Monday, June 18, 2007

suns, stories, drying

Hypericum with its bold yellow flowers and untidy habit can seem a little gross at times, but it can appeal, too, when you look closely at it. Today, coming up the hill, I see it as a bush covered in suns.

I have been thinking about stories that send you to sleep and stories that keep you awake. Sometimes the same stories can do both and sometimes the same story sends some people to sleep and keeps others awake. In Segei Aksakov's Years of Childhood, he tells of an attack of sleeplessness. "And this", he says " put my my mother off her sleep, as she slept best in the early part of the night. To send us to sleep, we took the advice of my aunt and summoned to our aid Pelageya, the housekeeper.... I need hardly say that I stayed awake until the story (it was called the Scarlet Flower) was ended, so that I slept even less than usual.... It sent my mother to sleep at once; but when she awoke some hours later and found that I had not been asleep, and was discussing the story with Pelegaya, she sent her off. And it was very long before fairy-tales were again used in the house to send people to sleep.

I myself usually have little difficulty in getting to sleep at night, but if I do, I tell myself a story or deliver myself an after dinner speech, which nearly always sends me off.

A wet night and a warm, damp morning, dripping and humid. But this afternoon: a bluff, drying wind, makes you feel like a sheet on a clothes-line.


apprentice said...

Would you make a tape of that speech for me? I too sleep badly, but the World service is a good wee small hours soulmate.

Clare said...

I go over walks I have done, recalling scenes and sensations along the way. I can go much faster -- almost flying -- in my imagination; but I'm normally asleep before I reach my destination.

Unknown said...

Apprentice, I think it would be unkind. It is the sort of speech, where people's heads fall forward on to the table knocking over the port, as they enter something close to a coma.
Clare, I used, for some years, to drive to Sutton every day, avoiding main roads and traffic lights, It was a complicated route, delightful in summer. I still go over the route in my mind when trying to get sleep, and I am usually asleep before the turn-off for Edenbridge.