By eleven the moon was sufficiently high for its cool beams to wash through my circular skylight and to transit across the bed. As the night progressed I was bathed in, and scanned by, its glow as I slept.
As the days have got shorter, I have been sleeping a lot longer. The lack of light entails cooking in the embers of the day at around 3.45, being in bed by 4.30 and then sleeping until dawn. I normally have about six hours sleep and I have been averaging thirteen hours for the last two weeks each night in the Egg. I feel finely tuned in to the circadian rhythms of moon and its tides, the shortening day and to the wider weekly, seasonal and annual rhythms of this particular place.
The dignity of the Beadle’s outward aspect was maintained on Monday when Daniel came from Lymington to cut my hair. He is now hairdresser to the Egg and I hope he will be able to return in the Winter. Some of the saved grey clippings will provide samples needed to mix with a blackberry and Lye mixture which in the Seventeenth Century was identified as the essential element of a permanent black hair dye. I shall experiment…
Seamus Heaney’s poem called Blackberry Picking was sent to me just a couple of days ago in response to my ongoing fascination with this bountiful plant, but without mention of his death at the end of August (news of which just penetrated my thin cedar walls). I walked out tonight as the sun set along my abundant avenue of fruit laden bushes, whose every stem seemed home to the green, to the ripe and to the gone to seed. Nothing’s lasts forever, except perhaps its memory.
After a few days growth a hairy face literally becomes an irritation and action is needed. Yesterday morning I used the reverse camera on my phone as a shaving mirror to explore elements of this everyday ritual. The bristles were long, the blade less than sharp, the water cold and the sink tiny. More elegance might be possible on future mornings but yesterday this is how it was. To day I noted how the same cycle has begun to turn again…
Another swim today in warm, clean and clear looking water is a further induction into a deeper exploration to come. I tested the water for hydrogen sulphide and the reading barely registered on the scale as the photographic record shows. There is little if any sewerage in the river today. My own waste goes into the chemical loo and thence to a mains pipe for safe disposal – this is not a requirement for yachts and other craft on the river.
There are around seventy Canada Geese summering on the marsh and surrounding fields, and today I found a large goose feather on the foreshore which I made into a pen by shaping the hollow end with a sharp knife. Goose feathers were the scribes weapon of choice until the advent of steel nibs in the nineteenth century. Whilst penning these brief notes on a mac book pro, this writer still likes the feel of scratching over the surface of real paper and using an ink made in the traditional way from the surrounding Oaks. Whilst enjoying the best of the new, I would hate to forget, or lose, what endures in the traditional.
A first swim in the Beaulieu River this afternoon on a high spring tide of 3.9m.