Posts Tagged ‘Love’
The women’s group that Nina and I are members of does some small work in helping women from around the world get aid that they need. One of the groups many activities is helping Iraqi women get access to specialist medical care. We have a lady and her nine year old son staying with us for a few weeks while he receives medical treatment at the University Hospital here in Maastricht. The boy Ziad is a delightful child, with a wonderful spark to him, though he is very clearly ill. His mother is outwardly a modest and reserved woman, tired, worn but I suspect she has a deep reserve of strength under there. As I was forming this opinion I was looking at the small, frail form of her son who at eight years old is two thirds the size of our eight year old son who is not a sturdy build himself and thinking that she was going to need that strength in the next few months.
About three am she went back to bed and I tidied things away in the kitchen. Before I went back upstairs I went into the guest suite to find she had finally fallen asleep. I drew the duvet cover up over her so she would not be cold when she woke and while doing so I noticed a damp handkerchief in front of her. I was about to move it when I saw two photographs laying in front of her on the sheet, they had clearly been her focus as she had drifted off to sleep.I consider myself pretty hardened to the horrors that life can throw about, having experienced some of the worst of it myself, but even before I reached to pick them up I had a foreboding about these. Carefully I picked them up, aware that what I was handling was obviously very precious to her. In one photo there was a younger, fresher looking Amira, clearly distressed and holding a severely deformed newborn to her face. The way she was holding it showed all the love and care that I use when holding my own. The baby’s face was all out of proportion, there was the biggest cleft in it’s face I had ever seen splitting its entire nose and gouging deep into the upper palette. The back of the skull did not look like it was containing the brain, but rather it was spilling out under the scalp. Blood vessels under the skin were not right, they were poorly formed and grossly distended. The poor blighted child’s limbs would obviously never work properly even if the brain could control them, which I doubted, everything was all wrong. It was in short, a monster. The other photo was another newborn, though not a live one, nothing could live without a brain, eyes and with its viscera laying beside it on a green hospital surgical sheet, but even so a woman’s hand and arm were holding the childs still hand in a way that only a mother would. I knew it would be Amira again, the way she held her child in the other photo, the gentle way I had seen her touch her son told me that no matter what her children were blighted with her love was greater. Here was someone who saw past the appearance of scary monsters to love what was underneath.I carefully, reverentially, replaced the photos exactly where I had found them. I put the handkerchief back where it had been and then covered Amira’s shoulders before slipping from the rooms.
Depleted uranium, despite its rather benign-sounding name, is not depleted of radioactivity or toxicity. The term “depleted” refers only to its being depleted of the U-235 isotope needed for fission reactions in nuclear reactors. While the Pentagon has continued to claim, against all scientific evidence, that there is no hazard posed by depleted uranium, US troops in Iraq have been instructed to avoid any sites where these weapons have been used such as destroyed Iraqi tanks and exploded bunkers and to wear masks if they do have to approach. Recently a video has come to light, made by the US Military it talks about dealing with DU contamination making it very clear of the highly toxic and dangerous nature of DU. It rather blows claims by the US government to be safe. Many destroyed vehicles were sent to the US, where they have been buried in special sites reserved for dangerously contaminated nuclear materials. Thousands of tons of DU-contaminated sand from Kuwait, polluted with DU during the US destruction of Iraq’s tank forces in the 1991 war, were removed and shipped to a waste site in Idaho a decade years ago, very quietly. International health officials have been prevented or obstructed from doing medical studies of DU sites in Iraq and Afghanistan though some persisted despite documented threats by US contractors from Blackwater and had found sites to be extremely “hot” with radioactivity.
It has been a long hot summer’s day, but now with sun set and the evening starting to cool it I meandered through the summer paradise that is our modest walled garden in the heart of old Maastricht.
As I walked through my nigh time paradise my mind drifted to thoughts of that beautiful painting by Botticelli of spring called Primavera. In it Venus, precious and beautiful, is standing in the centre of the picture, set slightly back from the other figures. The figures of the Charites, also called Three Graces, are elegantly dancing a rondel. The garden of Venus, goddess of love, is guarded on the left by Mercury. It is a beautiful, wonderful, lovely painting full of symbolism and telling a story, as all pictures of that period did.
The painting contains images of nearly two hundred plant species. One, the myrtle plant that surrounds her is a plant that represents sexual desire, marriage, and child bearing. From the right, Zephyrus, the god of the winds, is forcefully pushing his way in, in pursuit of the nearly naked nymph Chloris clad only in a diaphanous gown. Chloris gave her name to chlorophyll, the substance that gives all plants their green colour. Next to her walks Flora, the goddess of spring, who is scattering flowers. Flora tells how she was once the nymph Chloris herself, and breathes out flowers as she does so. Aroused to a terrible fiery passion by her beauty, Zephyr, the god of the wind, follows Chloris and forcefully takes her as his wife, raping her. Regretting his violence, he transforms her into Flora. He makes his gift of contrition to her a beautiful garden in which eternal spring reigns. The painting actually depicts the two separate moments in the narrative, the erotic pursuit of Chloris by Zephyr and her subsequent transformation into Flora. She is beautiful with a rich flower garland on her head and delicate spring blooms erupting from her dress, arms full of flowers. Chloris/Flora, nymph, lover, mother, giver of life, force of nature. It is a painting that resonates with me on a number of levels.
