The limestone shines beneath our feet with a centuries’ worn gleam that sets my skin tingling – thinking of all those who trod the same path centuries before . The history articles claim the origins of Kassiopi Castle date back to the 6th century – what would the Byzantines make of the trail of sweaty, underdressed foreigners who traipse along its ruins in the 21st century? We stop dutifully at each viewing point, aiming our phone cameras where hundreds of years ago artillery would be covering the steep climb up from the navy Ionian sea. The Venetians ordered the castle’s destruction to prevent enemy use, but local stories record that a fire breathing dragon destroyed it and poisoned all who lived nearby. What a tale to tell the children – behave, or the dragon will come for you!
Azure and navy History tumbles between Scorched by myth and man.
We sneaked out early from the house, like robbers hauling their suitcase of stash. Stash of summer clothes, suncream and flip flops. The drive to the airport at this time of night is always surreal. The memory rekindled of other drives when we have been sleep deprived, yet excited. Darkness is woken only by our headlights until we get closer to the airport and join a steady flow of traffic. The drive after leaving Corfu airport is spectacular. The bluest of blue water, sheer drops of cliff, spikes of cypress amongst the olives, walls of bougainville, tiled roofs, heart-swallowing bends and climbs. Such a contrast to the safe, pretty fields of Sussex we had soared above a few hours earlier.
Summer's passenger Migration after Covid Island to island.
Through the diamond leading on my windows, past the bare hazel hedge, the mossy roof of my neighbour’s house, the thick gathering arms of a dormant oak, I see a steep ridge of green. In today’s uncertain spring light it is a mucky shade, like the colour on a child’s palette when black, and blue and yellow have slopped together. I have walked up onto that ridge, have felt my heart pound disconcertingly hard, my leg muscles complain, my body sweat. And when I reached the top, I was rewarded with the most wonderful view. All the way back to where I sit now, looking up.Soon the ridge will be hidden from my window view by new growth and colours. But I know it will be waiting to show itself again, once the seasons are spent.
Hills hold memories Life sleeps and wakes in their arms Spring brushes softly.
The sky is a flawless stretch of achromatic grey. It’s as if it doesn’t want to be noticed. Just go back to bed and don’t bother me. The January winds have got bored and gone in search of other targets. The air is still and the bare elder arches its brittle branches feebly, waiting for another tickle. The only movement is a wood pigeon, which has taken up residence in an old nest within the tree. It looks precarious. Its cinerous body and pink-tinted chest inflated against the cold. Now it scrabbles onto an impossibly thin twig and seemingly floats on nothing, until it nods its head and swoops down, out of sight.
We are all waiting. Preserving life out of sight. Coffined in winter.
Unlike last year, there have been few evenings we have felt a desire to sit outside. Tonight I sit huddled under a fleecy blanket as the ‘On’ button for the central heating taunts me. Summer heat has been a reluctant visitor to Sussex. That languid July evening we relished a few weeks ago, now begins to dim into memory so I try to resuscitate it. I remember a black speck had issued a plaintive ‘kaak’ in the sky, skimming clouds which hung hot and sultry, the wheeling dot developing into a drumbeat of flapping rooks, pulling in crowds from their burring rookery. We had watched in awe at the freckled waves which had pulsated across the dusk. But not tonight. No synchronised troupes performing their cartwheels, dives and rolls. Tonight August has refused to play the game and sulks under grey covers, blowing its cheeks out in huffs of disappointment.
Petulant August Throw off these dull winter clothes My skin aches for sun.
I look out of my daughter’s bedroom window – a habit I have acquired before I go to bed. The room is unoccupied for most of the time – drying laundry and empty boxes reside there these days. A large moon hangs in the cloud-breaking sky, directly opposite our house – glowing its other worldly white light through an oak tree. I quickly grab my phone and rush down the stairs, slip on some shoes and creep out of the house into our front garden. I feel strangely furtive snapping the sky in the dark. Gutters drip from the recent downpours. Only a few hours ago an arching rainbow glowed its magic in the same portion of sky where the moon is now centre stage. Clouds muffle the edges of the moon and a faint orange-hued corona surrounds it. All I had to do was look out of the window. My daughter would have enjoyed it.
Prisms in the day White light in the dripping dark Hold me in their sway
It’s one of those bright, clear, promising mornings. Two sparrows dart away as I approach the desk – they have been pecking incessantly at the glass on the front of the house and cars in the drive, and I look at the messy splatter of white streaks they have left behind them. At this moment, though, the only sounds are the thrum of cars at the end of the road – where ours meets a busier road joining our village with the town – and a gentle background of birdsong. The acer is still, its fragile hands of small lime green leaves have no wind to shake them. The corrugated oak stands tall and firm, and is now lightly dressed with the beginnings of new leaves. There are no people to be seen and were it not for the cars I could pretend I was the only one. I am aware of my heartbeat. I realise what a peaceful experience this is – one of those moments to pack away carefully and unwrap when life is too busy or difficult.
Looking and listening In the calm of the morning. A moment to keep.
Frank J Tassone on dVerse Poets is today’s (well, actually its yesterday’s) host and has set the task of writing a haibun, the hybrid form that combines prose and haiku. We are exploring the present moment. This was a lovely exercise – to just sit and absorb what is around you for a brief time is both centring and calming.