Of quinces and memories and my uncle

I drove from Greenhills to my parents’ home in New Plymouth a few days ago, pausing at my uncle’s place to collect some quinces. My uncle’s tree is recently planted, as these things go, and in its third year, it has given 30 pieces of gold. He gave me eight to take to my mother. Their fragrance is mellow; they smell of autumn and golden.

Eight golden quinces on a green platter

My uncle is a man who notices things, with quiet rejoicing. He listens for the first shining cuckoo each year, and sees where the clematis is blooming in spring. He tracks the growth of trees, and smiles when he hears the riroriro singing in the gully behind his home. He makes me think of Thomas Hardy’s poem, “Afterwards“, but more especially of Harvey McQueen’s lovely poem, “Thomas Hardy“.

I notice how finches delicately
bend the dandelion stalks to get at the seeds.

I notice how the cat sniffs the air
before she ventures outside….

I first read Harvey’s poem when I attended his memorial service in January, and I’ve read it often since, thinking of Harvey, who noticed things. I think he would have rejoiced in these golden quinces too. I’ve missed reading his blog this year, hearing his voice and sharing in his noticings. He made me stop and look again at the small beauties, and the large ones, as the seasons turn again.

As does my uncle. I don’t think he writes poetry, but I do know that he too, is a man who notices things, and reminds me to notice in my turn.

If you haven’t read Harvey’s poem, it’s on-line at his blog, Stoatspring – “Thomas Hardy“.


3 comments on “Of quinces and memories and my uncle

  1. Lucy Sussex says:

    I knew a man to whom quinces were anathema, because they were all the nuns served for dessert at his convent school. He led a revolt against the quinces, and was expelled for punching the head nun. He later became transgendered. I watched him tell this story once, and saw the listener silently twig that the man she was talking to had once been a little girl. Rest in Peace David, lord of the quince revolt.

  2. david winter says:

    I never knew about Harvey’s blog, but I heard him interviewed on National Radio last year (this program I guess). I distinctly remember sitting in the car in the garage and listening because I’d made it home but didn’t want to leave the car and miss the rest of the interview. He read this poem, and, counting myself as someone who notices things, it really stuck with me, so I was surprised (and happy, and sad) to read it here.

    (Oh, and my partner made quince jam last weekend, so our house has been filled with that same smell recently.)

  3. robertguyton says:

    Every garden/orchard must have quinces. They’re quintessential.

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