Sunday, August 06, 2006
Sunday Scribblings - Who else might I have been?
I see a solitary cottage surrounded by hedges, a gap in the hedge is filled by an old wooden plank gate, overhead is an arch from which rambling roses tremble. Beyond the gate is a small winding path of sandstone with moss growing between the cracks, to etiher side of which are a profusion of plants, some with flowers in bud, some in full bloom and some in their blowsy later stages. Hollyhocks and spires of delphiniums thrust upwards through the perfumed mass. The path arrives at an old wooden door with a heavy iron knocker, there is a many paned window to each side of the door and a small latticed window above peeping through the edge of the thatched roof. Scarlet geraniums in clay pots surround the door and a pair of bright green eyes watch from under a bush.
There is a woman, not young yet not old, a timeless face, she wears a long striped blue skirt covered with a snowy white apron trimmed with lace that matches the fischu around her shoulers, a battered straw hat on her head tied under the chin with a bright blue ribbon, her arms are full of herbs and grasses. She turns the corner of the cottage and pushes open the wooden door, inside is a spotlessly clean room with a vast inglenook fireplace, from an iron hook above hangs a large iron pot. There is a highly polished settle adjacent to the fireplace and a dark wooden dresser on the back wall filled with cups and plates and a pile of battered books. The sun streams through the window causing dust motes to dance in the air around the vase of wild flowers that is placed on the table there. There is a latched wooden door at the far side of the inglenook that would lead to the tiny room above. There is a movement alongside the table.
The woman turns left, and opens a door to the other downstairs room, the green eyes watch now from underneath the table. From the beams of this room hang many things, herbs and flowers, hanging upside down to dry, copper pots, an empty birdcage,a bunch of crow feathers and hooked along the beam is a besom. A large scrubbed table takes up most of the space in the room and the walls are lined with shelves full of bottles and jars, containing seeds, herbs and strange coloured liquids, jostling for position with piles of books. The woman lays her herbs and grasses down on the table, beside an open receipe book, scales and a pestle and mortar. A pair of green eyes now watches from the room door that is left ajar, a nose sniffs at the combination of fragrances that infuse the room.
Standing at the table the woman unties her hat and places it on the table, from the profusion of items on the table she extracts a white mob cap which she places on her head coiling her long plait inside it. Thoughtfully she turns the pages of the largest book, and looks at the old crabbed writing on the pages. She props the page she wants open with a stone jar, reads it her finger tapping against her teeth, then calmly begins to pull off the leaves of some of the herbs she came in with and drops them in the pestle and mortar. The pair of green eyes open wider with excitement and with one leap the cat lands on table opposite the woman, rubs against her arm and settles down to watch. Who else might I have been? Am I the cat or the village wise woman?