Friday, 19 December 2014

Resting on your laurels - and ivy.

First of all may I thank all of you who have left comments on the blog ,sent me emails or messages through social media. They have all helped keep me reasonably cheerful so that I only shout at Marcia on rare occasions.

I am so glad that you liked Marcia's short story. As some of you might have guessed, this was later expanded into one of the Willa Marsh novels: Facing the Music. Although out of print in English, this is one of the novels presently available in French – it is published by Autrement, a literary publishing house in Paris. Autrement, having run out of novels written by Willa, is now publishing some of those written by Marcia but under the name of Willa Marsh since that author has now quite a considerable following in France and has had some very nice reviews in, amongst other French papers, Le Figaro.

Time to bring you up to date on the health front. As far as the anaemia is concerned, the blood count is slowly rising and I am just beginning to feel a lot better as a result, although I am told it will be another four or five weeks before I am back to normal. What happened, though, was very unexpected. Coming to the conclusion that there was nothing I could do for a while, I decided to just go with it and relaxed. The immediate result was that I slept for more or less the whole time for the first few days and even now am sleeping over ten hours a day. I must say that this is doing me no end of good and for the first time for many a long year I have enjoyed doing nothing very much apart from reading and thinking.

When you think about it, it was high time I had a holiday – and therefore high time Marcia had one too but that isn't on the cards just at the moment.

The last time we went away with nothing in mind but to relax – no thoughts of where a book may be set, of what fauna and flora might be around, of what photographs we need to fill gaps in the photo files – was about eighteen years ago when we spent a couple of nights in a hotel in Ilfracombe. I think that when Marcia finishes the book she is writing we would be wise to think about going away for a week or so and just chilling out.;

Our bedroom window looks out over a field which rises up so that the hedge, with its trees, is silhouetted against the sky (see above). When I first 'took to my bed' not all the leaves had fallen but today they are no more than a memory. I love it when the tracery of bare branches stands out against a dramatic sky – be it a glorious clear blue as it has been for the past two weeks or storm-wracked.

Not that this outline is devoid of all leaves for some of the trees carry a heavy burden of ivy. Ivy raises many questions: in some places it is considered to be a pernicious weed (for example it is, I believe, illegal to bring it into or to sell it in the state of Oregon) but it has its benefits.

I am not sure of the figures but well over a hundred species of insects and birds drink (if that is the right word) ivy nectar and the berries, despite being slightly poisonous to humans, are an important winter food source for a number of birds. Meanwhile, of course, it provides birds with shelter in winter as well as numerous nesting sites in spring and early summer.

It was, however, directly responsible for the loss of a large holly tree that grew in our last garden. The poor tree had become so overgrown that there were far too few leaves to sustain it. My guess is that as a result the roots had suffered because in a moderate gale the whole lot came crashing down.

No chance to get you a blog dog this week: perhaps that idea has now run its course (but I am always happy to post photos of your dogs and other pets if you want to send them to me – see top of the side bar to the right for details).