Friday, 1 April 2016

those calm repeated actions that knit up the ravell'd mind

I woke this morning exhausted, ill and unhappy. After a bit of stumbling around (coffee, brooding, a few swipes at rubbish yoga, turning the radio on, becoming annoyed and turning it off again) I ended up in the garden, standing over my Rhododendron.

At this time of year, the spring growth is showing, but not yet abundant. The first hints of flower buds were showing in the whorls of leaves, but most of them were crufted up with leaves from next door's twisted willow. I freed one bud, then another. I fetched out the loppers to take of a few dead branches (the recovery from last year's near death experience is still fragile) and then I was working, one of those small, steady tasks that tidy a plant, relieve its stress and set it right.

Absorbed in the simplework, my ravell'd mind began to knit, and under the pressures of coffee, sunshine, and a steady, repetitive, useful task, my dark mood started to lift. As  I worked I marked the next set of tasks; cut back the ivy, water the leaves, first feed of the growing season... it goes on. A garden can absorb all the time you give it; and give good returns at every level of effort.

I'm tired again now, but somewhat afraid of rubbish sleep, the sort that leaves you tired and wretched in the morning. Ravell'd mind is Macbeth, of course - his colossal wibble about killing sleep:
Methought I heard a voice cry 'Sleep no more!
Macbeth does murder sleep', the innocent sleep
Sleep that knits up the ravell'd sleeve of care,
The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feast--
here, Lady Macbeth interrupts him, but he ignores her and continues;
Still it cried 'Sleep no more!' to all the house:
Glamis hath murder'd sleep, and therefore Cawdor
Shall sleep no more; Macbeth shall sleep no more.'
I meant to have a good session in the garden when I got back from town, but I was too late and too tired to do much more than pot on my new plugs, pot up some sweetpeas, a little more knitting for my still-ravell'd mind.

I hope tonight's sleep is better.

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