A shift in the seasons

The season is shifting. The daytime warmth is now an uncomfortable, sticky heat and we start to yearn for the rains.  The cool mornings have started to warm a little, but not as much as the seasonal usual.  And not enough to nurture the budding mangoes.  I fear a poor mango season is ahead.

On my way to work the other morning, I stopped near the traffic lights as usual to buy strings of threaded jasmine blossom.  The regular seller handed me my strings, and as I moved forward I lifted them to my face without thinking, breathing in the sweet scent. He ran back towards me, proffering a small blossom of the newly flowering tree, known as the university blossoms, the Myanmar word sounding to me like “gangkaw”. “It smells good” he told me in Myanmar, and gave me the stem to take with me before disappearing into the traffic again to sell his flowers.  These moments warm my soul, and brighten my outlook.  Especially when my personal outlook is clouded by the next rounds of scans and checks, which will be upon me before the month is out. I try and put these thoughts to the side, hiding them in the heady, heavy sweetness of the flowers watching over me.

yangon gangkohThe sight of the flower on my desk throughout the day brought many remarks and smiles. I learned that there are many of these blossoms on trees flowering at the university. The flower is associated with students, learning, summer, graduation and the forthcoming Thingyan Water Festival. As the season shifts, there are signs all around. The first glimpses of jacaranda, plastic padauk flowers for sale and the proliferation of the Gangkaw flowers with their sweet, heavy scent.

The shadow of the Gangaw flower falling on the girl's face

The shadow of the Gangaw flower falling on the girl’s face

It is hard to imagine that on this day a year ago, I arrived in Scotland and was greeted by perishing temperatures and snow. But as the season shifts here, those signs are visible across the globe too.  The stretching of the daylight hours in Scotland, and the appearance of snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils all heralding the coming spring.

Therefore, I have chosen to change my background image, to one of the Island of Lismore, Scotland which was actually taken a a few years ago when I spent a number of weeks there in my father’s home early that year.

Lismore, Scotland as spring approaches

Lismore, Scotland as spring approaches

No matter where we are on the planet, time moves forward and we should choose carefully those precious images and memories which we want to take with us.

From the recovery zone

The Dubai bruises are fading and so is the memory of radiation and chemo. 

We arrived safely on the tiny, remote Scottish island of Lismore where we are based for the next week.  It is quiet, restful, peaceful, healing and a tad cold!  We have had mostly good weather though, with sunny, fresh days and not too much wind and rain.

I am managing to walk a few gentle miles most days though twang arm is playing up still.  I am anxious to get back into the pool in a couple of weeks time.  My radiation-burnt skin is recovering and peeling in a rather disgusting fashion.  For some reasons the nails on both big toes have bruised and are very tender which I cannot understand.  Tamoxifen seems to be making me a bit maudlin which I also do not understand.  My hair is growing irregularly and in the wrong colour.

We have virtually no access to internet or mobile phone on the island so it is truly remote and peaceful.  We have ventured onto the mainland today for essential supplies and communication!  I also finally took the step of walking over the threshold into a hairdresser to do something with my mad professor hair.  It has now been evened up nicely – with the clippers!

We have another week on the island before heading off to other parts of the UK to connect with family and friends around the country. The following week we will return to Bangkok and radiation review with Dr C, and then hopefully return to Yangon.  So this haven of peace and healing is very welcome just now.