Our little patch of Sussex - Diary of a Sussex '˜newbie'
'˜You do realise you're menopausal', Dear Daughter remarked to me the other day.
I wondered what had prompted this comment. Was it my general jelly brain or the fact that I have to keep to do lists on the go at all times else I have absolutely no recollection of what I was meant to be doing?
No. Apparently, the tell-tale signs are: setting the alarm to get up early on a Sunday to watch Gardener’s World, plus disproportionate joy when planning a trip to the recycling dump (it should be noted that Devoted Doctor is equally keen on such trips).
Granted gardening is a new past time, but that’s probably because I’ve never had a patch of proper outside space to call my own before. And calling it gardening is probably taking it a stretch too far. The landscape is very definitely in charge of its own destiny here.
We are fairly hands-off; giving it a helping hand as best we can, but we’re learning on the job. Stripy lawns aren’t really our scene and Devoted Doctor’s latest project is to leave a large area of grass unmowed, to create a parcel of meadow habitat.
The best thing about living here is being surrounded by, and absorbed with, nature in all its forms.
Growing up and living in the city, it’s easy to exist in a bit of a bubble. You go from your flat, to the tube, to an office, back to the tube etc. London must have the most fantastic parks of any European city, but it’s just not the same.
Seasons roll by and you can miss the changes; autumn morphs into winter and suddenly there are no leaves on the trees.
Spring surrenders to summer and you realise you haven’t noticed any flowers or blossom. You may have passed some, en-route to somewhere, but you haven’t really looked...
I still find myself just standing and staring; gawping at the trees and at the sky.
Every morning I open the curtains and just... stop... and the incredible thing is there’s always something new, something different.
It’s a work of art right there, every day.
If I lie on the bed and look out of the window I can see four different bursts of green – a rose bush, behind that a palm, to the side a lilac and all against the backdrop of a huge weeping willow. It reminds me a bit of the VHS tapes we used to have on for atmosphere at party’s in the 80s and 90s – you could get a fish tank or a log fire, and they were mesmeric. Well this is even better, and it’s for real.
And bird song. Back in London we would hear the odd sparrow or blackbird, or the gaggles of perroquets which grouped together in the cemetery trees.
But here sitting in the garden at dusk, it’s a jamboree of song; a veritable sing-off! Bird song used to be just that; generic bird song, but now I’m beginning to appreciate the differences between them all and it’s kind of magical.
So maybe I am just settling into middle age, but I suspect there’s more to it than that. There’s something about living here that makes you slow down just enough to notice what’s really going on around you. And it’s pretty remarkable. I hope we don’t ever take it for granted and I hope we can learn to be useful custodians of our little patch of Sussex.