Posted by: christinelaennec | July 6, 2015

Knowing how to live each season

My title is a loose translation of a comment Annie left on my last post:  “il faut savoir vivre chaque saison”.  She was referring to gardening, but these words apply to so much more in life.  The Dafter has been going through a dip, which is not uncommon with ME/CFS, but it’s always worrying.

Rainclouds, Glasgow, 5 July 2015.

Rainclouds, Glasgow, 5 July 2015.

She had to come home early from a long-planned trip to see friends in Aberdeen, because she was so ill she could hardly walk.  Luckily she managed to get herself onto a train, and also luckily she has not been absolutely floored or discouraged by it.

The weather has been similarly unsettled, with dramatic clouds, downpours and thunderstorms.  We have also had beautiful sunny spells where the air is deliciously soft after the rain.

Green!  Early July 2015, Glasgow.

Green! Early July 2015, Glasgow.

Tall grasses, early July 2015, Glasgow.

Tall grasses, early July 2015, Glasgow.

Recently, I wrote a short story, for the first time in ages.  The Scottish Book Trust wanted stories of journeys, emotional or physical, so I wrote about the Dafter’s and my experiences in the past four years.  It was very good to remind myself of how far the Dafter has come.  The story is online at the moment; it’s called “Through the Valley”. Click here if you would like to have a read of it.

The Dafter celebrates the 4th of July in style!

The Dafter celebrates the 4th of July in style!

She was in great pain on Saturday, but decided to celebrate Independence Day, so got dressed and made up in red-white-and-blue!

The garden has been holding up pretty well in the downpours, so far:

Sunshine after the rain, 5 July 2015, Glasgow.

Sunshine after the rain, 5 July 2015, Glasgow.

It has been full of bees!  They just love the foxglove, and scabiosa / pincushion flower.  In her July 8th essay, Katharine Stewart wrote: “The wind is in the east now, which means a chance… of some sun.  The bees are encouraged, though warily.  They have a feel for the weather more accurate than that recorded by all the technology down south, and a solid instinct for survival.  This means that they’re having to consume most of what they make in order to stay alive.  There might not be much surplus this year, I’m afraid.” (A Garden in the Hills, p. 89)

The garden, Glasgow, early July 2015.

The garden, Glasgow, early July 2015.

I don’t know whether the bees will have a surplus (they mostly seem to be honeybees), but we are just very happy to help them along.

Canterbury bells, my garden, Glasgow, early July 2015.

Canterbury bells, my garden, Glasgow, early July 2015.

I adore the colour of the light blue canterbury bells.  It’s called “Cornish Blue” but seems much lighter than the blue of the Cornish striped pottery at any rate.  In the evening, in certain lights, the white and blue flowers look lit from within.

Brighter days are ahead!

Brighter days are ahead!

Thanks to everyone who has left good wishes for the Dafter.  She’s been managing to leave the house nearly every day, and makes the most of life regardless.  She truly knows how to “live each season” whatever it brings.

I wish you all a good rest of the week!



  1. I am having a very bad period myself, started a month ago or so. So much pain, I feel I am living in a world of my own. But I am alive and tomorrow is another day. Bless Dafter, brave and lovely girl. Better days will come, meanwhile living every day and every season is so important. Somehow, life seems more “real” or “clearer” after I fell ill 15 years ago. I see life through different “glasses”. Love the pictures of your garden. Pam in Norway

  2. Oh those bells are pretty. Your daughter looks so nice in that “Good Vibs” outfit. Hope she is on the upswing soon. Great post and pictures.

  3. Christine, I read your short story and found it heart-wrenching and hopeful. I continue to live in hope for the very best for you and yours…appreciating with you, the steps of progress, and the beautiful and fun moments as well, while acknowledging with sadness and frustration your setbacks. Thanks for sharing your family’s walk through the valley with Dafter, and for focusing on “through!”

    I am cheering you “through” and appreciating the wonderful photos of the sky and your flowers and Dafter celebrating the 4th. While our gardens are not as full of wonderful colors as yours are we do have honey bees and my yellow gold cherry tomato plant is full of promising flowers and little green tomatoes!

    Wishing you happy summer days! xx

    P.S. Can you believe the Portland area is HOT and DRY…now…still?

  4. “One beautiful summer afternoon, we go for a walk under ancient trees near a waterfall. We talk about how much we love each other’s company, how lucky we’ve been to have had this chance to be together over the past four years, even though it’s been a journey we never wanted.”

    Christine: I know this sounds silly but I so wish that I had a magic wand and could wave away all the fatigue and pain. Oh would I! But how like you, and how like D. I now see, to enjoy what else has bloomed these many difficult seasons. Your daughter and your garden are beautiful, in the summer and in every other time of the year. Our best to the three of you.

  5. The garden is looking beautiful, some stunning flowers in the borders. You are one step closer to all going over to the Islands hoping that will happen.

  6. Well done Dafter…keep on keepin’ on, and one day the sun will break out of the clouds permanently. Beautiful garden, Christine, xx

  7. What an abundance of beautiful flowers! And even more impressive for the fact that the garden is so young. The gardener clearly knows her art.

  8. I love the pictures of the garden and of the Dafter!!! I’m sorry she’s had this downturn and hope that it won’t last too long. Loved your story. It is beautiful and heart-rending at the same time and you weave hope through it and show the silver lining of these very difficult situations. Amazing how I can read that story in a few minutes and yet it took you years to live it and I know those years probably felt like a life-time. Just the fact that you wrote that story is another glimpse of coming through the valley — hoping that means you will continue to do more writing here in the future!

