This is what happens on Wednesday morning in this house.

I rise at 6.15. I’m in my pyjamas and I water the garden; Wednesday is one of the two days we are permitted to water. Wednesday and Sunday are our days.

Watering the garden takes some time because I have to make sure to move the sprinkler every 10 minutes. Apparently overwatering is nearly as bad as underwatering. I’ve applied soil conditioner, so the water sinks in instead of pooling and then running off. This is because the soil in this garden is sand. Beach sand. Hydrophobic.

I finish watering and Yoga asana practice follows. I have breakfast and then get dressed for my volunteer job at the Seniors Centre. So, I get in the car and off I go. My seniors are happy to see me and I get a lot of hugs.

[144 words]

Hunter’s Moon

I arrived home before dusk, anxious in case the four new chicks a friend brought me earlier in a cat box wouldn’t know where to sleep. Little orphans, barely feathered out, rescued chicks,  released into a strange flock that morning and pecked into their order. No clue where the bedroom was and no idea which perch was theirs. As darkness wrapped itself around us, they became blind, running erratically into bushes and corners  and driven by instinct, peeping to each other in fear. The cats stalked them, I stalked them. All was terror. I cornered each bird one by one, capturing them in a flurry of feathers and squawks, their skinny feathery bodies trembling in my hands. The  cockerel tutted inside the dark coop, he wasn’t coming out for a few tearways.  The last one caught, I shut them all in safely, cussing softly,  relieved at their capture. I waited in the dark until their peeps subsided. Turning, I caught the Hunter’s  moon rising  behind me, mellow,  yellow and calm. My little drama was a scene the moon had witnessed millions of times before. 

Edged

Big, sudden events edge themselves visually and geographically into your memory, especially if they involve terrible emotions. You always remember where you were and what you did when you first learned about them.

I was in the entrance area of our family home when one evening a phone call informed me that my mom had had a car accident and was in the ICU.

Years later as a student, I was in my dormitory in the kitchen when she called me to tell me that her husband had suddenly left her.

I was in Japan with my boyfriend, watching TV, when the twin towers fell.

I was in a train from Paris to Germany with my small son when the BBC sent an alert to my phone: “Shooting in central Paris”, followed by a night of horrendous news, unfolding the terrorist attack of November 2015.

Why do we always remember the exact location where we had been? Like being frozen in time. A snapshot. *This* is where I was at that exact moment.

Even as it happens, we immediately recognise the magnitude and it’s as if we take a picture of ourselves in a moment of history.

Copyright 2019 Andrea Bernard

Conflicted

Every morning, every single morning, I practice some Yoga asana. Now, I read the literature and this is, apparently, not a good thing. In fact it may even endanger physical health. The danger lies in the repetition, day in and day out. In my favour, I do vary the asana although there are three or four postures that I do every, single, day. Sometimes I put in more effort and other days I’m more relaxed.

So, where’s the conflict? Do I carry on as I have for the past two or three decades or do I cease forthwith? I am used to doing this daily practice and I enjoy the physical and mental stimulation.

I tend to believe a lot of what I read on the Internet and that is probably my downfall. Maybe I’m just a silly old woman in need of some different interests. Retirement is not all it is made out to be.

[155 words]

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BEING SEEN

My family sees me as anti social.   They are probably right, but in my defence I have realised that at the family gatherings, like the lunch yesterday for 16 of us, I am invisible.   People talk over me and around me.  No one appears interested in what I have to say.   I try to ask a question, join in the conversation, and  my comments are ignored, or seem to fall on deaf ears.   I can shrug it off – I do.   However, avoid these occasions like the plague, and leave as soon as I possibly can without giving a justification, which would be a waste of time, there would be rolled eyes and shrugs of shoulders… ‘here goes Mummy again’   So, shall continue to be ‘anti social’ in situations like this and enjoy my encounters and long conversations with my like-minded intelligent friends!

Was für mich Glück ist

Sonntagmorgen 9 Uhr 30
Meine Katze leckt mir sanft
Den Schlafsand aus den Augen

Copyright 2019 Andrea Bernard

Marry me, Mrs Johnson

“Will you marry, me, Mrs Johnson? ” Ted asked, putting two milk bottles through the kitchen window, always ajar, one gold top and one silver top. He asked this every morning as he delivered the milk. My mother gave him a tired little smile and said what she always said “Oh Ted, I’m already married, you know.” Ted nodded at the customary  answer and walked away with his head down, back to the milk van, his sadness palpable.  I think he really wanted a wife. Ted was a “mongol” as we called a person with Down’s syndrome in the sixties. At eight,  I wondered at the word. He lived alone with his mother and we never knew who his dad was, or cared. Ted was as much part of the village as the vast oak tree on the green, Mrs Hurley in the village shop, or the village vicar. He was always immaculately dressed in a clean, pressed checked shirt, a home knitted grey tank top and twill trousers. He had a job on the milk-round and everyone knew him. He commanded his own respect and only got angry if anyone was unkind to him. Ted and his mother taught me what Care in the Community should be.

Westwind

Hast du manchmal auch das Gefühl, dass die eigentliche Geschichte genau in dem Moment anfängt, an dem der Film zu Ende ist?

Zwei Schwestern aus der DDR machen im Sommer ’89 Urlaub in einem Pionierlager am Balaton, und eine verliebt sich in einen Jungen aus Westdeutschland. Sie flüchtet mit ihm über die grüne Grenze nach Westdeutschland, während ihre Schwester zurückbleibt.

Mit der geglückten Flucht endet der Film.

Dabei fängt es doch da gerade erst an, spannend zu werden. Was passiert mit der zurückgebliebenen Schwester und der Familie in der DDR (der Staat praktizierte in solchen Fällen sogenannte „Sippenhaft“)?

Was macht die Entscheidung der einen – zu flüchten – und die Entscheidung der anderen – zu bleiben – mit der Beziehung der beiden Schwestern zueinander?

Und was passiert mit dieser Geschichte, als nur ein Jahr später die Mauer fällt?

Copyright 2019 Andrea Bernard

Astray

I didn’t think I had five stray minutes, but why? Most of my minutes are stray. Stray as in “moving away aimlessly from a group or from the right course or place;” stray when I lean on the wall and strain to hear the song of the elusive oriole; stray when I pick up an old gardening book and lose myself in Victorian hot beds; stray when I lie on the sofa and stare out of the window at the clouds. I have an affection for stray animals, stray thoughts, stray people, those apart from the group. So why did I think I didn’t have five stray minutes? Probably because I’m too busy straying.

Care work

It’s four and half years now I find myself watching the slow and steady decline of my mother. My days are structured by her ingestion and digestion, and the proper preparation of her medication. In between I find some time to work, to read books to enter a universe not ruled by approaching death. Which according to Camus is not feasible as we are all condemned to death. Sure, he’s right and what I’m doing makes no sense at all, still I’m doing it – la femme révoltée.