The Purple Thing is still eating my life…

Not one of those purple things! They’re English bluebells, not triffids. But just imagine you could see tiny people down amongst their leaves… can you tell it’s Friday?
I’ve only got 13 rows plus the bind-off to go. Barring accidents, I will survive and I’ll have yarn left over, probably about 1200 yards. Might be some time before I feel like knitting with it again!

I’ve been tagged for the ‘Seven Random Facts’ MeMe by Joanne. The rules are:
Each person tagged gives 7 random facts about themselves. Those tagged need to write in their blogs 7 facts, as well as the rules of the game. You need to tag seven others and list their names on your blog. You have to leave those you plan on tagging a note in their comments so they know that they have been tagged and need to read your blog. But I’m going to break the rules and not tag anyone else: if you want to do it, go for it – and leave a comment in the comments so I can come and find out more about you.

1. I love the smell of lavender. I have lavender soap, I dab lavender oil on my pillow if I’m having trouble sleeping, I sprinkle lavender oil under the rugs and carpets because it smells nice and might deter moths.

2. I’m afraid of lightning. At 49 I’ve got the self-control to keep the flinch internal, but it’s a weird fear. My parents took me to see Fantasia when I was very, very young. They hoped it would be memorable, and it was, but (I hope) not for the right reasons. Remember the segment where lightning apparently pursues centaurs (I think it was centaurs) across the landscape? I think that did it: when I saw it again a couple of years ago, something clicked. Somewhere very deep in my brain I think lightning is sentient, and it’s out to get me. When I was young enough to act on my fears I used to spend lightning storms hiding indoors where it couldn’t see me through a door or window. Thunder is fine, thunder is non-existent gods moving furniture. Lightning, and to a lesser extent, any moving light (car headlights can make me close doors slightly more quickly than I might otherwise)… they’re not so fine. Even at 49.

3. As a child I taught myself to imitate loon calls so well that the birds would swim toward me standing on the shore. One evening I was asked to demonstrate this in front of some of my parents’ friends: I think the reaction must have been negative in some way – they laughed? – because I stopped doing it after that.

4. I really like Mexican/ Tex-mex food. I cherish several cookbooks despite living in a country where most of the fresh ingredients are unavailable and those I can find are seriously expensive.

5. But I loathe cilantro/coriander leaves. If I wanted that flavour I’d eat soap.

6. I love walking barefoot. My toes burrow into sand. Hot asphalt under my feet is the feel of childhood summer. I like contrasts, the exclamation points of gravel compared to the cool green grassness of the lawn. I like to feel mud squishing between my toes, I enjoy the shock of cold tile or even snow on the warm soles of my feet.

7. I used to have extremely long blonde hair. As a child in the late 1960s/early 1970s my plait was longer than the average hem length of the dresses I wore to school; when it was unbraided my hair reached my knees. It was washed every Sunday, piled on my head in a towel then brushed almost dry (the pain! the pain!), then braided into a single very fat plait down the middle of my back. Every morning and evening it was unbraided, brushed, and then braided again. I had a white stripe down the middle of my back all summer. It was never cut, my mother just trimmed the ends once each month. From about the age of 9 I begged, I pleaded to have it cut. It was so incredibly heavy when it was wet, it was a nuisance in more ways than I care to list (think about compulsory swimming). My father flatly refused to allow it. Finally, when I was about 12, it was cut to mid-back. I can remember the change in the weight. My parents divorced, I got older and bolder, and when I was about 18 I had it cut to shoulder-length. The hairdresser didn’t want to do it; I told her if she could think of ONE way of putting it ‘up’ that would stay ‘up’ and out of my eyes and everything else (loose hair/braids used to fall forward into the dead shark dissection. Not good, the smell lingers.) I’d pay for the cut and leave it long. She couldn’t: every time I shook my head the new style would fall out. The price I pay for thick, heavy hair. For a long time it rested near my shoulders. Eventually about 15 years ago, even older and bolder, I had it cut ‘short back and sides’, just like my brother’s back in the 1960s. I can still remember feeling air on the back of my neck for the first time. Now I’m older still and I want it shorter still. I’d love to find out what a ‘Number One’ feels like or, better yet, no hair at all. But Stuart (who cuts it) flatly refuses ever to consider it, as bald really, really wouldn’t suit me. But I know the time will come when my curiosity will win, after all I don’t have to look at myself. And it will grow back.

