The weather forecast is dodgy. Last night, early morning, hot strong winds, trees bending in the moonlight, three drops of rain and then silence. And now, another hot and humid day and the rains have just begun. Across the garden I can hear my neighbour's teenage daughter wailing in despair at her mother, cups are flying across the patio and the church bells from down by the river join in.
Was it that difficult with us, I asked S last week and she very diplomatically replied, no Mum, never. It is a blessing, this selective memory. But then again, there always has been and will be too much love between us. Enough to blank out the difficult bits. That's what this love is for.
My mother never liked or loved her children. I know there are people who hate me for saying this. Didn't she make these lovely matching coats for us? Her vegetable garden, the bean poles, the field of strawberries to get lost in after school? The one (and only) time she went with us all to the movies (Cinderella)? Come on.
For a long time after her death I would meet her. She called on me and she watched me.
One day she was a shiny black crow suddenly landing on the uphill forest path, forcing me off my bicycle. We looked at each other for some time, silent and completely motionless until she turned her head and flew away.
Another time, she was a young hawk who suddenly swooped down on me with a loud screech, almost reaching my hair with her claws. Only I was faster, cycling on with my heart leaping out of my throat.
Some winter Sundays, she sat silently on the bare branches of the pear tree, staring through the kitchen window in her shiny blue jay glory.
Most often, though, I met her as a stringy old pigeon, one eye missing, deformed toes, picking through the crumbs and cigarette buds under the chestnuts by the outdoor cafes in the city.
That was then.
The birds I meet these days are young and cheeky, like that fearless blackbird with the odd white feather sticking out sideways. The noisy green parakeets flocking the garden in big swoops. Magpies with their messy nests.
It is not just that we see birds as little versions of ourselves. It is also that, at the same time, they stand outside any moral process. They are utterly indifferent. This absolute oblivion on their part, this lack of sharing, is powerful.