Moving

Days are slow in a year that moves alarmingly fast.  June sizzles.  Days too hot to do much of anything.  Too hot to walk far.  Too humid to move around.  I long for the sea, but reports of crowded beaches keep us away.  Then the heatwave breaks at last.  Wind wicks away heat.  Showers drench and thunder rumbles.  Relief.  But relief doesn’t last long.  June tips over into July and the wind dies.  The air is close and still once more, only the grey-tinged clouds offer any hope of respite.

I walk to the river, down to the old docks, under a broiling sky.  Gulls soar and somersault on the air currents.  The river chatters past in grey-blue peaks.  The yellows and purples of summer wildflowers are in evidence, but the gabion baskets have been crisped.  A few hardy clumps of valerian, nipplewort and wild parsnip remain, but mostly the rusty baskets sprout shrivels of yellow and brown.

There are fewer people around than at the beginning of lockdown.  A purple-haired man wobbles towards the ferry singing a song.  Further along, a family is fishing.  There is a cruise ship docked upriver at the marina.  It has been here for weeks.  Usually cruise ships visit for a day or two, but this one has nowhere to go.  I walk to the ferry landing to check on the kittiwakes.  They have made the barest of nests from seaweed.  Now covered in guano, they are like dusty wigs shoved on a shelf.  I think I can see three chicks among the chaos on the sill.

In the passage of this virus, this feels like the strangest time of all.  Everything is changing and yet nothing seems to have changed.  Rules are being relaxed.  I have hugged my mother-in-law.  I have visited work.  Many people are behaving normally.  And yet the virus is still here.  We are moving – sometimes slowly, sometimes too fast – inevitably to some kind of new normal.  I wonder if I have imagined these last few months in which everything was different.

My creativity has flagged.  The painting and drawing has paused.  I still don’t feel like I have anything to say.  My novel has been waiting for review.  Early this year it was long-listed for the Mslexia Novel Competition.  Later,  it was identified as a ‘quality manuscript’ by a manuscript assessment agency.  They’ve asked to see it again once I make some changes, with a view to possibly recommending it to industry contacts.  And yet it sits there untouched, highlighters on top, ready to be looked at again.

I turn from the river and walk up the steep bank towards home.  The empty windows of the old school burst with vegetation.  Bindweed throngs the banks and brambles are in flower.  Halfway up, the rain comes: fat dollops of rain that soak me quickly.  It is the kind of rain that usually accompanies thunder, but there is no storm.  I revel in the reprieve from the heat and keep moving.

 

88 thoughts on “Moving

  1. Andrea, Except for a few local flora and fauna details, you could have written about what is going on here in Virginia also. We’ve had high (but not record) heats coupled with humidity that leaves moisture sticking to your skin like some type of thin malignant syrup. More people are about while the virus spreads and politicians try to find new wiggle room to justify partisan politics over public safety and common sense. The air is heavy with foreboding that is more than high humidity Virus, civil unrest, economic worries all swarm through the miasma. Hope a cooler fall ushers in better health, better politicians, and renewed creativity and possibilities.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. “The river chatters past in grey-blue peaks. The yellows and purples of summer wildflowers are in evidence, but the gabion baskets have been crisped. A few hardy clumps of valerian, nipplewort and wild parsnip remain, but mostly the rusty baskets sprout shrivels of yellow and brown.”

    This is poetry in prose! Brilliant work!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I loved those little yellow flowers when I was little; what are they called? Yellow yarrows or parsley heads? I can’t recall, but they always remind me of miniature exploding stars.
    I share with you this sentiment of creative abulia and, I guess, languidness, as if we’re still recovering from some anxious fever dream. We are stuck, phasing in and out of a collective trauma that we’re too afeared of shedding, since, as all traumas, it’s an aegis, but we also want to return to the motions. COVID-19 world is a dull, textureless world, I find.
    I’m absolutely in love with your textual hyperesthesia, it reminds me of Sebald, and it’s a bit how I imagine I’m writing whenever I venture into prose.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Joao-Maria. I’m finding it hard to bring feeling to this stuck world at the moment, but we’ll see what the next few weeks bring. Those are wild parsnips – I love all those type of flowers too, especially when they go to seed, they’re very architectural.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Beautifully expressed, Andrea, as always! I feel as if I am there with you. It sounds like you are getting the heat that we normally start to see here at this time of year, except we don’t get the humidity, at least what I was used to back on the east coast. My perception of the year passing by at light speed during this pandemic is the same, although my days go by the same speed as well, and I find myself wondering where the day went.

    Things have been opening up over here, with the predicted results of increasing infections. You and your family will remain in my thoughts and prayers. Keep writing, painting and drawing. Stay well.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Lavinia, I hope for some relief to the heat, though it seems to have been a fitting accompaniment to these strange days. I hope things will settle down once we find out what the new normal is. Wishing you and yours all the best too.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It has been hotter and muggier and soul-sucking gross here, as well. I work in a small canteen of a golf course and the temps inside my mob rise to up tp 34C. We don’t usually get a heatwave in June but boy did we ever. And then again this past week. My grass looks like straw and I’m so impressed with a Queen Anne’s Lace that popped up in the middle of my back yard (of hay), I’m leaving her there. She deserves it.
    I don’t blame you for having no energy in these times. The heat definitely does not help.
    That is great news on your manuscript and I’m sure when you are ready, you will tackle it!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Beautiful, as always, Andrea.

