On a bright day we’ve been unwinding the bindweed from the buddleia. Clem asked what harm the bindweed does, and so we looked at the ways in which the buddleia canes had been bonsaied by it, but also at the damage to the tiny new shoots that are emerging along the older arms of the tree — is it a tree? is it a shrub? — into the winter sunshine. So Clem has been snipping, unwinding, and more or less tidying up the result. The grown-up puppy that lives over the fence has been sentinel to all of this activity, watching Clem steadily with her orange eyes.
At night the buddleia scrapes its branches on Clem’s windows. She asked me which of her sisters is more like my mother, and of course the family story is that it’s her: she’s tall, clumsy, and artistic. If we ever managed to get her to an optometrist we might also find out that she’s short-sighted.
My mother’s story of attending school for the first time at thirteen was that she was put at the back of the class for being the tallest, and it wasn’t for a year that she was diagnosed as not being able to read the writing on the blackboard. I thought this was funny when she told me, because I couldn’t imagine not being able to see. Now, just like her, I need help to find my glasses when I’m not wearing them.
“In the summer”, said Clem, “this all has a big smile of flowers.”