The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Ill in bed. Time for reflection

waterswillTwenty five years ago a talented craftsman passed me a small sculpture that he had made for his son. It was a model of the child, asleep in bed. The bedcover was the landscape in which he lived and played. He pointed out key places. The little copse where he climbed trees. The clear chalk lined stream where he fished for minnows. The butterfly meadow. The place where they had glimpsed the fox.

When I am ill in bed, I remember this exquisite bed with its landscape cover. The world beyond our duvet and downy pillows diminishes and the bed quickly becomes an island. Essential supplies are dropped off by Danny on his way to the Rat Room. Fresh hotties, cups of sweetened tea and packs of Beecham’s powders. I hear him talking softly to my client, explaining that I won’t be in today.

My focus becomes so small that a spider making a web above me keeps me amused for hours.

After a day or so, the island horizon starts to expand. Small day to day worries are forgotten. I become nocturnal, sleeping on and off during the day and reading into the night as D dreams gently beside me. I live vicariously through the lives of the characters in the pile of novels beside the bed.

I was surprised to wake from a long sleep this afternoon with Masefield’s words on my lips,
“Quinquireme of Nineveh”.
It must be forty years since I read the poem. Intrigued I ventured onto the Internet to put the words in context.
The line continues.
“…from distant Ophir
Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine.”

I felt a bit better. The sea air in my dream journey had clearly done me some good. I am rarely ill and have discovered that the enforced withdrawal and time for reflection often puts things gently into perspecive again.

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  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Lynn

    Thanks for dropping by. The flu bugs seem to have started early in England this year. This one has knocked me out!

    Hi Mildred,

    I’m feeling better today. Felt great until I got up and had a bath this afternoon. So I crept back to bed!

    Croissants! There is nothing better than a homemade croissant.

  2. Mildred

    Hi Fi, hope you felt well enough to make your quince jelly this afternoon. You are right, jam/jelly making is SO therapeutic. What IS it about jam making . . . . .
    We scoured the hedgerows today and found a couple of pounds of damsons, I have added the same in cooking apples and they are currently dripping through the jelly bag ready to boil up tomorrow.
    I needed my jam making ‘fix’ and we couldn’t find any more quinces!!
    I also made some croissants . . . . but that is another story.

  3. Fiona, I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been ill. Many bugs are going around here now this time of year also. Lots of people calling off work and students from school. We will be getting flu shots in November but it’s possible we should have had them already!

  4. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Seahorse,

    Having M.E. must be so hard. I feel for you.

    Five days in bed this week has been interesting for me – it’s been years since I’ve been ill in bed for so long. I’m getting up this afternoon to make quince jelly.

    I find making preserves very therapeutic.

  5. seahorse

    I have just found your site and written about my first jelly-making adventure, using one of your recipes. As I have M.E. I found this post very moving. My bed is indeed an island and I have to go there often. But I am fortunate in that when I have stored up enough energy I can potter around the kitchen. I think this preserve lark could prove really therapeutic for me, once I get over the stress of being a beginner and hovering over the pan with a thermometer.

  6. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Pat,

    It’s weird how intense things become when one is stuck in bed.

    Hi Celia,

    We didn’t sing Cargoes but it was in the ‘set’ poetry book. I was surprised how short it was when I found it again yesterday.

    I had ‘A Child’s Garden of Verses’ beside my bed as a child. RLS always seemed rather a romantic figure. Thanks for the link to the poem – it rang bells for me!

    Your parents sleeping under a landscape – what a lovely thought for you to have as a child.

  7. Hope you feel a little better each day Fiona – at least today’s beautiful weather might cheer you up.
    This has really touched some deep memories!
    Masefield™s ‘Cargoes’ – we used to sing that in school music lesons, and it’s all come flooding back! I’ll be singing it as I drive across the fens today.
    Do you know the poem ‘The Land of Counterpane’ by Robert Louis Stevenson? It’s in ‘A Child’s Garden of Verses’ – when I was young – probably when I had measels – my mum read to me from a battered 1948 Puffin Paperback edition illustrated by Eve Garnett (I’ve just found it on the shelf), and ‘The Land of Counterpane’ was my favourite because my parents bed had a green embroidered eiderdown which looked just like a landscape.

  8. I hope you feel better soon!!! I was transported into your dream there for a moment in time….

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