One summer evening when I was in my very early teens I was in my grandmother’s sprawling garden. As we wondered arm in arm down her rose tunnel her lovely, lyrical, aging voice spoke a verse I had never heard before…
“Spring-time and Venus come, And Venus’ boy, the winged harbinger, steps on before, And hard on Zephyr’s foot-prints Mother Flora, Sprinkling the ways before them, filleth all, With colours and with odours excellent.”
She smiled as she told me that some of her best times with lovers had been in gardens. My Oma was famous for the long string of male and female lovers she had had in her life. Walking with her amidst stories of her lovers I found I was seduced by her garden, it was the first time I was aware that a garden could seduce you, but it was not the last. Ever since that lovely evening, I have been a prolific lover of gardens. In my time I have flitted from one garden to the next enjoying every brief liaison, and in some I have even indulged my own passions and lusts and given myself over freely to the botanical and the human delights with equal abandon.
This night I was wondering through my garden as I often do on summer nights, naked. I had shrugged my nightshirt off my shoulders as I left the hardness of wooden deck and stepped onto the cool grass. As my feet touched down on the soft, cool carpet of grass the first caress of the garden came and touched my feet, tickling little teases of grass between my toes, cool and soothing. The air of the night wrapped itself about my naked body pushing away the fog of the warm indoors and breathing freshness over every part of me with a caress as sensuous as any lovers kiss. Away from the house lights I was now blind, my sight no longer functions in low light, but it did not matter, I know my garden so well I do not need my now failing eye sight. I fancied I could almost navigate by smell alone. Turning left I could smell is the clematis along the Roman wall, turn right the first burst of Honeysuckle by the first border. I turn right to walk alongside the big stone and flint wall and my guide dog Sissi walks past me brushing my leg just enough to tell me that she is there watching over me like my own Zephyr, then she wanders off to take her own pleasure in the garden’s scents. Imagine if I had a dogs nose, how wondrous my garden would seem then. I could smell every tiny little bud, every mote of soil. I wondered if she could smell ladybirds, do caterpillars have a smell ? Does she see the smells of my garden as a haze of intermixing colours in the air?
Then I turned towards the long wildflower grass and stepped lightly into the patch and enjoyed the caressing of thigh high grasses and wild flowers. As I pushed through the light sea of grasses the lush smell of them washed about me, while all over my thighs delicate thin fingers tested and teased their way up. I bent forward and pushed my hands down into the gently rolling surf of grass and meadow flowers, the little strands and stalks between my fingers, crisp tight heads of grasses popping past me. The swaying heads played against my breasts, naughty little fingers reaching up to tickle and tease until I felt the familiar warmth of milk starting to let down. It felt like grass and meadow flowers were growing out of my legs, as though I was becoming Flora, how wonderful would that be, to breath out sapphire cornflower heads and golden Marigolds, sowing my garden afresh with each exhalation !
Then Sissi has circled back to me and pushed her muzzle into my right hand, the message for me to look about and pay attention. I looked and coming towards me silhouetted against the light from the house was a very familiar shape indeed. My very own Chloris clad in a diaphanous gown of fine white linen. In my mind I could make out the roll of her hips, that gentle swaying saunter she has that exudes sensuous sexuality. Wading through the floral surf she reached out and put her hands onto my hips and pulled us together. I smiled to myself as I realised her scent was Flowers a vivid mix of Jasmine, sweet pea and rose. I reached under the edge of her nightshirt and traced her nakedness underneath with my fingers, from the smoothness of her thighs, across the curves of her waist and across the flatness of her belly. Exactly a year before that wonderful belly had been great with child but now it was back to its normal gentle curvature while from womb to home our baby now slept soundly in the house. I un-did the buttons on her shirt and pushed it off her shoulders. As it dropped to form a white pool amid the darkness of the grass about her feet I stepped back . Chloris was naked before me. She took my arm and we walked the night time paths of our garden past Amethyst, Summer Sorbet, Wisteria and Akebia.
Author: Judith van der Roos.
The day is ending, and mercifully cooling. The afternoon was so hot that everyone was short of patience and quick to temper, but with the gentle cooling of the evening has come cooler heads at last. Our dogs, which are so important to Hilke and Judith, were utterly exhausted by the heat today. The moment we got back from town we got their harnesses and coats off and they shot out into the garden to cool off under the garden sprinkler. Now here I sit out on our lawn under the shade of the maple tree watching our youngest. He is six months old, naked and discovering new and fascinating things in the grass. Sissi, Judith’s guide dog, is watching him from the shade, she is a dog with a natural mothering instinct and will keep an eye on him at all times. Somewhere in the bushes and vines to the side of me Hilke, Nicky and one of their friends are devising some new game, I can hear them arguing out the “rules” !
