Sally Worm MkII

Somebody said to me this week, ‘you’re too quiet’.

I haven’t known what to say.

Afraid that if I do, start saying, I might revert to default: tediously Minding Gaps.

Somebody else said to me this week, ‘oh for God’s Sake, let go woman!’

But I have. Let go.

That’s the easier, not to say easy, and inevitable bit.

It’s the ratting-around-void that’s hard.

For so long children have dictated and directed my day that in their absence it is difficult not to flail, not to wonder what to do next.

So I find shape to long hours in the tiniest things. I rescue a startling turquoise – and startled – kingfisher from the pool which he mistook for a tropical swamp such is its pea-greeness. He was cold and shivered and gasped so that I worried he might die. I fished him out and lay him in the sun to warm and locked that cats up so that he was safe from lurking predators.

And an hour later he was gone. Flown. I rejoiced.

Yesterday I watched him swoop into the same swampy depths. He was more careful this time.

I found a hedgehog one morning, valiantly swimming in circles, tiny feet paddling to keep him afloat. I fished him out too, and he curled instantly into a tight ball until he thought I wasn’t looking and then he scuttled – Mrs Tiggywinkle like – beneath sunbaked stones to slumber.

And then blessedly the rain came down and washed the spiders out of the flamboyant (and into the peagreen pool so that I fished them out as well, but too late for they were stiff and upside down) and rinsed the world clean so that the flamboyant blossom was ruby red again and bled damply onto the lawn, so that the leaves were glossy green.

And everything was brighter.

Retired and Crazy wants to know what a Sallyworm is.  I built my first with an old friend when I was younger than my youngest is now – and boarding school incarcerated.  Sally is maniupulated to give context to time, let you think you can manage it, which is very important when it stretches overwhelmingly and loosely in front of you.  Sally’s made of segments, each accounts for a single day. You can cruelly rip her segments off at bedtime or – more gently – strike a line through the relevant day’s circle. I have not constructed one for some time; the last I counted days down on was the one Hat drew for me, in my 09 diary, when she went away to England 3 weeks ahead of me.

I think I might make one now. Give some structure to my day.

Some definition to my weeks.

13 Responses to “Sally Worm MkII”

  1. Robyn Says:

    What a beautiful tree and a gorgeous photograph. Sallyworms are a great idea!

  2. carol Says:

    My kids do Sally Worms now too – as taught by your girls when you baby-sat them for two weeks. They might want to do one to count the days til Granny comes… or they could if I could remember when she arrives!

  3. TheMadHouse Says:

    I love this idea and will be introducing it to my boys

  4. R. Sherman Says:

    I follow along with you as you adjust to the empty nest, knowing I’ve got to face that down the road. Thankfully, I’ve got a few more years to prepare.

    BTW, the fire red on the trees is absolutely breathtaking. It reminds me of a local spring flower, the lobelia cardinalis, or “Cardinal Flower” which is said to have brightest red in nature. I think your trees give them a run for their money.


  5. Addy Says:

    I think it’s a fabuous idea. You should market it!

  6. DeeZee Says:

    Jambo memsahib — glad to find you posting again, I was worried that you might have jumped out of the basement window after Hat went onto boarding school in England.
    I’m a refugee from Tanganyika’s Gulag Archipelago of European Child Indoctrination Camps at Mbeya, Kongwa and Iringa. The price for this boarding school education was paid – in part – by diminished family bonding. Anthea, your Sally Worm idea will help to strengthen your bond with your daughter.
    Excellent photo of the red flowered tree at he pool – are they bougainvillea flowers ?
    Hakuna Matata — Doug

  7. MapesburyMum Says:

    Ah the Sally Worm – the joy of ripping off a segment and tearing it into tiny little pieces and watching it get shorter and shorter!
    I briefly met my sister for breakfast in Heathrow T5, she gave me another precious memory – my old school autograph book. It brought back such special memories….there’s an entry in there from you!

  8. Iota Says:

    This post made me think of you and chuckle a little. A different kind of Outpost!

  9. Mwa Says:

    What a gorgeous photo!

    I like the idea of the caterpillar. May use that myself sometime.
    I hope yours works for you.

  10. MzunguMarefu Says:

    I have been a silent follower of your blog for a few years. It kept me company while I was in an outpost of my own: i think if you could leap, frog like, over Uganda you would more or less have landed on me. I left my outpost a few months ago and was planning to write a message then saying thank you for keeping me company, but now I find myself incubating in London and returning to your blog more and more often to be reminded of Africa, which you bring so vividly to life. It may take a while to find your writing path without reverting to the gap, but there are many other things about which you write brilliantly, and I love to read them all. Thank you.

  11. connie Says:

    The transition is taking place in a beautiful way dear girl. Time to see the kingfisher. Time to enjoy the rain and watch the blossom shine. Time to savour the moment. Enjoy this time. My children have flown the nest too and now they are in the midst of having their own children and I am fitting my ‘times’ in-between catching up with them all – not three children, but six plus the seven grandchildren; eldest seven and the youngest seven months. It’s not all behind you…

  12. connie Says:

    Me again. The photo’s gorgeous.

  13. guineapigmum Says:

    I love the photo

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