Languishing

After the first chill of autumn, comes an interlude of sun and warmth. The tiny creatures respond. On the warm metal of roadside barriers, ladybirds gather. Every foot or so there is another, all with varying colours and arrangements of spots. There are a few ladybird larvae, with their black bodies and orange stripe. Tiny aphids, sunbathing bluebottles, a cranefly and a tiny insect that looks like a stag beetle all share the unexpected warmth.

There is little left in bloom now. A few bindweed trumpets and a single violet among the brambles. A clump of mayweed beside the road. The occasional dandelion shining among fallen leaves and a cluster of wild roses. And yet the violas I planted for summer colour are still in flower and next year’s bulbs have started to shoot. Seeds have been swept up and blown on their way to take their chances. The hogweeds are no more than skeleton spokes and there are only rags of down on the willowherbs.

Summer kept me close to home. I worked from home until September and the heat was too much for adventures. Our walks were short, timed to coincide with cooler parts of the day. I found myself less attentive to the world outside than usual. But I wasn’t idle. The yard has been tidied, weeded and adorned with new plants. I returned to the novel I sent for assessment before lockdown, to complete the suggested revisions. Some of my spring submissions bore fruit. With each rejection I made another submission to keep the work out there. And not everything passed me by. I watched a leaf cutter bee harvest leaves from my rose bush for her nest. I saw a mole building a tunnel on a piece of waste grass, surfacing with a small somersault and retreating underground once more. I watched goldfinches gather on the telegraph wires and sparrows flit through the yard.

In early August, I caught Covid. It seemed ironic after nearly a year and a half of working to keep people safe, a double vaccination and staying close to home, that I caught it at this stage. It was like a bad flu: cough, stuffy nose, congestion, aches and pains, fever, weariness, no appetite. I had bad nights, in which panic attacks returned and I started to worry about the coming winter. I slept and I watched daytime TV. I didn’t have the energy for much more than that. My wife caught it too. As I started to recover, she got the worst of it. But that was nothing. In the same month, a friend of ours in America, also double-jabbed, passed away from the disease.

As summer passed to autumn and the air got cooler, we reclaimed the beach from the crowds. Sanderlings fluted into the silence. A old-fashioned tall ship sailed in front of wind turbines towards the lighthouse. Time has often felt strange during the pandemic, and watching this ship was like seeing another age breaking through. Later, we came upon a group of stones, trailing bladderwrack, planted in a circle, as though the sea gods had placed them there to hold a meeting.

Berries have replaced blooms in the hedgerows. Blackberries are mostly picked or shrivelled on the vine, but there are shiny, plump rosehips, snow berries , haws and elderberries. The ground rustles with leaves and paths are edged with fallen gold, yet looking up, the trees seem as if they are only just on the turn.

I have been languishing in the space between now and normal. But now, everything has changed. If not truly normal, it feels as normal as it will get. I am back in the office for my full working week and have returned to some of my old wandering grounds. I am thinking less about what I have harvested this year and more about what I can do to reap a good harvest in the next. It would be easy to languish here forever, but the season has changed and the winds are calling…

My favourite fairy tale was always Beauty and the Beast, but I was never satisfied when, in the end, the Beast turned into a boring prince. You can read my alternative version, called ‘The Beauty of the Beast’ in the current Firewords magazine, issue 14 on the theme of ‘wild’. You can buy a copy here.

87 thoughts on “Languishing

  1. A beautiful ‘good night’ read for me. I am happy you have both recovered from Covid – judging from family members who have had it, it seems there can be long term effects. Everyone is different. Your descriptions of the seasonal changes encourage me to reflect more deeply on ours, where we are enjoying warmer weather, yet still waiting for the rain.

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  2. It’s wonderful to read a post from you. I had sensed we might hear from you soon. I’m sorry to hear that you and your wife had Covid despite being vaccinated. Your fall description s are delightful
    I love the metaphor of the old sailing ship. Wishing you a fabulous Fall.

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  3. Hi Andrea, I was becoming a bit concerned that you’ve been absent from your blog, (even though we all need breaks.) I am sorry to hear that both you and your wife had to deal with COVID, especially after all this time of being so careful. But happy you are feeling better, and walking, observing, and writing again. Congrats on your story being published! Take good care.

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  4. It was good to see a new post from you, Andrea. I’ve been wondering how you’re getting on. I’m so sorry to hear that you and your wife got sick with COVID. The breakthough infections are concerning.

    I’ve seen a number of posts remarking on how we’re in this odd, liminal time.

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  5. Oh dear Andrea. I can’t believe you and your wife both caught Covid after all the proper precautions. Prrof positive that it’s a nefarious flu. I’m sure it would have been way worse, I am so sorry for your friend (she/he fell into that small group that it can happen to).
    Congrats on the hits and you keep on sending your stuff out!
    Beautiful prose and pictures.

