On Wednesday 6th it was sunny and windy.
I was driving back to Saffron Walden to collect my now-repaired car,
and from there on to my Mother's house. In several places on the way
the air was full of thistledown.
I have mentioned so many flowers in the past few months but nettles,
docks and thistles have barely received a mention. They tend to be
overlooked because they are viewed as 'weeds' by farmers and
gardeners. Well, nettles sting and thistles are full of spikes - and
docks have greenish-amber-brown flowers so they are not the first
ones to notice or mention. But actually they are all quite special.
Nettles are host to many of the beautiful butterflies. The juice of
dock leaves counters the sting of nettles while thistles with their
massed purple flowers grace the road-side in many places. The great
Scottish Thistle is the emblem of Scotland and its cousin the Spear
Thistle is also magnificent. The common thistle is beautiful in
flower - and is now still lovely, having masses of creamy seed-heads.
As the wind or the draft of passing vehicles passes these it lifts
clouds of delicate parachutes of thistledown into the air.
I don't know how or why but on Wednesday the thistledown plumes were
always rising, never descending, like aspiration dreams always upward-
bound. They reminded me of many years ago when my husband and I were
first married and our landlords were a Sikh family who lived next
door to us in Birmingham. We were very much like an extended part of
I guess Harminder - who had the nickname Munei - was about 5 years
old at that time. I loved gardening and Munei would often come and
help. One day some thistledown seeds were drifting over the garden
and she was dancing all over the lawn, leaping up and trying to catch
them. It's not easy because they are so feather-light that they lift
away from the movement of your hands.
Seeing me watching her Munei told me seriously that 'if you can catch
one of those soft round things with long legs the fairies will give
you your wish.' I asked Munei how come? How did the fairies grant you
a wish? Munei thought for a moment and then said, (and although it
was over 30 years ago I think I still remember her words) 'Well, when
you catch one of those soft round things with long legs, the fairies
can see your wishes. Then the fairies whisper your wishes to God and
God whispers them to you mum when she is doing her prayers in the
morning. And then, when your mum goes into town, she will get the
things for you. So it's true. If you can catch one of those soft
round things with long legs, the fairies will give you your wish.
My husband and I lived with Tara and his family in 1974 - 5 . The two
boys Jaginder and Mohinder would often call for him to go to the park
and play cricket in the summer evenings and I would take a picnic
for us all to enjoy afterwards. Jaginder and his wife are close
friends of mine still and he is my trusted Car Mechanic - indeed the
family has remained friends but my husband has not seen them in
My husband's birthday falls on 8th August and this year it is extra-
special, being 08-08-08. We decided to celebrate in a special way,
all meeting up in Birmingham. I drove with Ma from the East of the
country, while my husband drove here with our son from Wales which is
far west. Birmingham is right in the middle of England. My husband
booked us all into a hotel for the weekend so we can enjoy
some 'quality family time' without anyone having to drive too far -
and we can call on a lot of old friends who we have not seen for
years. High on the list will be Tara and his family.
Today it is raining but on Wednesday it was bright and breezy. At
mum's on Wednesday I shared the job of mowing the grass. Her garden
is so big it takes several hours to cut - and then more time to rake
and barrow up the cut grass. We had finished most of the cutting by
evening - and were both hot and tired - so we left the raking for
Thursday but it rained in the night. On Thursday there were many
intense thunderstorms. We have several ways of describing rain in
England. On Thursday it was raining 'cats and dogs' - or 'daggers'
very intense rain like the monsoon. This is not what you want at
harvest time. It can even knock the grain out of the ears of wheat,
like a threshing machine. Then if the weather stays wet the grains
can start sprouting in the ears, before they have been harvested. If
the farmer tries to harvest them damp they can go moldy. So it is a
really difficult time for farmers. They will now need several days of
sun and wind to dry the almost-ripe cornfields so they can continue
with the harvest.
On Friday when Ma and I drove to Birmingham there were many squally
showers of rain. The sky was often so dark cars turned on their
lights. The clouds were dark grey and navy blue with the lower edges
frayed and uneven, like torn paper. Sometimes there were 'mares-
tails' or streaks of cloud reaching the ground where the rain was
falling heavily in the distance. We passed many fields where the corn
has been flattened by the storms. It was like a dramatic film-set
scene for some horror movie.
Today is Saturday and it is still grey and wet but the weather is not
dampening our family-birthday spirit. There is a swimming pool in our
hotel and while it is not very big I did swim over 50 lengths before
breakfast. Later I came out to use this Internet Cafe because use of
internet is expensive at the hotel and I wanted to tell you all the
news. I must get back now as my husband will be ready to go out and
start the visiting.
When we visit some of our friends who love Guru I will collect poems
from them. They are copying out some of their favorite poems for me
to bring to New York and make into a Prasad. So even though it is a
special human-family celebration-weekend my heart is still with my
big family, my spiritual family and especially dreaming of being
with you all in New York.