in that.

When I feel overcome by bad events or sad news, of which there seems these days an inexhaustible supply, I look up and I try to envision all of human history in a timeline. Over hundreds of thousands of years, human drama has not affected the motion of the planets.

It reduces our existence to utter insignificance.

Why should that make me feel better?

Perhaps it’s that I believe when we leave our earthly form, whatever energy it is that animates us is released back out there.

Maybe it’s a longing for “home”?

7 thoughts on “Home?

  1. Since moving from London to the countryside, I have learned to communicate with nature, albeit late in life. I listen to the wind in the trees, feel the strength of storms, and watch the light change frequently as the day progresses. My safe place is lying in bed in complete darkkness, listening to the Owls calling to each other nearby. When I am gone and forgotten, Owls will still be calling.
    Best wishes. Pete.

    1. Owls have always been a favourite of mine. My bed became my safe place too after we left London. As a child I was afraid of being kidnapped from it. I was actually thinking of writing about childhood fears…

      1. My main childhood fear was nuclear war. We used to have drills at school about what to do when the Soviets dropped atom bombs on London. That gave me nightmares. You should write about those fears, Carolyn.

  2. Nature is indeed a wonderful companion – ask no questions and just keep on giving … like your flowers this summer (and our flowers this spring). The sounds you hear when all is quiet, that is special.

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