    It’s been an especially strange time for us creative types. Our observational nature makes us more sensitive to our environment, an environment that turned into a dystopian setting this year. I cherish the sun right now. It keeps me hopeful, shining forward, even when everything is off-kilter.

    I guess my best tip for all of us is to look up at the sky then. That’s all I’ve got. 🙂

    Liked by 6 people

  7. I learnt two things/words today – “kittiwake” and “guano”. These are strange times indeed. In my area, the streets were deserted at the beginning of the lockdown but now people are going out a lot but very careful to socially distance. This helps give me a bit of security knowing that we are all doing our part in reducing infections.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ahh .. , Andrea, how we all understand you.
    I hear you, there is an ennui that makes creative pursuit harder. An unreality
    seems to fill the days in spite of sun or rain.

    In spite of this you write a post in the most beautiful prose/ poetic language.
    Like a song, sad and yet observing life around you.

    I understand you but would love to hear that from tomorrow morning you start the last finishing of your book. We are stronger than we know is a popular saying and it is true.

    Miriam

    Liked by 2 people

  9. You have described so beautifully this waiting period – this sort of neither here nor there period. Very strange. Please do pick up the high lighters and finish your manuscript – I for one am looking forward to seeing your name in lights one of these days, because your writing deserves it. Thank you – Janet.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve missed your prose Andrea. You’ve given us a perfect mix of beauty, challenge, surreal, and hope. I haven’t felt much inspiration either. I’m grateful for the few moments of simple joy in nature or reading lyrical prose like yours. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Your words wash over me in a cool stream of creativity – your descriptions are so relevant (and, interestingly, could be applied to our southern winter landscape) and refreshing. We are all having to make adjustments and have put things on hold – mainly, I think, because we are unsure of the future. It is like starting out afresh with little footsteps and peeks around the corner … we will become more sure-footed with time.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I am glad for your comments of a quality manuscript…that seems very positive and encouraging. I’ve always thought your writing to be of quality and thoughtful in so many ways. These times are strange and I think that your descriptions of oppressive heat and humidity along with creative doldrums resonate here too. I’ve just come off of a rigorous caregiving schedule with my mother in law who did pass away and buried just last week. I haven’t been able to separate my own lethargy with simple sleep deprivation for some time, but now can do that and hopefully feel restored physically and creatively despite the heat.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I love your writing, Andrea. Crisp and concise, painting vivid pictures of place and mood. Please keep sharing with us!

    I struggle with the feeling I’m wasting a good opportunity to be more creative – to write the book that’s been in my head these past few years – while the rest of the world is more quiet and less demanding of my time and attention. But then I realize that’s precisely the problem, at least for me. The less busy I am with the tasks of daily life, the less I get done, especially non-essential creative work. It’s too easy to procrastinate, saying “I’ll start/do that tomorrow or next week. There’s no rush.”

    Maybe I should start thinking of writing that book as essential, with no time to waste.

    Liked by 2 people

    • There’s definitely an element of not wanting to waste this time, when maybe what we should be doing is just enjoying the fact that there isn’t an impetus to do it. Though I keep reminding myself I have worked through the whole of lockdown – from home yes, but still work!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I’m at 54oN and I wish we had some of your warmer weather up here. Being in the NW of these islands we are “blessed” with wind and rain on a regular basis, so usually a fresher feel to the weather.
    Your writing captures the languor of summer months in the southern counties and mirrors much of how most of us are feeling during lockdown!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Oh dear, I’m sorry, Andrea. I don’t know what made me think you were further south! I actually live in Northern Ireland and this year it has been so wet and windy! The damp has brought out so many snails, bless them! They have been into everything in our small garden and their abundance had me looking up the collective noun for them: a rout or walk, or an escargatoire! Mind you, that’s not what I was calling them!

        Liked by 1 person

  15. These are definitely unusual times, both in the natural and human world. It is nearly impossible to do anything, let alone think, when it gets so hot. And the fact that we are no longer free to move around, travel, and do all the normal things that we enjoy doing in the human world, is hard to deal with after 4 months. It is hard to hear the news with all the new cases and deaths reported, so I run scurrying to my garden to be amongst the flowers and bees, or walk the woodland trails. At least things are ‘normal’ in the animal world, the birds sing, the deer munch, the fox kits have left home. I hang onto that.
    Knowing that I have lots of company, nearly the whole world is dealing with similar issues, brings a modicum of comfort. We are not alone in facing this. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  16. We’ve been in drought conditions in New Hampshire, but thankfully, we’re finally getting some rain. I’m sure you will know when the time is right to get back to your novel. Given the current state of the world, maybe your mind just needs to lie fallow for a while.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I like your photo of the plants growing in the old school windows, Andrea. Nature does a lot of waiting, yet always seems able to spring to life even in unlikely places when the right time comes. I hope your waiting soon turns to moving with the novel.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Your beautiful words have perfectly summed up how I have been feeling. This is a strange, liminal time and I struggle with focus and creativity too. I’m so pleased to hear of your success with your novel and I hope you’ll find the right mindset to get the highlighters out soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Well, Andrea, you have described what this pandemic feels like right about now in the summer. We have more green vegetation than where you live, I suspect, but still everything moves like molasses in some odd way. I get flashes of creative thought, but then it all sits much like your markers on the manuscript. Such strange times. Glad you at least got in a family hug and a visit to work, but how is this all any kind of normal?

