Monday, 11 June 2012

The other side

It's a year now since we moved to Telston Lane; a year of adjustments and settling, a year of swapping old routines for new rituals, familiar scenery for new sights.

When we lived in Crown Road I could spend hours looking out of the front window at the comings and goings of the street; at neighbours and strangers strolling past, at cars reversing ever-so-carefully down its tight confines. Here in Otford, it's the view from the back of the house that draws me to stand gazing out of the kitchen window into our long, long garden.

We haven't changed much about the garden in the last year - we haven't really needed to; each season has bought a new colour, a new focus, and a new reason to thank our predecessors. The abundant white rose that lit up our first few weeks was followed, as summer drew on, by the lavender that grows so well in this valley, by the honeysuckle trailing over our ramshackle fences and the tall white daisies waving from every corner.

The first winds of autumn brought down the leaves from our neighbours' trees. I'd dreaded the task of clearing them, but the gentle rhythm of sweeping soon became a calming replacement for summer's weekly walk with the lawn mower.

We found just how damp and squelchy the ground could be after heavy rain, then just how pretty it could look after the snow of our very first winter. Spring came and went, with the delight of unexpected daffodils pushing through the cold hard earth, and then the rose bush filled with buds again to herald the start of our second year here.

When we lived in Shoreham, there was a small square table in front of the window. It was there that I'd chat to Philip as we ate our dinner or shared a lazy weekend breakfast, and it was there that I started writing this blog, sitting opposite Philip, with the top edges of our laptops just touching. I spent hours at that table - writing, dreaming, reading of lives all around the world. Every now and then, I'd glance up to my right to look out on the street and all its life.

The table is still with us; it sits in the kitchen now, against the wall. When we first moved here, we adopted our positions each side of it, and for a while, like any comfortable habit, it felt ok. But then I realised that when I glanced up to my right, it wasn't the world I could see, just a kitchen wall. When I looked ahead, it wasn't into the room, but just to the wall at the end. Gradually it seemed as though my world was closing in rather than moving on and opening up.

It's a big thing, the way we arrange ourselves. When Philip and I walk together I am always to his right; when we sleep together he is always to mine. We've never debated it, that's just how it is, and any other arrangement simply wouldn't be right, so it was with some trepidation that I suggested we might try sitting the other way round.

And tonight I'm sitting at the other side of the table. Ahead of me, when I look up, I see Philip pottering about in the kitchen. I love to watch him cook, it's the time when I see all the patience, love and care that are an inherent part of who he is, no matter how cleverly he disguises it. And when I glance up to my right, I  can see through the clear glass of the kitchen door, straight into the garden, where the rose is about to bloom.

We're settling into Otford now, shedding old habits and learning new routines. When we came here, it felt such a big move, but I've come to understand that it really isn't the other side of the world.

I never would have guessed though that what could really make me feel at home was just the other side of the table.


 


20 comments:

Shea Goff said...

Lovely.

Eryl said...

Blimey, that is a long garden, how wonderful.

Odd, isn't it, how one's position in a room can make such a huge difference? Today, after three and a half months in this house, I shifted some furniture around and created a little nook in which to put my desk out of the way of the rest of the room, and feel so much more comfortable.

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

That was a lovely post. No matter how big the changes we make seem, we are still just us. I'm glad you found the "right side of the table".

mignon said...

ah yes, YES, sharon— "it's a big thing, the way we arrange ourselves..." our comfortable "arrangements" highlight how difficult it can be to change, but sometimes we need to and it does turn out better.

i now hardly use the room that is technically my study/office. just like you, it all came down to the view. it was okay, but the one beside the dining area is much better (also looking toward the garden—yours is lovely, by the way) so i have my mess of books and papers and my computer at one end of a long table. it's a pain to clean up my debris when we need the whole table for company, or when our large family visits and they feel the need to eat, but, oh well, it's worth it.

raymond alexander kukkee said...

Wonderful post and beautiful sentiments, Sharon. Interestingly, where we seat ourselves does make a huge difference in how we see not only ourselves, but even how we perceive life itself. ~R

"As We Speak" said...

I always look forward to your posts. This one in particular, was so interesting. I'm all about positioning. The Chinese call it Feng Shui.I not only find the view from windows very important. I go as far, as wanting to face East and west ...yeah that!

Bill Dameron said...

I have my side of the bed, my seat in the car, my place at the table. Even my seat on the sofa. But it took me a long, long time to get here with Paul, and I love the view.

Hillary said...

A seat with a view is important. I hate staring at walls, like a shutter on the mind.

What wonderful, simple things you tell your readers. It makes me feel as if we're having a conversation (and I don't have to say a thing) on a pleasant stroll through your lovely garden. Therefore, I feel priveleged just to read your words because of that cozy feeling they inspire; thank you.

Bobby Stevenson said...

I can't believe it's a year already, Sharon. How fast it's all gone. That garden looks magnificent and as always , you've sat me down on top of your beautifully written words and carried me a long. Reading your work, Sharon is like being carried along on a cloud.

Mrs Smith said...

Ooh! Spooky! Me and my Philip arrange ourselves in exactly thd same way. Me at his right when working, him at mine in bed.
Glad you are seeing life from the other side of the table.

Starlight said...

Thank you for sharing this lovely story and for letting us peek into your live, I liked what I saw. All three - the story, your kitchen and garden are beautiful.
It seems that all couples adopt habits without discussing it; I'm also always to Mr Starlight's right when we walk. :)

Pat said...

Heaven forfend that you should ever move to Australia;)

Young at Heart said...

how wonderful...how lucky....

Cle Reveries said...

Thank you for sharing your feelings and your lovely life with us. You do that into the best way I have ever seen!
You are a special one, indeed!

Happy Frog and I said...

This was a beautiful snapshot of the life you and Philip share. I know that, like you, I still feel incredibly lucky to have found the home 3 years ago that I share with my other half.

ND Mitchell said...

Your descriptions of the changing seasons in your garden were a perfect platform from which to launch this lovely insight. Thanks for sharing.

ND Mitchell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carole said...

I really enjoyed that, I'm glad you've settled :)
Carole x

Mary-Colleen said...

Thank you for this lovely respite from the day. So much here to think about.

Suman said...

With the week-old move into our new place, I have only just begun going through a clutter of emotions and adjustments like these. I have been trying to write something on these lines, but every time my words would grow just louder and angrier. But you say it all so beautifully and with such heart-tugging poignancy. May be I could take a leaf or two from your post and begin afresh. Thank you for unclogging that mess in me!