Warning – schmaltz alert! Dangerously low sarcasm index in this post. If you’re here for the usual cynicism, you’re welcome to browse previous posts. Otherwise, normal service will be resumed tomorrow. See, it’s not always about you…
Looking over some old posts yesterday, I came across the phrase fée clochette (the sort of fairy who lives in bell-shaped flowers), which put me in mind of bluebells.
When I was very young, say three or four years old, I would often stay with my grandmother – Nan, as I always knew her – in Bushey, north of London. It was a fairly bog-standard dormitory town, but back then at least it was still rural enough to have some woods nearby. And thinking of bluebells I suddenly find myself transported back to a winding path through those woods with Nan, nearly forty years ago.
The bluebells grew on either side of the path, as far in every direction as I could see from my rug-rat elevation, an impressionistic smear of bright colour that seemed to hover above the ground like a lilac mist, brushing my hands and face as I ran through them, while the trees rustled overhead. We came back with an armful which we arranged in a vase - on the kitchen table or mantlepiece, I think. I don’t remember much about my visits or the house, but suddenly and for no particular reason I’m almost crippled by this one vivid recollection of being in the woods, chest high in bluebells, the sun streaming through the trees. If I closed my eyes now, could I return there, reach out a hand and find hers in answer?
I recall very little of my childhood, possibly due to the large percentage of it which I spent in wicker baskets. These memories are so rare, I suppose you have to seize them while you can. I doubt that I’ll ever get the chance to take my children to those woods (even assuming they still exist), nor can I introduce them to Nan. The best I can do is to press this image and this moment between electronic pages, and hope the colour doesn’t leach from them in the process.
Bluebells in the wood, yesterday. Meet you there, Nan.