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Gosh, Andrea, you have really hit a communal nerve with this post, and especially about the creative side. I think it is very difficult to create in a vacuum where we don’t know the future. As you say, everything is changing but everything seems the same.

    Thrilling that you have produced a Quality Manuscript! If you would like be to pull a card for you about your creative block, do just ask. Maybe you have had more fat dollops of rain by now and are highlighting away 🤞💦💛

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I just came in from a very busy shop and I’m not sure I’m ready for this new normal…yesterday I ventured downtown to catch a Summer Art Program held in a beautiful parklet near the waterfront which is bereft of cruise ships at the moment…there was live music and gorgeous paintings, I came home via the seawall coasting on the beta waves created by a surreal glimpse of normal.
    Your lovely prose paints a world that is holding its breath with all of us waiting for the exhale…

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Andrea, I always know there will be something special from your posts but this one resonates in a way that feels different. You’ve captured something I hadn’t understood was there and possibly helped to unlock something inside me. I shall reread this more than once and see what comes.
    Meantime, I hope you find a way back to your novel; such encouraging news on that front. As you wisely say – we all must keep moving. I shall try to do the same. take good care, Andrea.
    😊

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Always dreamy to read your words, Andrea, and even if the novel sits untouched, your art is coming through strong and skillfully here in your post. I love the sights you describe during this oh-so-unusual pandemic time, you relay the uncertainty well, with the cruise ship, a hug. My favorite passage is about the kittiwakes: “They have made the barest of nests from seaweed. Now covered in guano, they are like dusty wigs shoved on a shelf. I think I can see three chicks among the chaos on the sill.” You somehow capture the natural beauty and chaos of bird nests while echoing it in the theme. All the best to you, Andrea.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Glad to know I’m not the only one lost for words and feeling in the doldrums! Beautiful writing. I hope you find your way back to your novel soon, it sounds like you’ve already received lots of positive encouragement about it. I’m mulling over the question, should I start taking creative action even though I don’t feel like it, or wait until things feel a bit more normal and I do feel like it?

    Liked by 1 person

  25. The world holding its breath really does describe these last four months. Once I was up all night camping in the woods, keeping a fire going, and tugging little boys back when they inched too close to the fire in their sleeping bags. Just before dawn there was a moment between the night sounds quieting and the morning lark heralding the dawn that was just like the earth holding its breath. In that moment, I simply lost my borders and experienced oneness with everything. That memory surfaces every time I want to judge someone, to consider them as “other.” Would that this period could do the same for our world.

    Your writing simply takes us with both all our senses and our spirit into your world. It does this better than anything else I read. What a wonderful gift. Please finish editing your novel, I so want to read it.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Thanks for bringing us on this beautiful stroll, Andrea. I could feel those fat drops of rain when the hit my shoulders.
    It’s been abnormally hot here too. Many days were 15 degrees (F) higher than the average temperature for July, 109 and more. (43 C) I tried to change my Facebook status to “In a relationship” with Air Conditioner!
    Hugs on the wing.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Beautiful prose and so apposite! I am very late reading this post, for which I apologise. Trying to think back a week or two, we were much cooler here than where you live. Even my husband started wearing his long-sleeve shirts, socks and hoodie again and I was wearing two fleeces on top of a pullover in the evening to keep warm, We had a couple of nights with 9/10 C which is quite cool for E Anglian Julys!
    I am still unable to concentrate and have had so many headaches and stomach pains. All caused by anxiety, I am sure. Once I am no longer shielding and am able to help with the shopping etc. I may feel better. I hope you are beginning to feel less as though you are in a dream-world and you can get back to your writing and painting very soon. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  28. I always get lost in your words. I was right there watching the kittiwakes, and the yellow and purple of the wild flowers. I hope you rediscover the creative urge to complete your manuscript. This short narrative, itself, proves how much you have to say.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. The body seems to be strong but the mind is scary,
    you’ve narrated well as if you are in the land of a fairy.
    Apart from your description your photographs speak a lot,
    Whatsoever you do the virus is there is the only perfect thought.
    Thanks for sharing the beautiful post.🌹👍🙏

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Isn’t it odd that solitude usually breeds creativity but we’re all struggling because of world events? It seems a waste of solitude. I haven’t had much to say just because I’m trying to get my head around the ugliness I’m seeing here in my country. And figure out how to rise above . . . thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

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