Friday, April 16, 2010
forsythia, soldiers, climbers
Suddenly the forsythia outside the church at
Groombridge Place bursts into flower.
Sometimes you read words written a long time ago, which surprise you by their freshness and truth. Balzac's short novel Le Colonel Chabert tells the story of a soldier, left for dead on the battlefield. He survives, undergoes many hardship and after 10 years returns to Paris in poor health and in poverty to find that his wife has married again and has two children with her new husband. She has much to lose by recognising that her first husband is still alive, and he, much to gain by reestablishing his identity. He tells his story to a lawyer whom he hopes will take up his case. Half way through his account, "'Where was I,' said the colonel with all the simplicity of a child or of a soldier, for there is often something of the child in the true soldier; and almost always something of the soldier in the child...'" When I think of the soldiers I have known and read about in history and in the present day, and the child that I was, it strikes me that Balzac got it right, even though it is almost 200 years since he made the observation.
For some time there has been a red and a white, climbing rose on either side of the bay window that looks into our little garden. The red rose climbed up the wall and was quickly out of reach if you wanted to cut a flower or to dead head. The white rose, less exuberant in habit, kept to a rather dark corner between the window and the hedge. It is only recently that I have realized how easy it is to train climbing roses, and have come to see how foolish it is to ignore the benefits of training them. Today, with the help of a stake, some eyes screwed into the wall and some strong twine, I lead the red and the white rose under the window so that they meet in the middle of the bay. For sure, "Sumer is icumen in..."