The limoncello tulip…

lasted a day before the cat lopped it with a claw. He takes against flowers and butterflies, I can’t figure the coded instinct. I think the rain is getting to him. It’s getting to me too. I’ve been out trying to tape up the car to stop rivulets reaching the engine bay, the old glass sealants were discarded in an engineering quest. Snapped spark plug. Teams of mechanics and a gulping bill but it rolls again. Was almost the last mile. I haven’t been lucky with mechanix lately. I dream of riding ponies along the headland or bobbing over clear waters in a skiff, never opening another tool box. Shunning worked metals. But I can’t swerve my caretaker role. I need more work, need to tap the keys but the rain keeps luring, keeps me window gazing. Everyone waits for their weather to lift.

Winter lingers…

and tests its hosts. I’m in the last days of a big book, have been for a while, ready to see it ashelf. I’m full of plans but can’t find the buttons to press. Went to say goodbye to my aunt in Saltaire. Been up and down the M1, old friends and new starts. Four new tyres waiting to roll. Just smoothing out the maps, ready to venture out. But that wind still blows cold.

All the stories…

and all the lives imagined, words on the page are just the icing on the cake. There’s fiction everywhere you find people. You can hear it in how they talk about their past, their dreams, the way they’ve shaped the world they see. Any act of imagination is an act of making fiction, as is most communication. And any gathering, chance encounter or exchange no matter how plain or unimportant it might appear reveals a new, sparkling cache of words to scatter into the air, if you only have the gift to coin them.

They want to close the roads…

linking the quadrants around the peninsula where I live. You know them when you wander out there away from the houses, the long misty stretch where the fields flood, the 4am ring-road drag track for bikers and their lonely howls, the asphalt lanes and dimpled barriers and litter caught in the bare trees. I feel like I know them too well, these tin can arteries, speeding out on my messages. I’d like the council to go further, ban cars from the whole city, force us onto the bikes. Then I can work on my squall grimace, teeth clamped, eyes a-fire like Ahab’s as I peddle out for a croissant and a cup of joe. But a little part of me will miss the screen out onto the highway, the lines sliding into the fog.

 

Water up…

with the New Year storms that punch at the glass and wobble the zinc panels ten feet over my pillow. Been reading Robert Stone, bottles of Lucky lager in grid-street desert towns. “The mind is a monkey,” says Hicks, one of the players, steeling himself for a decision. Just go, do and live with the consequences. I’m not so sure, things don’t turn out well for Hicks. I mull on departures driving down to the shop in my trundler hatchback. I’m anchored in these roads and routines it feels but I know it can all change in a second, there are things I want to see. For six months or more I’ve been reading and dreaming on Daedalus and how he borrowed from nature to emulate the gods. I want to wade into the sea off Knossos and bob about under the higher realm, studying the cliffs for the opening to the Labyrinth. And I want to get back to Amsterdam, to pay my respects. And there are a dozen other planet pilgrimages and yearnings, they’re all open to me and on my mind, have been for years. I only need to earn the passage.

Wind fresh on the Ridgeway…

and the downs glowing bright in the last of the bright winter days. Tramping over the chalk I forget about what’s happening in the news, which is good. What difference do my frettings make in the blizzard of current affairs and realpolitik lever tugging, whether it’s going on five miles away or five thousand? I’m drawn again to what’s local, the worlds to roam on my study shelf and the lace of streets I can bike to in thirty minutes. I’m laying stores in for the long nights, the world I can explore inside the lightfall of a candle.

The light failed…

and I had to go rummaging among the pipes and clips and rubber caps packed around the engine bay to snap the bulb free. While they still make the spares I can keep the wagon rolling but you begin to accrue ailments. I try to stay on top of them but on damp November mornings you can feel the ache in the chassis and the tut-tut of grumpy, aged motors called to duty once again. They begin to yearn for the oil-pooled wrecking yard, the embrace of the crusher and the last star-bright flash of light as the melting pot settles over the burners.

No curtains for me…

in my room, I sleep about eight feet from four bare glass panels and the clouds. We ran out of money at the end of the build, there was nothing left for steel tracks or blinds. And then we got used to the light and the moon and mostly stopped thinking about shades. I like it when the storms set in at this time of year and beging pounding away, with me safe under the duvet. Like Melville said, you need a cold toe outside the covers to fully understand your greater comfort. When it really blasts there’s a whistle under the zinc sheets and the wind yanks at the open window. It came on strong last night, I woke with the touch of cold rain on my face, snuck across the room by the gale. And this skystreak droplet waved away the smoke of a dream I was riding, one I get a lot, with me lying shivering under blankets in a lampless campervan, parked up in a mountain pass layby, alone, long after midnight, a blizzard all around, worsening and already banked over the wheels. A heavy snow has its own sound, a twist on silence. And then there’s a gentle tap at the strip of window above my head. I sit up and put out my fingers to slide the fabric back on its runner, to see who’s summoning me out there from the quiet.

The yew is sick…

and I know I’m lucky to have it, I want the wood to fight off whatever microbes are burrowing into it. Just a few seconds out of phase I stand in the doorway, staring up at the branches lacing the contrails. There’s some harmony restored gazing at living things, things registered by your fading senses that go on being outside of you. And then I come in for a coffee and a biscuit.

Cloudburst got me…

padding down to the garage to collect the car. I waited it out in a driveway recess, a private gate and a sandstone house set back behind the trees. Corners unknown stand under the sky, a few steps can take us bang into another life. And I cling to my unexpected sights and discoveries in my travels, faces and signposts and shopfronts glimpsed over the decades and never forgotten. There is so much to witness and investigate, an endless bounty of sights. But in a moment the rain has moved on and so have I, resuming my plod to the oil-stained yard, the key-strewn bench and my tin-silk cocoon. I must stop driving and walk about more, kick up the pavement fragrance, eyes open to the world.