Saturday, February 21, 2015

Not a fox, a scratching hen

Guildford Jane was on the phone last night talking about what she's been doing since jacking in her job as a journalist last year.
As we chatted, interspersed with the odd rant about HMRC warning about debt collectors (I am 3 weeks late paying my tax on account), the image came to me of hens scratching around in a garden.
Jane asked, wouldn't I rather be the fox. I realised then that much as I love the sight of a fox, the life of a predator's pretty harsh and anyway, I'm vegetarian.
No, I like seeing and hearing chickens. I miss my neighbours' chickens, the sound of them during the day when I was washing up in the kitchen, the occasional one jumping over the wall. Jane Fordham has chickens in her garden and she's built them a beautiful home on stilts.
When I moved into my house a man up the road kept chickens. They are part of the soundtrack of becoming a mother, having a garden which was then part of a continuous view that stretched up the hill towards the racecourse. Further up the hill, the gardens used to be farm meadow, so Vera told me, who used to be my neighbour.
Scratching around feels perfect for life at the moment, however difficult it is sometimes to uncover the cash to help out when the kids have emergencies. I am dreading the next bill but everyone in the office where I've started working one day a week agrees that February is a lean, penny-pinching month, still in debt to Christmas.
So this morning I've made a big saucepan full of soup, listened to Ruby Wax on the radio and laughed out loud at her honesty and I'm off to scratch around at the allotment for as long as the weather will allow. I'll sort through the seeds, put some in the greenhouse, well covered in glass and hope they germinate. That's assuming my greenhouse roof repairs have worked.
It may be too obvious, but scratching around is also rather like the hunt for the right word, a meditative state with its own regular movement, discoveries, and a way of life, really.
Guildford Jane wondered if scratching around was giving in to age. It doesn't feel like that to me. I have enjoyed planning two sets of workshops in March and May much more than in the past, because now I feel I have a new perspective on what workshops are for - I think a workshop's like a trampoline, or the top of a hill. It's a starting point and it needs to be exhilarating, to give whoever's in it a sense of the possibilities, of movement, a drive to explore, to try something out.
Scratching around's also given me the thinking time that's started me off at last on the diaries book: a book about family, heritage, race, about how we made it to the top of a 9,000 feet pass in a tiny saloon car, about a beautiful hillside with vervet monkeys, about deaths, schools and birthday cards.
I'm at nearly 12,000 words - working title Venda Sun.