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After all the sorting and packing and agonising and waiting and hassling and wondering if … today we flew to New York! It hasn’t felt real for weeks - it really has felt like a projected fantasy with almost no concrete signs to confirm it actually happening - but when I saw the planes standing on the runways at the airport and handed over my suitcases I began to believe it!

I chose to watch a film called The Secret Scripture. This tells the story of an Irish woman who spent most of her adult life incarcerated in a psychiatric unit, enforced by the twisted and bigoted conspiring of various local Powers That Be, grieving the loss of her husband, her baby son and her freedom. She has recorded the most poignant elements of her story on the pages of her bible, her only lasting possession, with words, paintings, and reminiscent scraps of this and that, and in her old age she often sits clasping the book as if she needs its contents for her sense of self. Her memories have been disturbed by the treatments she has been forced to accept, but one thing she has held on to with all her strength: My baby was born after the late daffodils when the apple blossoms were in bloom.

The story ends with a happy homecoming, of course.

We had an amazing holiday in Japan in the summer, and although it was much later in the season than the traditional blossom festivals in Kyoto, the famous city of Geishas, I did come across some trees dancingly flushed with bright pink or white flowers. I always find the vibrancy of spring and summer exhilerating, but this autumn my eyes have been drawn again and again to the stark forms of bare-branched trees. (Remember Percy the Parkkeeper’s little friend the squirrel? “I don’t know if I like spring or autumn the best” - that’s me, every year!). I love the individuality of tree shapes, whether dark and stiff or wispy and bending in the breeze, whether tidily symmetrical or imprecisely free-form. There is something different about stark beauty that needs to be paid more attention, but I like the way it makes me wonder at what I see. At home I have some favourite trees that I enjoy whenever I pass them, be-leaved or de-leaved, and I warm to them as if they are somehow personal to me, like familiar friends. (Is that peculiar?) I look forward to finding some New York tree specials. (Okay, okay, I’ll include a poem I wrote a few years ago about an autumn tree. See the next post.)

As it happens, we celebrated our arrival here this evening with a beer and a ramen soup in a Japanese restaurant round the corner.

Our flat for a month is in Upper East Side, a short distance from Central Park. Today’s temperature is a surprising 16C, which doesn’t bode well for the fulfillment of the dream of a white Christmas ice skating in the park, but you never know. If I have learned one thing in these weeks of not being able to predict what life will bring (and when it might bring it), it is that enjoying what is is much better than yearning for what is not, because surprising and lovely things happen just like that.

We have enough room in this furnished flat for our three adult children to join us here for Christmas. In only a fortnight they will all be with us! But one of the first tasks for our first day, tomorrow, will be to start the search for an unfurnished 2 bedroom apartment much closer to Luca’s office, which we will move to in January. We have not brought any furniture with us so we will then spend a bit of time finding cheap and cheerful things things to live with for our time here.

And now it is time to crash out after a long long day.


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