Reflections On Love Part I
Across the lawn on the green wall, where she grows salad produce Judith is picking salad leaves with Mariakse, our three year old, the first born of my womb. Those leaves will go into the bowl to go with our meal this evening. She grows an amazing range of herbs and leaves there, many of which have a medicinal quality but all of which go to make some beautifully fragrant salad combinations. She is wearing one of her white linen summer dresses that mark the line of her slender frame so nicely. I am reflecting on the beauty I see. Mariaske is sitting on her shoulders to reach leaves at the top of the wall. I could hear Judith giving her instructions, always so very patient with the children, to me it is part of her beauty. The dipping evening sun was shinning through that white dress showing another aspect of her beauty. The funny thing is that I can see her naked form any time I wish but as I watched her there the covering of her long white dress seemed to be all the more erotic. I know that many couples on becoming parents feel a loss of their sexuality but watching that lovely form I wondered just how that could be because for me becoming a mother has enhanced the sensuality in my life. The more I watched the more I wanted to slip upstairs with her for a few minutes, and with those rather tantalising thoughts in my head I dozed off in the evening sun.
Reflections on Love Part II
After school yesterday we had collected the children and taken to the park for some games. It had clearly been a long day in stuffy school classrooms because both Nicky and Hilke were very irritable with each other, nasty irritable. Hilke has an especially sharp tongue which she can use to slice and dice to good effect and was doing so liberally with Nicky. Judith and I watched from our park seat when just as the mutual abuse reached a pitch Hilke’s legs gave out and she pitched face first to the ground. It is a characteristic of her Spina Bifida that sometimes the signals down her spine misfire and take her legs out from under her. Judith was about to jump up and rush across but I stopped her and watched as Nicky dashed back to help his sister as Jos (Hilke’s guide dog) fussed about her. As we watched all trace of anger at her had vanished from his face as very gently he brushed some leaves and dirt off her face and checked her for injury as he had been taught. All the anger and frustration with his sister had left his body language to be replaced with………………………complete concern. The spinal misfire had also caused her to loose bladder control briefly. He could have have easily teased her about that in revenge for her savage tongue, but instead he reassured her and helped her cover her embarrassment. Later at home, all cleaned up, she came to her brother as he sat at the big table doing some drawing and wrapping her arms around him gave him a kiss. They exchanged no words or signing, but all nasty words of earlier were wiped away. It was a moment that makes all the hard work of being a parent worthwhile. As they grow up they will always have their disagreements but the understanding they have of each other’s worlds as shaped by their respective disabilities has given them a bond and a deeper love.
Reflections On Love Part III
Yesterday, despite the sun having set it was still hot and the air still. We had set up beds out under the patio vines so that we could all sleep outside with the hope that a good sleep in the night air by candle light would help re balance everyone. All the children were restless and having trouble trying to sleep in the still humid air. Our youngest, Joost (six months old), was the most discontent. Just after midnight he tucked up beside me on the double hammock that Judith and I occupied and I put my breast to his mouth in the hope that he would finally fall asleep as he suckled. Initially he was just as restless at my breast as he had been before, but slowly he started to draw on me more deeply and soon I felt his little body relax against me. I will never cease to be amazed by this incredible thing we call motherhood. As he had suckled and my milk let down I felt my love for him surging through me as my milk flowed out. It was as though all my own frustrations and annoyances of the day were being sponged, perhaps sucked is a more apt expression, away. This wonderful sensation was of course the hormone Oxytocin. It is an amazing and incredible feat of nature, with Joost latching onto my nipple the hormone was released into my blood stream further sealing the mother /infant bond and causing another hormone, prolactin, to kick in and stimulate my breasts to make milk. I knew that this amazing dance of chemicals was going on inside me to produce these feelings, but it did not matter. I was away on a cloud of love, remembering the icy winter night of his birth, remembering the way his little body had filled mine both physically and spiritually before bursting forth orgasmically into the dim light of dawn.
The more he drew on my breast the greater my recollection of my complete rapture upon seeing him in those first few moments of his life. By the time I was reaching down between my legs to pick him up and hold him to me I was wondering how much love was needed to actually stop a human heart because mine was so full at that moment I was sure it would stop at any moment. At my breast Joost was utterly content, maybe even enjoying his own recollection of loves first moments perhaps, I would like to think he was. In the end I do not know which of us fell asleep first.
My absent parents thought parenting was a matter of throwing money and goods at their child was a good way to raise them while leaving out time, attention, love and affection. When I was a teenager I had made my mind up that I was never going to inflict the experience of childhood that I had on by never having children of my own. I was very certain of that, rock solid certain. It is funny how chance encounters can so completely change you but I am so very glad a chance encounter I had changed me because I would hate to have missed out on all of this.