Shifting

It shouldn’t be this hot.  The view is grey.  A fret rolls off the sea.  The piers are  blurry in the mist.  The sun is at my right shoulder, a bright disc among grey clouds.  It shouldn’t be hot, but the humidity is unbearable.  It shouldn’t be bright, but the sun lasers through the clouds to pick out highlights on the water.  In the empty space between the piers I see mirages, columns of white that might be the sails of ships or distant lighthouses.

The tide is in.  Children play on a narrow slice of beach.  Gulls float on the calm water and huddle on what is visible of the notorious black midden rocks.  The massive autoliner carrying cars passes as we arrive and small fishing boats trundle past.  We sit on a bench overlooking the sea, my wife and I.  It is our anniversary, 25 years since we got together and we’re having a celebratory lunch of fish and chips.  25 years seems an unbelievably long time.  If we have been together that long then surely we must be old.  But we aren’t yet.  Not quite.

Even when you feel that there is no movement, the years steam on, until you wonder how you got here so quickly.  Something has shifted in the last fortnight.  I’m moving again.  Perhaps it was our short journey south through fields of gold.  Perhaps it is the shift in the air that follows.  Dark grey clouds gather like a dome.  Winds whip up and rain comes.  But in the end storm Ellen only caresses us.  In the dene it still seems like summer.  The burn is only a trickle, the cascades choked with weed.  A flock of mallards faces off against a flock of moorhens on the pond.

The police helicopter is hovering, its attention focused somewhere north of here.  I’ve spent a lot of time this year like that helicopter, stalled and searching for something to focus on.  But what has often felt like drifting aimlessly has in fact been an absence of the old ‘to do’ lists and wishing time away.  As the world re-opens and structure returns, I’ve been reluctant to embrace the way it was before.

So I shift slowly.  I start to edit my manuscript.  I use my sketch of a woman and cello to create a painting.  I submit some short stories.  It’s a trickle rather than a flood, just like the burn, but it’s a beginning.  The helicopter still hovers, but three swallows are closer.  Like tiny spitfires swooping over the grass.  There is a hint of yellow in the linden trees.  Rosehips and blackberries fatten in the hedgerows.  These swallows are the last of summer, propelling me forward as the seasons turn.

141 thoughts on “Shifting

  1. What a wonderful illustration of the passing of time! It’s amazing how all these little moments end up amounting to years going by – it doesn’t seem possible. And this year, of course, time is off-kilter – or maybe righting itself as we are forced to slow down and adjust to new realities.

    And happy anniversary! ❤ Wishing you another 25 years (and more) of shared moments!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel such peace and calm whilst reading your post. You seem settled with
    the restrictions and the tempo we have been having. I am also slow to embrace the ‘old way’. The slower tempo teaches you other values.
    Congratulations on your anniversary, fish and chips near the beach sounds
    great.

    Miriam

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  3. Beautiful prose, Andrea. You’ve captured the awkward transition from summer to autumn – the berries, birds, clouds, weather – along with our awkward transition from shutdown to…something new yet undefined and elusive.

    Congratulations on 25 years! A rare milestone (says this retired family law attorney), worthy of celebration.

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  4. We are on the cusp of fall, too, cool weather followed in the wake of the remnants of Hurricane Laura, bringing much relief. I think we’ve seen the last of summer’s heat and I won’t complain about that.
    Like you, I’ve found I like the simpler life and won’t be rushing back into things once things open. It might be a silver lining if folks have come to realize they are happier without all the fuss and bother.
    Enjoy the week ahead, Andrea.

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  5. Happy Anniversary! Chuck and I celebrated our 34th Saturday. Time does fly. I love the rich colors in the painting. I’m glad you’re feeling some movement of your creativity. I’ll take a trickle any day. I’m hoping autumn will enliven me and my creative pursuits. Hope you are doing well.

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  6. The incandescent mist, the unbearable humidity, the hovering of birds have become one with time, suspended in silence and yet rolling past surreptitiously, almost treacherously. Congratulations, on this milestone, and the rejuvenation of the spirit.

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  7. Bravo on 25 years, Andrea. That is a beautiful thing.
    I so love your painting of the woman with the cello. Gorgeous art.
    And, as always, your prose is so lovely to read.
    I don’t want to return to what was but create a new now.

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  8. Shifting, ever shifting … this is far better than being stuck! I love your description and enjoy the gentle prodding your mind has led you towards nurturing and releasing the creativity within. While your swallows spell the last of your summer, I am looking forward to their return to herald the beginning of ours. As the seasons shift, so do they – and so do we, if we allow ourselves to.

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  9. Some very lovely and evocative descriptions of this strange weather. Sometimes it seems just a little nudge can help our creative processes. I sometimes think that is what my blog and Dverse poets help but also some art. You are inspiring me to go and draw the old apple tree in the garden here in London. The sun finally shining and some chores done!

