Reverse parking into a space two fingers bigger than my car while other drivers sounded their horns impatiently made me feel at home. The acrid smell of the previous night's drinkers' bladder contents drying under a graffitied bridge, ditto. Truth is, beyond admiring its general prettiness, and air untainted by fuming taxis, I couldn't see the point of the countryside. And, anyway, I love the smell of diesel. But then I was paid a visit here in my virtual kitchen by the Weaver of Grass. And, as I was politely brought up, I paid her a visit back, and found myself in deepest Yorkshire.
Weaver is a woman who knows the country intimately, and understands all its layers. She loves it for what it is, and she has shown me, if not quite how to love it, how to appreciate it. How to look at it, listen to it, smell it: see it and feel it in other words. If you haven't done so read this post, in a few short paragraphs it evokes the drama of rural life. Wild, vivid, visceral, it's every bit as grimy and harsh as my beloved run-down city peripheries.
So, anyway, the point of all this is to explain why I'm posting the two following shots. Weaver asked to see more of the paintings (comments, 2 posts back) and this is my way of saying thank you to her.
When my mother-in-law died I was asked to choose anything I'd like from her house, and one of the things I chose was this painting. It had been at the top of the stairs in that house for years and it was always the first thing I noticed when the front door was opened on visits. So I began to associate it with my in-laws' cheery welcomes: the end of long, droning car trips and the start of idle summer breaks. Stuck in traffic on the M6, sweating in my un-airconditioned banger, or inching along the M1 it would seep into my mind like sea air. In fact, we only had to arrange a visit and I would see the painting grinning down at me from its spot on the landing wall. So when it had to vacate that spot I knew I had to take it in. Now it's in my work-room and whenever I glance up at it I am reminded of rolling up tired and hungry, knocking on a glossy green door, and seeing my in-laws beaming with joy at the sight of their grandson (and his parents!) on their doorstep.
I have a pile of exam papers to mark, so I'll be on the quiet side for a few days, but I will be back. This isn't going to be one of those extended breaks I'm prone to.
PS please excuse the fuzziness of both these photographs, it's been so dark today that I just couldn't fully focus.
Update: it's brighter today, so I retook the shots and have had slightly better results, the colours are truer, so I've now replaced the fuzzy ones with brighter ones.