Singing Wren

“What’s going in that pot?”

“Dad wants to put the bamboo in it,” I say for the fifth time in twenty-four hours. My gaze falls on the large Malaysian plant pot across the lawn at the far side of the garden.

“Oh” Mum continues wiping the glass of the outside table. It’s smeared with cheese and the debris of yesterday’s eating.

I watch her and wonder how her brain is now working. What would it be like to start to lose your memory? Outwardly she appears the same if not a little older and more shrunken. She jokes that she is shrinking each year. It isn’t a joke. She visibly shrinks before our eyes as she reaches the last of her octogenarian years and moves towards her next decade. What do you call someone in their nineties? A nonagenarian. That sounds wrong. It should be some not none.

She pauses on her way up the steps to the back door leading into the kitchen, tilts her head, listening. “Oh, he’s been calling for his mate all week.” She sets off again as the bird’s high-pitched song dances around the garden. “Poor thing.”

I look around scanning the rose arch, yew and hawthorn hedge, the scattered shrubs and summer flowers, searching for the wren. I know it is a wren for she told me yesterday when we walked around the garden. She had named the plants and knew which season they would be in flower and the colour and size of blossom, which ones were scented and which ones they’d placed in the wrong spot, where they couldn’t flourish.

A lifetime of knowledge.

Don’t forget Rosemary




Hot olive oil splashed on my finger as I dropped the pattie into the frying pan. I swore and jumped back, withdrawing my hand before swiftly running it under the cold tap. The water came out lukewarm, after all, the temperatures had been in the high 30s all week. It did little to abate the pain.


I fumbled in the over-laden freezer. The relief was immediate but the ice-cube dissolved in my hand, drips running down to my elbow. As soon as I removed the ice, the pain came back, intense. I swore again at my carelessness. It had been years since I’d had a bad burn.


I used to always leave a bottle in the kitchen. Where was it?  My daughter would have been using it in the bathroom. The bottle was leaning against the tea tree and neem bottles in a small basket. I dipped my throbbing finger straight into the bottle. It felt good, but still hurt like hell. I removed my finger and examined it. No blisters. Give it time I told myself and went back to the kitchen to rescue the patties with my hand held out in front of me in an oily middle finger salute. Left handed I turned the patties. The chickpeas hadn’t stuck; I’d used enough oil for that.

Minutes later, nursing a ‘medicinal’ cup of tea, third finger still pointing to the heavens, I realised the pain had gone – completely gone. I’d forgotten how wonderful lavender oil could be. Twenty odd years ago when I first discovered aromatherapy I had marvelled at how effective the remedies were and how useful the oils were, whether mixed in creams, inhalations or as insect deterrents, and also how they could give balance to life simply by drifting in the air.

Where had all that knowledge gone?

I sipped at my tea and looked out of the large french-window. I glimpsed the basil behind the rosemary bush and thought it needed some water to revive it from the intense heat. I’d already lost two of my basil plants and didn’t want this one to meet the same fate. What was basil good for apart from its yummy taste? And what about rosemary? Wasn’t rosemary good for memory?

Maybe that’s why I forgot to use the knowledge I once had at my fingertips. Did it take a burn of the aforementioned digit to remind me how once I had revelled in the knowledge of so many useful things that I now, apparently, neglected to use. But why? If they worked so well, how could I simply forget to use them?

Or had I forgotten?

The diffuser sits in the middle of our living area and the heady fragrance of geranium frequently wafts throughout the house. I can’t remember why I so often choose it but it always makes me feel good.

I look it up now as I write this and see that it is, amongst other things, an uplifting tonic. So of course that was why I so frequently used it over the years. And there is always a bottle of thyme next to the diffuser; I use that when someone has a cold or flu. Then the tea tree and the eucalyptus I leave in the laundry and the citronella for keeping the creepy crawlies at bay and the clove oil that is great for toothache or breath freshener… the list goes on.

I hadn’t stopped using the oils, they were simply so ingrained in my life that I no longer consciously thought about their usage.

Or maybe I just need to start using a bit more of that rosemary oil … if only I could remember where I put it.