It was just short of three days, the visit of the older Daughter and Husband. Based 50 miles west of Chicago, the paraphernalia of busy lives makes visits to Glasgow infrequent. The garden knew. The cherry blossom hung on; the apple blossom tiptoed out; the camellia went bezerk and exploded into flower. Clemmie and Ben brought the spring with them.
Skype means there’s everything and nothing to catch up on. We know each other’s superficial news. We’ve seen each other’s faces. But we haven’t sat over pea and spinach soup, or said ‘want a cup of tea?’ or ‘the table’s booked for 8 o’clock’ or had a picnic day meandering through the tall mazy ruins of Linlithgow Palace and gazing over the Firth of Forth from a windy Blackness. Clemmie and I haven’t set off, with shopping purpose, into the city, only to stand amid the Hobbs finery for an hour talking about stuff that really matters before splurging in John Lewis and eating clams at Jamie’s.
Nor, over the skype, could Clemmie, with Ben at her side, bury the ashes of her little dog, Crumble, who was hers, though Crummie lived here always, and died here, aged 16, in February. We buried Crumble under the blooming camellia, and as we stepped back, I noticed for the first time that the camellia has grown into an almost perfect ‘C’. C for Crumble, C for Clemmie.
Clemmie and Ben left yesterday evening, and this morning I have a small vase of camellia blooms on my desk. They are perfect and poignant, a true reflection of the visit. They are also very pink, which isn’t a reflection of the visit but is nicely alliterative, and, for some reason, stops me sniffing into a handkerchief.