  9. Chère Christine, votre fille est bien courageuse ! “Savoir vivre chaque saison”, je ne suis sas sûre de savoir le faire moi-même à bientôt 66 ans !
    Comme d’habitude votre billet est pour moi plein d’enseignements. C’est pourquoi je l’ai classé avec un autre blog ‘Bonheur du jour”, sous le titre “Du bien à l’âme”. Un grand merci à vous et à elle.

  10. Your story is excellent – powerful and moving, and beautifully written.

  11. Haven’t been around for a while, Christine. Apologies for that. Sorry to hear that the dafter has been through a dip, but great to see her showing a happy face in spite of everything. Your garden appears to be doing likewise, in spite of the weather!

  12. Sorry to hear Dafter had to come home early however on the plus side she managed to do it herself which would have been impossible just a few months ago so things are still getting better in baby steps. I have had to give myself a telling off for paying way too much attention to weather forecasts! If they say it will rain I find myself waiting for it to happen not quite realising that while it’s dry and actually quite sunny I could be outside getting on with things! So far the west of Scotland has had a very unsettled summer, no plans can be made as its dry one minute and pouring the next however as you say we must know how to live in every season and I’m really going to have to try harder to accept there’s nothing I can do about the weather whatever the season!! x

  13. Thank you, everyone, for your very kind words. I’m pleased that you liked my story. Perhaps my religious metaphor might put something off, but it’s my own way of “getting through”. I do think choosing hope (and gratitude) is crucially important.

    Pam, I’m sorry your pain is so bad at the moment, and I hope it soon lifts. I found your words about illness helping you to see more clearly very interesting – that resonates with me too. Certainly these experiences cause you to value what you can enjoy so much more. I often feel as if my daughter was in a terrible accident, and as you say, the great thing is that she is alive and tomorrow is another day.

    Lucinda, thank you! I bought that t-shirt for her because I thought it summed up her attitude really well.

    Gracie, thank you. It’s true that the challenges of life make the victories and pleasures so much sweeter. And our struggles make us focus on the most important thing, which is our relationships with one another. Yes, I have been hearing about the heat and drought in Portland. It seems like every time we have been to Portland in the summer it’s been 100 degrees (last time we chose to go in the spring to avoid the heat). But it’s the lack of rain that is so very worrying…

    Cathy, thank you so much. Yes – much has bloomed and is blooming. I recently came across a print-out of an email from you nearly 20 years ago: “I’ve met this great guy” it started… Our love to the three of you as well.

    Lorraine, some good news is that a dear friend of the Dafter’s will be on the islands when we are, and I think that will be a huge help. Fingers crossed!

    Tina, thanks – I like the “sun will break out of the clouds permanently” idea!

    oldblack, thank you. My current garden has benefited from the many, many mistakes that I’ve made over the years in previous gardens!

    Heather, thanks very much. I felt strongly what a big step it was, just to be able to carve out some little bits of time, and have the energy, to concentrate on writing a story!

    Annie, merci, c’est très gentil! Personally I gravitate towards spending my energy on things that I find uplifting, rather than the reverse.

    Flora, thank you, that means a lot coming from you!

    Martin, thank you and lovely to hear from you.

    marksgran, I don’t think the weather forecasters have had an easy job of it this summer, and you’re quite right just to take the chance when you can. I guess that’s what the plants do! Hope you’re all doing fine – I’ve been thinking of you.

  14. The Dafter’s perseverance and spirit are quite humbling. We are all rooting for her here – and for you and Michael.

    • Thanks so much, Linda. You and your family have been fantastic cheerleaders right from the start! We appreciate it very much.

  15. I like the Dafter’s t-shirt and good for her, getting dressed up for Independence Day when she wasn’t well. I’m so sorry she’s had a dip but as you say in your story (which I thought was great, by the way, and many congratulations on having it put up on the Scottish Book Trust website) she’s getting through the valley. Here’s hoping for more days soon when the light is shining brighter at the end of the tunnel, and at some point one glorious day when she’ll be fully bathed in it.

    • Lorna, thanks very much. I’m glad you liked the story, and I love “at some point one glorious day… she’ll be fully bathed in it”! Yes, indeed. After being ill for four years, she generally has a policy of doing as much as she possibly can regardless of pain and fatigue levels. But she is so positive and uncomplaining (most of the time) that I just find her very inspirational.

  16. I’m sorry that the day I decide to check in after a long hiatus, that I find that the Dafter’s health has taken a downturn. I always find much inspiration from you – and how to weather the storm, or live each season. I will be sending thoughts your way.

    Look forward to clicking on your essay! XO

    • Thanks, Stacy. The general trend is up, albeit very slowly. We have a lot to be thankful for. I often think of you – lovely to see you back in blogland! X

  17. I’m so sorry your daughter’s health has taken a dip. She looks wonderful in her 4th July outfit and has the most lovely smile 🙂 I hope she will start to regain her strength again soon. It sounds like she is a very strong girl and has a very caring and supportive Mum.

  18. I just read your article Christine. I’m so sorry. You have all been through so much in the last four years. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Keeping you and your lovely girl in my prayers. x

    • Suzy, thanks for both your comments, and for keeping us in your prayers. As you know so well yourself, life is very challenging at times, but you’re quite right that the Dafter is very strong, and she herself thanks us sincerely for being there for her. We have a very loving family and that goes a long ways towards happiness and healing.

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