Two Dawns

In the early morning chill I girded my loins with a thick cotton dressing gown and stepped into the garden to photograph the pink-streaked dawn.

Keen arboriculturists may be interested in the sylvan skeletons of copper beech, larch, weeping birch, and lopped bay tree.

Our great-niece, Ella, was two years old in January. She and her parents have been unable to visit since before Christmas. We haven’t heard her form clear sentences. Danni texted me this morning to say that her daughter has been shouting out of the window: “Where has Uncle Derrick gone?”

My late son, Michael, was not much older when I had to try to answer his question: “Why did my Mummy die?”. So my feelings prompted by the very welcome text were somewhat ambivalent. It was very pleasing to know that Ella, who will be able to visit at the end of the month, could remember and missed us, yet that memory of Michael, who would never see Vivien again, has always been most poignant.

For much of the day Jackie occupied herself trimming dead material from plants with which she filled a succession of trugs. I operated a relay service transporting the contents to the compost bins and returning the containers to the Head Gardener for refills.

Of course I did not undertake my Under Gardener duties without carrying my camera. Featured here are euphorbia, mahonia, leucojum Spring Snowflakes, primulas, pulmonaria, tulips, daffodils, camellias, hellebores, hyacinths, cyclamen, and viburnum bodnantensis Dawn. The first camellia shrub shows blooms browned by an earlier frost.

I was calm and contented when I produced the Dawn skies gallery. That was before WordPress had chosen to apply another simplifying process to operate from the sidebar. Until I got my head around this system to construct the plants gallery culminating in another Dawn, it was only reasonable to inform Jackie that it wasn’t her I was shouting at.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s flavoursome savoury rice served with plentiful green salad and three prawn preparations, namely tempura, hot and spicy, and salt and pepper. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden while I drank Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2020.


    1. Thanks very much, John. I’ve just twigged I can follow you. Sorry it’s taken so long. I have had trouble leaving a comment on your latest – just wanted to say I hope your day on the couch was helpful.

      1. Thank you for your follow, Derrick, I just found you in my Admin pages. Hmmm, not sure why you are having difficulty commenting, nobody else has mentioned this. I always enjoy reading your posts, your wife’s meals sound so delicious, your flower and animal photos are so nice too. I follow several bloggers in the UK, I hope to visit someday. ??

  1. Well done for catching the dawn and what a pleasure it is to see so many flowers. I admit to have given up and remain using the Classic version of WordPress.

  2. Beautiful dawn. Pretty blooms. Horrid wordpress. πŸ™‚
    I’ll be posting anew later today so thanks for the warning.
    Coonawarra South Australia: another fine Aussie wine. πŸ™‚ Some can be really expensive but I haven’t found one I don’t like. Enjoy it!

  3. Aw, on sweet Ella and her shouting for you! I hope she will get to find you soon and spend time with you and Jackie! πŸ™‚
    Aw, on little Michael and your memories of that devastating time. πŸ™ It is heartbreaking when a child loses a parent at any age…but when they are so young they can’t understand the explanation it makes it even more heartbreaking. πŸ™
    You are a great helper to the Head Gardener! Good work both of you! πŸ™‚
    Ooh! I love spotting the owls in the garden! πŸ™‚
    Both of your Dawns are wonderful…those gorgeous early-morn skies and the sweet-smelling flower! πŸ™‚
    (((HUGS))) πŸ™‚
    PS… “We went down into the silent garden. Dawn is the time when nothing breathes, the hour of silence. Everything is transfixed, only the light moves.” – Leonora Carrington

  4. Beautiful flowers. How early they seem to be to this Mainers. Sweet story about Ella but sad and poignant, too, for the memories it brought back. How we mourn the passing of those we love!

  5. Oh…I’m so happy you’ll be able to see little Ella at the end of the month. It’s obvious she misses you very much. Thanks for sharing that with us, Derrick. The flowers look extra beautiful on this gloomy weather day. We have severe storms in the forecast for tomorrow.

  6. Beautiful, varied forms your collection of trees create against the magnificent sky.
    Jackie is orchestrating such a lovely rainbow of colors in your spring garden – overlooked by your wise owls.
    She is lucky to have such a willing under-gardener.
    – I have to rely solely on my trusty pink wheelbarrow for my ‘self hosted’ relay service.
    What is it about today – I had wordpress trouble too… I’m glad you resolved your sidebar issue!
    Let’s all hope tomorrow is another day, and that all will be well.

    1. Thank you very much, Emma. It is always scary when WP “simplify” processes. For the two years of knee surgery the under-gardener hadn’t been much use πŸ™‚

      1. – Absolutely Derrick; in line with Sainsburys ‘improving’ the layout of the store, and moving everything around…
        I’m guessing that the knee surgery was a result of years of road running? Glad Jackie’s under gardener is now back on duty!