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  10. Andrea, the painting is marvelous! I’m very impressed. I’m excited to hear that your manuscript has reached the editing milestone. You can do it! Now if only I could finish mine… I guess the good thing is that I’ve edited the first half, while I was stuck in this long period of anti-focus. Now to move forward. Hugs on the wing.

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  11. I love your seascapes, so grey, calm, soothing. Then the hot, vibrant painting of the cellist! What a contrast! It’s good to hear that you’re feeling new energy.
    I see you’re reading Jim Crumley’s ‘Winter’. I’m just browsing through his ‘Autumn’ having read it last year and look forward to his ‘Winter’ at the end of October (I’m still reading and writing with the seasons).

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  12. Lovely writing, as I’ve come to expect from you. I do think there are many of us with a general malaise hovering close by. I know my production has been down this summer. I’m hoping this changes in the fall.

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  13. I got up this morning and went about my day thinking it was still mid-August. I caught a glimpse of the date on my phone and almost lost my equilibrium for a moment while trying to let September 1st sink in. Wow. Time does fly. Congrats on your anniversary. Any relationship that stays together for the duration is surely worth its weight in gold. Think about how many don’t make it. Blessings to you two.
    P.S. Lovely photos, and good luck with your submissions. Glad you’re going with the flow of how ever you’re feeling in the moment and allowing the trickle when it comes along.

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  14. Andrea, This is such a lovely, timely post. So much is changing, so much is fragile. Two hen turkeys and their broods just walked through our yard. It seems we have become a part of their territory, and thus their frequent route. They are not concerned about us so we can get pretty close, always it seems sans good camera. I am in the studio where I remain too unproductive which is of course frustrating. My increasing post polio makes the effort of creating more taxing but the joy remains.
    Here is to celebrating with the one we love!

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  15. You did the gorgeous painting of the woman and the cello? My gosh, it’s so good! I’ve been wondering if people will return to their frenzied lives or if this pause caused by the pandemic will result in a permanent slow down to a more reasonable pace of life. I guess we’ll find out when its over.

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  16. Happy anniversary to you and your wife! You’re right about how quickly twenty-five years seem to just slide by. I’m glad to hear that your creativity is returning. (As usual, your photo essay is beautifully lyrical.)

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  17. For some reason, this post resonates well with what this year has brought to many – a shifting of what we expect these days. “It’s a trickle rather than a flood, just like the burn, but it’s a beginning…” this seems to match how I moved forward with this year as well 🙂 Wishing you well, and happy anniversary!

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  18. Wonderfully evocative and atmospheric descriptions (as always). I love the images of the hovering (as if stalled) police helicopter and the winter burn as metaphors for inspiration. Congratulations on your 25th anniversary, and on the creative juices starting to flow again.

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  19. Congratulations on 25 years of marriage – something to feel proud of. We achieved that milestone last December and it gave me an opportunity to reflect on how lucky I am having my steadfast companion to accompany me through life. Glad to hear you are finding your creativity again – your painting of the lady playing cello is lovely. 🙂

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  20. Happy 25 years, Andrea, and many more. Loved your drifting words and slow pace. It lulls us into the next chapter of our lives with so many unknowns. Love and relationships can be strong and carry us through. I wish you much joy and adventures along the way, my friend. God bless.

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  21. Reading your script, it felt I was there in the midst of it all. The light, the wind, the smell it was there, surrounding me while sitting in my studio. Sometimes words of praise are not enough and rather flatten the picture.
    Good to hear the spirits have returned!

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  22. Wishing you both a happy 25th anniversary!

    I enjoyed your beautiful commentary on the season, Andrea. It has been hot here, but it is dry heat, very little humidity for the most part, and it cools down at night. The summer temperatures have been rising over the years. Fire is always a danger.

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  23. This pandemic has shown us how ephemeral time is. Spring was here, and then it wasn’t. Summer was here, and now “they’re” telling me it’s September. Well, where did April, May, June, July and August go? Are they still floating around us, like your mallards, in and out of our view? I’m getting too philosophical, but I’m like you. I don’t want things to “go back to normal,” not because I don’t want the pandemic to end. I can’t wait for a vaccine to help free us from masks and worry. But… I want people to remain slowed down a bit, to listen and look more often at the mallards above, the clouds and soon, the changing leaves. I want to not feel guilty for not publishing or sending out my books to beta readers or, instead, for sitting for an hour just to read.
    May we all take the time to sit on a bench and celebrate love. Happy Anniversary. I bet those 25 years flew by fast!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Wishing you a happy silver wedding anniversary, Andrea. And many more! I wonder if it’s the COVID lockdown or the summer sun … I’ve been in the same state of static euphoria myself. And you’re an artist as well as a wonderful wordsmith … 🙂

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  25. Beautiful words Andrea, as we all hover like that helicopter unsure of which direction next we will be put upon… Congratulations to you both.. 25 yrs a lovely Silver Anniversary…
    May the winds of change slowly shift us all in the right direction..
    Your words always bring calm through any storm.. and the UK has been having there share of tail end storms lately…
    Love and Well wishes ❤

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