This has been the first bright, sunny day for what seems like ages. We needed the rain, but…
Fortunately I’d already planned an expedition to photograph wild lily-of-the-valley. I’d never thought about where it was native (Eurasia and eastern North America); for me lily-of-the-valley was found in the flower bed by the front door of the house where I grew up in western Canada. Here it is in its natural habitat in an ancient wood. (‘Ancient’ meaning trees may have grown here since they appeared in Britain after the last Ice Age.) The plants shoot and flower quickly, before the slower oaks come into full leaf and cast dense shade on the woodland floor. Not all the plants have the energy to flower each year, and those that do are far more delicate than the robust thugs spreading across my garden.
The scent is the same, even more haunting as it drifts through the trees.
In Britain ancient woodland (this is King’s Wood, near Heath & Reach) is not wilderness: it’s been managed to produce crops of timber (building-size, er, timber) and wood (as in firewood) for centuries or millennia. As trees became scarcer in a landscape cleared for agriculture, individual woodlands became more and more valuable. Their boundaries were marked by permanent earthworks, woodbanks and ditches, and hedges. Several centuries ago someone felled the trees in one corner of the King’s Wood, a process known as assarting. The clearing (known as an assart) is still grassland, with the woodbank visible as a long mound in the grasses. But the flood of bluebells shimmering across the area in spring is the clearest indication that this field was once wildwood.

With luck by the end of next week I will have more knitting and spinning to document! Oh no… I can hear the Purple Thing. It’s calling me, I must go to it. Noooooooooooooooooo…..

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6 thoughts on “The Purple Thing is still eating my life…

  1. Mrs J

    What a thought provoking post for 9.30 on Friday (even though the post date is Wednesday!)At that time I was trying to coax yr 9 middle set to consider the alternative views on globalisation! Love the blue bells as flowers and the blue in blue bells as a colour. From a young teenager until I went to University I had hair right down my back, it was heavy & just had a wave in it -two black curtains, image the shock when I had it cut to high shoulder length & the curls appeared having spent years being pulled out by the weight. It has been much shorter & straighter and its only kept dark by chemicals these days but its still curly & high shoulder length is my preference…… and I love daisy type flowers …. and the music of Bryan Adams. Saw him in concert again last year -I never stopped singing & smiling!

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  2. La Cabeza Grande

    My mom was absolutely opposed to me cutting my hair, too. I took the scissors to it myself on my 18th birthday and never looked back.Thanks so much for sharing a bit of yourself and your lovely landscape!

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  3. catsmum

    yup another ex-long haired person chiming in. Didn’t have a hair cut from 3 to 13 and when it was cut short I hated it with a passion – once all the weight was off it, I had a head full of granny waves … erk … this was before blow dryers and hair gel.Kept it long till I hit 40ish and it’s been short short short since I hit 50.I’m just visiting other FibreArts Bloggers to say hi … HI… love the post on the woods / bluebells.

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  4. Mindie

    Love the English bluebells, they always bring to mind woodland with dappled sun and that smell you get from the leaf litter on the floor. Long hair here too, in fact it’s still not really short as I hate going to the hairdressers! must be something deep inside as with your experience!

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  5. Joanne

    What a long, interesting post! My parents had lilies of the valley on the side of their house; I always remember it as one of the fes plants my mom didn’t kill. (not a good gardener…) Thanks for your natural history stories, I like them and learn from them!What different hairstories we all have!My mother refused to deal with long hair on one small girl and as a result, I hardly ever got past a pageboy until I was in college. Lucky, because I have very heavy thick hair. I have to get it cut if it gets much past my shoulders because the weight of it gives me headaches.

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