on the April 2017 table

I am documenting the year with monthly photographs of my kitchen table. Capturing the jumble that accumulates here, at the heart of the kitchen, is also a way to record some of the domestic stories of our family life.

Better late than never- the April table. I know that some people are superstitious about bringing lilacs indoors, but I can never resist them, particularly with a lilac tree in the garden. I adore their heady scent, and the brief weeks in spring when they are in flower are a joyful time for me. Lilacs always bring to mind a favourite T.S. Eliot line from ‘Portrait of a Lady’:

‘Now that lilacs are in bloom
She has a bowl of lilacs in her room
And twists one in her fingers while she talks.’

I quote the same poem every year, and this year I attempted an image to accompany those words.

Not just lilacs, but snippings of cow parsley too. It seems to have flowered early this year. At this time year I find myself with jugs and vases of flowers on every surface- from the garden, from the verges, from the hedgerow. I’d like to think that I’m channelling Constance Spry, but really I find it impossible to resist those clouds of starry white blooms.

Years ago, when I was studying for my Masters (it was in modern and contemporary poetry, which helps to explain the love of Eliot), I worked part time in a Bristol bookshop. Bill Jones, a colleague of mine from that time, who also became a friend, has recently written his first book. Like my friend Bill, the book is brilliant, and funny, and completely unique. The Life and Times of Algernon Swift is a story told through a clever collection of puns and hand-drawn illustrations, and is unlike anything I’ve ever read. It has me alternately giggling and marvelling over the intricate illustrations and the ingenuous interpretations of language.

I’m drinking tea, always. The little cactus and planters sent to me from Hi Cacti via Etsy as part of their celebration of World Earth Month, and an encouragement to bring the outside in. As you know, I need little encouragement, but whilst I am endlessly gathering flowers, I rarely have much luck with house plants. Thankfully my love is more green fingered than I, so I shall entrust it to his capable hands.

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  • The monthly photographs is such a great idea for a project… And I didn’t know that about lilacs – I used to always gather armfulls of them when they grew outside my apartment in Warsaw. Their smell still reminds me of that city.

  • Oooh, I missed this one, you know I LOVE your kitchen table!

    My mother-in-law told me about the superstition about lilacs and being superstitious myself I SO wished she hadn’t. My neighbour’s lilac tree is ripe for scrumping in April but I just can’t bring myself to bring those beautiful blooms in. Ah well, at least I can admire them from my kitchen window! xx