        1. Running probably: 25,000 miles from age 40 – second row forward (line out jumper) and fast bowling – both until aged 45 may also have contributed πŸ™‚ Thanks very much Emma

  7. You share such a personal, poignant moment with us, Derrick. I can understand why you were torn between amusement and sorrowful remembrance.
    The sunrise is beautiful, as is your garden. It is gloomy grey here today. Dinner sounds delicious. ?

  8. There will always be those cherished memories Derrick…..I remember Carole and I would sometimes travel over to Penola (in South Australia) and visit the Coonawarra Winery Estate, to purchase our favourite red wine, “Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon” … haha, we would come home with a boot load

  9. The garden is looking lovely, I’ll be glad when the frost has gone and we can commence planting and get some colour.

    I’ve lost track of the dates that we can we can have visitors again. I had short doorstep visits on Mother’s day. They still wore masks, but I took the view it was unnecessary seeing as I had double the required antibodies from both Covid and the vaccination. So hopefully, I’ll neither infect nor be infected, but we played safe anyway.

      1. Oh, thank you very much, Derrick – just in time for Easter. We could be doing the Easter egg hunt after all.

  10. Just like every year, I am a bit stunned about the outburst of ‘spring’ in the US, while we here finally have the first decent days without a freeze in the night. I haven’t spotted a bit of green in the soil, but on the trees and bushes.

  11. Gosh it will be so lovely when the lockdown is relaxed, hopefully soon. And we will all be able to see our grandchildren again. Fantastic flower and sky, tree silhouettes photos! Much enjoyed.

  12. Dearest Derrick,
    The Ella / Michael paragraphs are a gut punch. You are so calm and kind and peaceful, that I often forget your difficult past. Hugs to you my friend. Hoping you and Ella will soon be together.

    1. Thanks very much, Sherry. Michael was pre-verbal when his mother died. I made up a story about someone’s Mummy dying, and told him it at bedtimes. When he asked the question I knew he had at least understood the fact; the why was not so simple. Your understanding is appreciated.

  13. I got a chuckle from your opening line about girding your loins with a thick cotton dressing gown and enjoyed the dawn silhouettes, especially the weeping birch. I’m sorry about the opening of sad memories. They will always be with us, at some level, along with the happy ones. Ella’s question is so sweet, and I’m glad she will see he Uncle Derrick soon and make more happy memories.

  14. Thank you for capturing those dawn scenes for us. They’re beautiful. I never tire of watching the dawn. Has it really been that long since Ella visited? I can understand how Danni’s text would prompt mixed emotions.

    1. Thanks very much, Liz. We went into our third lockdown before Christmas. Today I am waiting for the man to pump out the septic tank. It is the same time as I was able to make those dawn pictures yesterday. The sky is grey πŸ™‚

  15. The pink cloud dawn skies are lovely! Jackie’s work in the garden is a great thing of beauty, too.

    I can understand the ambivalence in how you felt about Ella’s question, remembering Michael’s question. His cedar tree is doing well and growing. I have taken the winter deer net off.

  16. I often hesitate to go outside before I get dressed. I’m glad you went out in your dressing gown. The sometimes bright, sometimes subtle pink in the pale blue sky is beautiful.

    One of our grandsons, Peter, never saw my husband before he died. I was touched when he said he had been inspired by my husband’s accomplishment to achieve his black belt. Peter was successful a couple of months ago.

  17. It was a beautiful and touching chapter in the chronicle. Memories are like time warps that exist and don’t, melding present and past in a bitter-sweet journey.

  18. That’s a very poignant question from your son, Michael. How long have we been looking for the answer? Ten thousand years, or more, and we’re no closer now than we ever were.

    1. Thanks a lot, John. I remember the bedtime story I made up for him about a little boy’s Mummy dying before he could speak. I don’t remember how I answered the question it promoted when he could ask it.

  19. this pandemic has been unkind, I have hardly met or seen my youngest granddaughter who is one and a half years old. At least Spring seems to have arrived.

  20. It’s been a hard time on both ends: children separated from grandparents and other relatives, and the aged separated from those whose support they so need. Here’s hoping that reunions can come sooner rather than later. The pinks and blues of your sky remind me of the phenomenon known as the Belt of Venus; the sunrise and sunset phenomenon that’s the most beautiful shadow in the world.

  21. What a beautiful dawn sky! The gallery of flowers and flowering shrubs is gorgeous. I am sorry you were frustrated by WordPress’s new ‘simpler’ tool. I am too cowardly to try the new system though I know I will have to use it eventually. Children’s innocent questions can be heart-breaking. I had to explain the early death of my ex-father-in-law to my daughter who wondered where he was.

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