1) The monarch butterfly caterpillar that we’d called Wilson has shifted leaves and finally settled on his pupating spot. Meanwhile, overnight Mainwaring has been transformed into a green chrysalis.
2) Yesterday, I took my CPAP machine to the Respiratory Unit for a check-up. The old tube needed replacing. What I didn’t realise is that the machine’s computer records my breathing patterns. There has been no apnoea for the last six months. What with that machine and the oxygen converter pumping away that particular problem’s been solved. (As long as the power stays on). But that doesn’t restore lost lung capacity.
3) This afternoon I’m having two loose teeth taken out – an event I’m not looking forward to.
4) April starts tomorrow. It’s a month much mentioned by poets - from Chaucer’s “sweet showers” to Eliot’s “the cruellest month’. Of course, in the Northern Hemisphere it’s capricious spring with the weather swinging from sunshine to cloud to rain.
5) This year on the anniversary of Patrick’s birthday I ordered a bunch of chrysanthemums. Bronze-red they have glowed for over a week in their vase in the living room – a reminder in several ways of the past.
6) In the old place April was always the month when I planted the spring bulbs in pots and Anne bought potted chrysanthemums for the house. When they had finished flowering, I used to dig a space somewhere and heel them in. Several flourished and we had annual autumn brilliance. Then one year they all developed the ugly lumps caused by midge fly larva.
7) Whether the problem came with the plant or arrived by other means, I don’t know. The lumps were ugly, but not threatening in themselves; yet by weakening the plant they left it vulnerable to viral diseases and powdery mildew. Over time, they all weakened and wilted.
8) Whatever it was that I had introduced in to the section it stayed. After a two year gap, I tried again but the plant soon showed the same symptoms. So we gave up growing chrysanthemums there, except for one hardy old-fashioned perennial that was there when we arrived. Each autumn, despite neglect and the over-shadowing of the camellia, it has its own showing of small tawny-yellow flowers. They bred them tough, those old plants. I suspect the force-feeding that goes on in some nurseries contributes to the vulnerability of many new breeds.
9) This year Anne has bought tulip bulbs Abba. They in the fridge at present to reproduce the cold of their original habitat. She'll put them in a pot over Easter. She’s decided not to plant hyacinth bulbs this year. Later on, she’ll buy plants already blooming in their pot. Instant colour.
10) Geological surveys reveal Gisborne has slipped slightly, ever so slighty, further west. Autumn comes and goes regularly but the unsteady earth mantle continues to surprise.
WORDS with Douglas McLennan
14 hours ago