Saturday, February 18, 2006



A home-coming after a long absence can be a matter of simple resolution – a dominant bounding straight back to its tonic - or it can be one of those excruciating late Beethovenian cadences - insistent and apparently meaningless discords keeping you stuck in the darkness, flattened intervals tugging you backwards, two notes which should, in a perfect universe, belong together being repelled by an unknown force. Just when you are scraping the bottom of hope, when your heart aches from the effort, all the threads un-knot and you are home.

Beethoven didn’t write our home-coming score so when, on my first morning in Les Couguieux, Julian got up, got in the car and drove off for the day saying “I’ve been cooped up on my own in this house for a month and I need to feel free”, I just had to trust him.

I struggled for about an hour with a sense of biting rejection and of incomprehension. I put my birthday cd of Earth Wind and Fire unplugged on at full volume, and set about cleaning our nest, first in anger and then in an increasing acceptance and a desire to make home a place J wanted to be once more. After three hours I realised that (as my clever husband had pointed out on leaving) a day alone at home was something I have been craving since we met. I cleaned an insomniac’s chocolate milky drink stains off the stairs, smelled about 20 pits of paint-speckled T-shirts in a bacheloid anthill to check if they belonged in drawers or in the ‘dirty’ basket, hoovered sculptures of fallen cobwebs, wiped the dusty film of a month’s US soaps, BBC series’ and four entire viewings of Lord of The Rings off the telly screen, separated yoghurt pots of turpentine from coconut milk, scraped a mouse’s remaining organs off the spare bedspread, washed down the terra cotta tommettes and sprayed fresh linen with organic lavender water.

J returned in the early evening healed of his angst, having spent the day giving tlc to the body and ego of his battered Renault Mégane. (What IS it about guys and their cars?!). The car was dressed with new tyres, hubcaps and carpets and seemed quite as beaming as its master. He prepared a delicious meal of guinea fowl, with cinnamon creamed chard, watercress and loads of roasties. Haydn violin and pianoforte sonatas played and the resolution, after an unexpectedly difficult cadence, was very sweet.

Awaking the next morning after a night of torrential rain, the skies cleared and an email pinged its arrival. A piece written by a friend of a friend on Shifting Light has been bought by the New York Times and is to appear next Thursday. “YOU WILL BE VERY BUSY” says the friend of the friend.


Anonymous beth said...

Ruth, your writing is really very wonderful. The litany of cleaning tasks made me laugh, as did "the guy with his car". And the music metaphor is perfect, isn't it? We are long past the Romantic period, I'm afraid, but resolutions are still happening, even if not quite as predictable...but that can make life a lot more interesting too.

6:55 PM  
Blogger MB said...

Wonderful photo (those curves!) and wonderful news, too, for J's shifting light!

11:30 PM  
Anonymous James said...

New York Times huh - wow! I knew the sense of having a 'private viewing' of Julian's work each morning was too good to last... now I have to share his paintings with a million Americans. There goes the neighbourhood -- and the prices!!... well done to Julian...

10:55 PM  
Blogger Zinnia Cyclamen said...

You are both so skilled that you deserve more recognition. Glad some good news has come your way in this difficult month.

11:41 AM  

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