There are many types of ruins, ruined castles, ruined churches, ruined monasteries, old stone circles fallen into ruins, barns alongside the highway, backs broken, roofs caved in, old people beg, still clean and proud, outside the supermarket, proud, yes, but still more or less ruined. And then there are unkempt gardens that fall into ruin when summer crawls to the burnt out embers of  its heat.

When I came back from my week’s creative retreat in KIRA, our garden lay in ruins. The hollyhock still stood, but it was on its last legs, drying up. It didn’t imitate the dead sticks of the yucca plant, four flowers this year, nor the dried up foliage of summer flowers. Nevertheless, wind and rain have now brought him close to his end, poor thing. I want to remember him in all his glory. I want to see beyond this bent, withered stick of a plant that slowly bows its head to look down at its roots. My hollyhock, please, in all his glory!


All our glories! I too am in decay and falling into ruin. I dug out an old photo of myself. Bristol University, 1964, running for the First Cross-Country VIII on the Bristol – Weston road relay. Hugh Arnold was just handing off to me and I was setting out on my 5 mile leg of the race. Young, fit, no grey hairs, no wrinkles, no limp, no stoop: it was a five mile leg that I would complete in about 25 minutes. Alas, slow is me: it takes me that long now to walk 400 metres. And I need rests and a stick to help me on my way.

Standing amidst he ruins of my life, yes. But I stand proud, my head held as high as I can hold it. I can honestly say I have done my best. And what more can anyone do? Athletics, rugby, coaching, research, publishing, teaching, facilitating workshops and retreats, travelling, editing, creative writing … it has been a crazy life, packed with fun and adventure and no, I do not regret a moment of it.

Come to think of it, unlike many people, I have actually lived many lives. My first took place in Britain and Europe. Then in September, 1966, I was reborn as a Canadian. Each subsequent Fall, at the beginning of September, as each new academic year began and the year’s cycle turned round to freshness and intellectual renewal, I was born again. Teaching, coaching, working with young people: what wonderful things to do. Now, I look at the ruined garden and remember the joys of summer. They will return. My hollyhock will also be back. He has sown his seeds throughout the flowerbeds and sooner or later he will return. I too have sown seeds: the seeds of joy, knowledge, learning, creativity. I too will live on in the many virtual children whose minds I have inhabited and helped to shape.  Winter is drawing near. The cold and the dark encroach: but, like my garden, I will be back.

6 thoughts on “Ruins

  1. You have such a wonderful way with words Roger. Some ruins will never be re-born but the beauty of our surroundings, of our memories will always be with us, ruined perhaps for a short season but to come full face once more. Excuse me now while I go read this again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Allan. I always visit Tintern Abbey when I am home. A Cistercian Abbey destroyed by Henry 8th. It is in the most tranquil and beautiful of surroundings. The coach tours come in, wait for the regulation thirty minutes, then head out again. In between the sudden spurts of visitor noise peace and tranquility rule among water-sounds and bird-song. A true place of peace. I asked my daughter where she wanted to go next (after Tintern) and she replied: “Who wants to go anywhere? It’s so beautiful here.”


    • Thanks, Fran. I have so much to say and I am really enjoying my writing at the moment. I am trying to keep the best stuff away from the Blog and Facebook as social media counts as a publication and I want to save it for better things. I am having great fun experimenting with creativity: words and paintings. Still sad to see garden fade, though. Autumn / Fall is a glorious blaze of color, then it fades, and we sit back and wait for the snow.


    • Thanks, Shane. Rebirth is the big thing: not to go down too far and to spring back up when you / I do. The Maple trees are glorious now, all the colors of the summer garden, and more. Alas, it is raining today: one sharp frost and a strong wind afterwards and all that beauty will be gone … until next year.


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