The first minute is gone

I can’t remember when it happened but some time ago I stopped having the first minute.

You know the one, when you wake up in the morning and for a few glorious moments all is well and there is nothing abnormal about your world. Then reality bites; your brain has to process how things have changed and you didn’t dream any of it. This lasted well into last year for me but the other day it dawned on me, pardon the pun, that it was gone. Everything has changed and the abnormal has become normal. In hindsight, I cherish having had that for a while. Now, I wake up and this is it. I guess we have to be happy that we do wake up at all.

Sleep patterns have all gone to hell and I’m pleased it’s not just me because I’d be very concerned if I was alone in this. Most nights I can get to sleep easily enough, especially with my sleeping pills, but I wake up in the middle of the night and struggle to get back to sleep. Restlessness, heat, anxiety, all keep me tossing and turning and it’s tempting to take another pill but one is already too many.

This morning, after only a few hours of sleep and a few more of tossing and turning, I heard the birds and decided to just get up. That’s not like me at all, I like my bed and I am not an early riser. But there I was, not even 6am and the dogs were fed and I stood watching the kettle boil. I then had two hours of good productivity [secret project has begun], a load of laundry was done, several tomatoes harvested, tomato plants trimmed of dead leaves, and new seedlings watered in anticipation of being planted.

It’s cooler today so I should start on the preparation of the new vegetable bed but sleep deprivation has hit me like a thunderbolt. At least, I hope that’s all it is because otherwise it’s the Rona – I feel like shit! Nausea, dizziness, stomach not right, sinuses completely blocked, and all at the same time I’m starving but can’t bear the idea of eating. All I want to do is go back to bed but I have a list of errands to run and an important appointment later, not to mention a walk for the dogs.


I wrote the above two weeks ago and forgot it in the draft folder. The first moment is a distant memory and much has happened since – some of it not nice and difficult to process. The Morsels of Gratitude diary has relocated to a more active and simple hand-written notebook, but I will continue to mention some here when this current black mood lifts.

The new vegetable bed was only done yesterday because it’s been too hot. Well composted and cleared of much of the disgusting builders rubble that keeps popping up all over this garden, despite 10 years of digging and soil turning – I’ve lost count of how much I’ve removed, from chunks of concrete to broken 100-year old bricks and pavers. Last night I fell into bed straight from the shower, exhausted from very dirty gardening and aching muscles – a fabulous feeling!

The bed isn’t full yet – tomatoes and basil have been planted, and some bean seeds sowed directly. I’ll plant out butter lettuce soon. There are already two other varieties of lettuce in another part of the garden. The original vegetable section is now a mix of leftover spinach, basil, rocket seeding itself, and some flowers that have seeded themselves and which I’ll allow. There’s one vegetable I cannot recognise and have no recollection of planting. Am watching to see if it develops into something I can identify, and eat.

Left to right: very late-blooming miniature agapanthus in a pot. One March lily (I don’t know what happened to the other bulbs, there should be more). Two varieties of lettuce. The new veggie patch under the spare room window, with dog protection. None of these would’ve existed or flowered if not for lockdown attention.

About Francoise Armour

I run a small touring company (Tours du Cap) at the bottom of Africa, to show visitors the beauty and vibrant culture of the country I have lived in since my parents brought me here from France as a child. I enjoy taking photos and wish I had learnt to do it properly. I enjoy writing but don't do enough of it. I enjoy walking in the mountains that surround me and I marvel over the views and the flowers and the amazing rock formations. I have a small, cute, clever, black dog of indeterminable breed, named Vida, who reminds me regularly that walking and getting out is not only for when tourists want it.

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A note to all accidental visitors:

I am not a photographer and do not claim to have any particular skills whatsoever in that department. I have enormous respect for those who can see the potential in a scene and can create a great photo. Good photography is an art, in my opinion.

I am just a happy snapper, I have no special lenses or accessories, my camera is very simple and it's usually best to leave the setting on auto.

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