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  6. Sorry to read of your and your spouse’s ordeal with Covid, Andrea. Definitely a wearing thing to go through, but glad you have emerged on the other side of it. Any lingering effects?
    The threat of Covid hangs over us like the sword of Damocles.

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  7. You have had a very busy time since I last connected with your blog. First glad to hear that you recovered from covid, I get my booster shot next week.

    I love the image of the tall ship breaking through the wind turbines….almost from one dimension to another.

    I love this time of the year and am always very aware of my body changing to mirror what is gong on with the season. Napping and deep sleeps are definitely part of it.

    Keep up the good work with your writing…..Bravo:)

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  8. Welcome back Andrea to WordPress, and more importantly, your health, job, and routines. I hope you and your wife have recovered. This has been a strange time with covid and the fallout. I find myself languishing too, having given up on dreams or taking action to make any helpful changes in my life. I’m glad you’re finding some flow with your job, yard, and walks. Your writing still shines.

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  9. So lovely to catch up with you Andrea after this time. Glad you have passed through the COVID tunnel – I had wondered if that had been the case. I’m still awaiting its almost inevitable arrival in my world. A beautiful reflection in this posting as always.

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  10. “Like seeing another age breaking through” love that image and also the stones on the beach. I hope you both are fully recovered with no lasting Covid issues. I am enjoying cooler temps and less humidity here in southeastern US, so I appreciate your thoughts and pictures on the changing seasons. What small miracles occur (and daily!) when we take the time to observe. Glad you are doing that! Take care.

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  11. As always, time comes to a standstill while reading your posts. I am sorry to learn that you had COVID, still more sorry to learn about your friend who passed away despite the vaccines. The leave cutter bee harvesting leaves and the mole building a tunnel assiduously have become symbolic. The idea of space between now and normal is haunting. I wish I could describe where I am stuck with the felicity of Andrea.

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  12. Andrea, I’m sorry to read both you and your wife have had Covid. Especially tragic to hear of your friend in America who succumbed to the disease despite every known precaution. The experience of “languishing” is so real, and I would suspect, more widespread than we wish to admit. I wish you much success with your novel and the tasks that hold your attention.

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  13. I had been missing for quite a while your beautiful creations. This time the mood is melancholic, not only reflecting the time of the year but also on the aftermath of the illness having drained your creative energies. I hope the infection passed without aftereffects and I wish you will regain your former strength in mind and spirit.

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  14. Your descriptions of the natural world are so beautiful. I was very sorry to hear about your friend, but glad you and your wife have recovered from covid. Best wishes to you both

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  15. It has been a difficult time. I am glad you are recovering. I fear that this virus still has lots of room to evolve. And I wonder where that leaves us. Looking both in and outward I suspect.

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  16. A new normal – I wonder when that will arrive? To me it feels like we remain in a state of flux, learning, adjusting, muddling through. I’m happy to know you’ve both come through Covid, Andrea. It’s not pleasant and as the sad news of your friend in America reminds us, we cannot afford to let our guard slip. Even the best precautions are not guarantees. All of which strengthens my belief in enjoying the here and now and celebrating those things that you notice and in your case, record for us so eloquently. Good to hear from you and congratulations on those successes and small steps forward. Keep on keeping on!

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  17. Wonderful to read your post while I too am languishing and your writing is so evocative. I feel I am there with you. Yes, Beauty and the Beast and the prince thing is a cop out! We had a good book modern fairy tale called the smart princess who turned down all her suitors! Hope you have fully recovered from covid and sorry to hear about your friend. It is a disturbing virus as the effects are so varied and even now with vaccines too.

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  18. A mixture of working from home and your writing has encouraged me to look closely at the hedgerows and learn the names of the wild flowers that grow there. I have always been seduced by the drama of the mountains, but now I find equal wonder in the minutiae—and how much it changes from week to week. I have you to thank in no small part for that.

    Hope you’re both properly over COVID, and I’m very sorry to hear about your friend. Good luck with the submissions.

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  19. What a great piece, Andrea – I’m so sorry that you and your wife were sick, and to hear about your friend. We are living through history, and I for one don’t know what we’ll make of it yet. I loved your story in Firewords, it’s a great version of the old tale. I loved the bit about the bag of jewels that the Beast gives to Beauty to help all the young women too willing to sacrifice their dreams.

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  20. The meeting of the sea gods sounds so much preferable to the sort I’m familiar with… ☺️So sorry to know you’ve been struck so personally by COVID. The degrees of separation for me are dwindling but I’m trying to maintain my optimism, and at least I no longer have the stress of working and can take these sort of languid and spirit-grounding walks myself. The veil has felt extremely thin the last day or so, to the point where I’ve pretty much declared it Samhain already. I wish you a peaceful traverse through the season! 💜

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  21. Oh, I am so sorry to hear that you and your wife both got COVID! It sounded bad but could have been much worse without vaccinations. May you continue to recover.

