I've seen the spikes, I've seen the buds pushing at the tips but now I can see the flowers! The crocuses are blooming and spring is officially here! My heart shot upwards in my chest when I saw the first one with its purple petals open to show its golden centre. There are others coming up; hopefully I'll see yellow ones soon. No daffodils yet.
I did some work today - not academic work but honest to good physical work, the sort people in the West do less and less often. And I volunteered to do it. On my bus route, there is a large roundabout which used to be covered with overgrown grass and lots of rubbish - bits of plastic and crisp packets. Now it's been cleaned and has about six flower beds. I helped plant trees, bushes and various grasses. I haven't handled a spade for ages and my arms were quite weak. It was a bit better after I got a smaller spade, though still a strain. I could feel the muscles in my back and arms working as they haven't worked for ages. The wind was cold but we were all grateful for that because it meant we were nicely warm and not boiling. Occasionally the sun broke through the thick white clouds, almost as if winking and nodding at us. Patches of blue sky appeared as the afternoon went on. All the snow from yesterday had melted because of the exposure although there were still some patches in hidden places. Everybody was very nice and there were lots of photos afterwards.
It felt good to do something since I don't have any technical or economic translations to do. I have to "see them (the tutors)" about it. I hate that phrase. It sounds so ominous, though I'm too old to be told off now. They're probably both worried about me. Concerned that I'm not "living up to my potential". I've got a whole roster of reasons, plausible ones - I wonder if I really am anaemic. I don't think so. It was just the iron that was lacking in that blood test, not the haemoglobin, which is different. And I eat meat and fish and eggs (loads of eggs). The bigger problem is that most people in the class have drawn away from me. Not obviously but I can feel it. Living off campus isn't much of an excuse when I managed okay last semester. Must find out from Greg if the quizzes are still going on. Nothing wrong with taking a break on Thursday night and I did promise him a quiz section. I could do one on mythology/folklore, easily. Might e-mail him over the weekend.
Tomorrow I'll go into town and hand in my C.V. to the juice place and try to find my swimming costume. I hate it when things go missing "between" places - you're never really sure where you ought to be looking. Damn, I wish Culpeper's would just phone and tell me whether I've got the job or not. It's over a week since I had the interview. I suppose they'll make me wait two. If I haven't, well, too bad, but at least I can go about applying with a clear conscience and let Arabella and Sophia know if I can meet them or not.
Despite my academic failings, my creativity continues to flourish. I might even think about writing some more of Watching for Wolves. Maybe I should join a HP drabble community. sm_monthly certainly keeps my BSSM muse busy.
Speaking of which...
Title: Long, Uncut Hair
Author: sea_thoughts aka Starsea
Theme: sm_monthly Graveyard
Version: Manga (set in the "Exiles" timeline when Mamoru is at Harvard)
The stones were grey, weatherbeaten, eroded by time. Autumn leaves were scattered among them, the last tribute before winter sapped colour and life from everything and the only colours left were black and white. There was nothing mournful, though. There was peace here. Perhaps because this plot was no longer used; the new graveyard was on the other side of the hedge, the air raw with grief and anger and longing. But not here. This place was different.
Then he heard it. A piercing metallic whine. Irritated at this invasion and curious, Mamoru walked around the corner and discovered a tall man trimming the grass around the gravestones, thick hair windblown and almost the same colour as the fallen leaves.
"Ken?" he said, disbelieving. Then, louder, "KEN!"
Ken stopped, blinked and turned around. He grinned and switched off the trimmer. "Yo, roomie," he said in English, taking off one of his thick gloves and pushing back the lock of hair that was always falling onto his forehead. His cheeks were flushed and his eyes were bright but then Ken always looked happy out of doors.
"What are you doing?" Mamoru said, blinking. "I didn't think you had a job. That would require work."
Ken laughed. "I have nothing against earning a few bucks, Mamoru. Physical work doesn't bother me. But forcing me to learn something that has no interest for me? That, I resent. And to answer your question," he patted the top of the gravestone nearest to him, "I am trimming the long, uncut hair."
"The what?" Mamoru said, wondering if Ken had been drinking. It took a lot to get Ken drunk but you could never tell. Ken was angry enough about being at Harvard and in the right mood he'd do anything to get in trouble.
"Walt Whitman. You never studied him?"
Mamoru shook his head.
"Count yourself lucky," Ken said, smiling. "If you ever want to read stream-of-consciousness poetry, then I recommend him. If not, stay away. I did him for my high school English oral exam. They gave me full marks, of course - mainly because they had no idea what I was talking about. Few people do when it comes to Whitman."
"He calls grass 'the long, uncut hair of graves'?" Mamoru said, a little disturbed.
"Well, it can get like hair," Ken said, eyeing the ground critically. "Especially if nobody's being paying attention to it. Thick and matted and full of insects... I agree it's a morbid image, but that's Walt for you. He's not what you would call cheerful." He slipped the glove back on. "What are you doing here?"
"Looking for a bit of peace and quiet," Mamoru answered.
"You must be pretty desperate if you're looking in a graveyard," Ken commented with another laugh. "I just have a few more to do and then I'll be finished. Want some coffee afterwards? Before you settle down to your homework and I settle down to doing nothing."
Mamoru nodded. "Sure. I'll wait for you by the gate." He turned and walked around to the other side of the church, where the machine's noise faded to a whine again.
He didn't know where his parents were buried - but that wasn't so bad. In a sense, they could be anywhere. Every time he stepped into a graveyard, he was close to them. He reached up a hand and touched the stones he wore around his neck. And close to others as well.