Tuesday June 14, 2005
They cut the big organic pasture next door yesterday, carting the hay away to be dried safely elsewhere. Such a shame because it was at the height of its beauty—a mix of grasses and wild flowers such as you don’t often see in these days of monotonous green grass, herbicided to sterility almost. Even so, it’s a good thing, because it’s proper cutting and harvesting that keeps a traditional pasture productive and maintains its beauty.
There was another good thing about it too, because as soon as the dust settled, my hay fever started to diminish, and my poor old swollen eyes returned to normal. Still itchy, still needing careful treatment for a few days, but the worst of it is over. I was really worried about that for a while when I should have known what the problem was. Lesson to be remembered next year, and thereafter—at the height of the hay growing season, if it’s dry, go off on a few days holiday to the seaside. Or, if that’s not possible, avoid close work and over-strain. Hey ho. I grow older but in so many ways I grow no wiser.
My neighbour was sent home from hospital today, mostly recovered from his minor stroke. I went to sit with him for a little while and exchange experiences. We laughed at the way old age is not for the faint-hearted. Privately, I was shocked. All the fight has gone from him, at least for the present. I hope he’ll be able to find the inner strength to rebuild his spirit else I fear he’ll not be able to go on living alone. Indeed, it may turn out worse than that. People from all over, not just from the village, are rallying round, and we have joined them. Even so…
While I’m waiting for my magnifying glass to turn up I shall keep away from painting miniatures. I need to get out into the fresh air as it rolls in across the fens from the sea and to combine that with my frustrated painting urge, I have invested in the necessary bits to rebuild my oil-painting kit and intend to spend as much time as I can manage out on the fens, painting new landscapes. I’ve an urgent need to do it but no idea how successful the venture will be in artistic terms. As a lung refreshing and spirit building exercise, it’s hard to see how it can fail.
“Rather you than me,” said Graham when I told him of my plan.
“Anything to get me out of the house is good so far as I’m concerned. And I have my mobile in case you need me, or I need you.”
“True. I still wouldn’t fancy sitting by the side of the road for hours at a time. Will you take a packed lunch?”
“Don’t intend to be out for as long as that, not at first, anyway. I shall take a bottle of water and a bit of a snack with me, though, just in case.”
“Well, alright. Give it a go. Can’t argue with the fresh air part.”
So, what’s my kit? A full spectrum of oil paints—violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange, red, plus white and black. A fistful of bristle brushes and palette knives. Small bottles each of Linseed and odour-less thinner, with big bottles ready to top them up. Several good quality 18″x14″ Winsor & Newton canvas boards. A tubular steel easel. A tear-off paper pallet-pad. A clip-on twin dipper pan. A roll of soft loo paper (better than rags). An improvised cardboard paint box (stupidly high prices mean I can’t bring myself to lay out the cash for a wooden one). A large-rimmed hat. A folding chair. Determination.
Success? Results? Don’t care. I’ll take both as they come, and expect neither. I tend to relegate such things to the “we’ll see” approach these days. Suits me well, does a “we’ll see” approach.