Tuesday 23 February 2016

Would you like a cup of coffee or tea?

Good afternoon!

Please, come in: it is drizzling at best, raining at worst, and in between you may stand under an impromptu shower. This is a very unpleasant weather although it is mild enough for the season. But any good farmer would look quizzically at the sky, the trees, the grass growing, and ask "Which season?"

Do come in the sitting room and make yourself at ease. Give me your coat or your raincoat, and I will pour some coffee or tea - even Clipper mint tea... There is a whole array of teas from the UK, Russia and good French houses. 

It has been some time since I have not asked you to come. You may see by the untidiness of the room that we are up to something, and, yes, we are. We have planned a great overhaul of The House as soon as the sun will be here. Miss Read's readers will recognise the symptoms of spring cleaning! No Mrs Pringle but the Shopping-cum-Cleaning Lady who is training a very nice young woman. Over a cup of tea, after shopping, one Friday aternoon, we decided to unite forces and to go through the whole rooms, one after the other: five pairs of hands should be efficient. 

But we have to do something with the stacks of books that are littering every flat inch of table, armchair, sideboard, and even floor. We have cardboard boxes and sticking tape; I am trying to sort out rationally the books and magazines and pack them.

I would be glad to have most things tidy by April as we may have guests then. Best Friend from England told me yesterday over the phone that she thought about coming and visit us with her husband in April. Said husband was drinking tea with me at the same moment, smiling and nodding all the time. This is something to look forward to! Other Friends may be on their ways to visit their families and would stop en route.

Oops, here is the jug of hot water from the kitchen and some biscuits. Please, help yourself.

You may have seen that there are still crocuses, and that the winter jasmine is in full flower as well as briars. Have you noticed the clump of narcissi around the summer jasmine. Their buds are ready to explode in a flutter of white with an orange heart frilled with black. And were you to come on the North-Eastern side of the house, you would be able to watch the first primroses. Soon, there will be a whole carpet of them under the cherry trees. Readers of carissima Lucia, you will recognise Perdita's garden further West, close to the garden house. It is a remain of the efforts of a Grand-Mother who was an adept of E.F. Benson.

We had some sunshine days last week, mostly during the late afternoons. A kind Friend known online gave me some things to potter round, about English literature, and I have been reading about known authors, regional authors, and authors I did not know at all. That brought me back to Parson Woodforde and Francis Kilvert. (Decidedly, I am full of references for Miss Read's readers and Barbara Pym's). In fact, I dipped happily into Betjeman's poetry. This quiet, discreet, and reserved England, well-bred and uncomplaining, who does not exist that much any more nowadays.

I read one book about which I would like to talk with you: "English Passengers" by Matthew Kneale", and begun another: "The Master" by Com Toibin. Both are re-reads that I enjoy slowly and probably more than I did the first time I read them. More to come.

At first sight, this seems very conservative and very "gentle": it is less than it seems. Have you read these books? Did you like them?

What are you reading these days? Are you, like me, induced to be more outside, watching the flowers and listening to the birds, now that days are growing? 

However, I may be indiscreet and asking too much. Perhaps it is time for you to leave? The drizzle has ceased. The night is slowly falling. Grey swollen clouds take over the sky, but still the twitter of greenfinches sings in the fir tree near my window. Look up and you will see wild geese in formation looking like an arrow. There is a thrill of spring. If you are in the Northern hemisphere, do you feel it as well? And what does it look like in the Southern one?

Yes, sorry, so sorry: I am too talkative. I was glad to have you this afternoon. Please, do come back and let's chat again! Thank you for your being with me. You cannot begin to guess how much you are important for me!

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