    A tall ship sailing past wind generators is a rather strange sight. May you continue to look for the next harvest.

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  22. I am sorry to hear you and your wife both caught covid even with the double vaccination. But am happy you recovered to share with us your movements forward with your novel, your gardening, your photography. Many blessings to you.

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  23. A beautifully written poem, Andrea. Sorry to hear you became ill but the vaccine is not a certainty that a person will not get sick. A preventative measure if anything. This virus like many others will come each year, especially, in the colder months and hopefully, people will build up some immunity and not become quite as ill. I am glad you and your wife are on the mend. Sorry to hear of the loss of your friend. Do take good care.
    Renee

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  24. Lovely work again. So glad to know you’re okay after Covid! Something happened on my WP account and I seem to be missing some posts; glad you reconnected with my blog. Keep well, and safe 💐💐🙋‍♂️

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  25. Welcome back, Andrea. So glad both of you recovered from Covid. Sorry to hear of your friend.
    It’s as normal as it can be here, in India too and we’ve started going out, meeting friends and celebrating festivals with masks on.
    Enjoyed reading your descriptions of the changes around you and thank you for this line ‘I am seeing what I can do to reap a good harvest next year.’ Its a good mantra for me too.

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  26. Your writing is always beautiful and thought provoking, Andrea. I am sorry to hear that Covid visited your home, and hope you and your wife are feeling better as the days go by. We have been double jabbed and also recently had a booster shot here. That may not be enough. There is much they still don’t know about this virus. Thoughts and prayers are with you both.

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  27. I am sorry to hear of yours and your wife’s bouts with Covid, and your friend in America. The title of your post and descriptions were very representative of this pandemic era we are in, and I appreciate all the beautiful words and photos that you shared. I hope you both continue to heal, and that your writing success continues.

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  28. I am so out of touch with my blog friends, sorry to hear that you both had Covid, but at least that season is over and things will keep changing. That you will be chronicling them is the best news, as always.

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  29. Andrea, congrats on your new publication!
    I am so very sorry about your friend’s passing. And about you and your wife getting sick. What a heavy time for you. Sending lots of (virtual and non-contagious hugs) from Arizona. XOXO

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  30. The title of this post is so reflective on the times we have been experiencing, and happy to hear you and your wife have recovered from Covid ~ a great reminder that no matter how well we think we are protected we must take care of ourselves. I’m with you in terms of thinking less about what was harvested this year and instead thinking more about how we can ensure a nice harvest next year, I love this thought. Your posts always hold such beauty in photos, and also with your words ~ “After the first chill of autumn, comes an interlude of sun and warmth…” and these are the days to soak it all in. Wishing you well and take care.

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  31. Hi Andrea. Lovely photos. How awful that you caught the bug, and after doing so much to avoid it. Seems like both you and your wife are doing better now, which is good. How sad about your friend, though. My heartfelt sympathies to you.

    You may have read on my blog last February, that I had caught covid in January. It was before the vaccines were available, at least to my age group. Thankfully, my husband never caught it. My symptoms were completely different than yours, and pretty bad. The good news is, studies have shown that people who’ve had it still have immunity one year later. So you’re good, at least for a while. They haven’t studied it further than a year yet, because it hasn’t been around for long.

    Continued good health to you.

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  32. Andrea, one can’t help but wonder at it all – to catch covid after so long of precautions and keeping as safe as possible. I’m glad you and your wife are nearly both fully recovered but so sorry about your friend. It is such an in-between time. Your nature writing is wonderfully evocative and it’s good you can reclaim the beaches – we feel the same and enjoy long walks along the coastline. Congratulations on your acceptances and well done on your dedication to submissions – it takes stamina and intense perseverance.

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  33. Hello, Andrea. I’m saddened to hear of your loss but chuffed to hear of your gains. I’m pretty sure that a person with your incredible ability to observe life in its minutest detail to objects as big as ships, and bigger, will emerge from Winter like an express train out of a tunnel. Keep your fuel tank full and Winston well fed:)
    Apologies for the delay in commenting, Andrea. I’m always a month behind. I’ve only got two brain cells left, so I have to go easy on them.
    Keep warm and keep well.
    Speak soon.
    Mick.

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  34. Andrea, I’m glad you and your wife recovered from the horrible virus. And so sorry about your friend. It’s scary to realize a double vaccine didn’t provide adequate protection. I wish this pandemic was over.

    On a happier note, congrats on your submission being accepted! 🙂

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