Picking My Way Carefully

A return to work, a Sunday spent with that back-to-school feeling sinking deeper into the pit of the stomach that actually proved to be more about the relinquishing of long days of freedom, more than it was about Going Back.

Missing the long walks through fields and woods with my constant companions, so reminding myself to spend at least an hour outside in the evening, pottering, gardening on a micro-scale, barefoot dreaming through the grass. Stretching my toes on the moss. Eating meals in the garden, watching the bees make close acquaintance with the lavender and marigolds.

Trying not to duck as the bats zip overhead in the dusk, performing acrobatics for their insect audience. The sound of seagulls overhead making me homesick for the sea. Antlers as wide as a lover’s outflung arms rising from the middle of a wheat field, just the tip of a stag’s nose sniffing the air. Blue moons and full moons and no moons.

Lazy summer eating, making the most of what’s in season: barbecued cobs of corn, runner beans sliced not quite as finely as my Grandad used to, baby courgettes pan-fried in butter and served on garlic rubbed sourdough toast. Chilled wine making the outside of my glass beaded. Bowls of nectarines, cherries, raspberries. Here come the blackberries in time for autumn porridges.

Reading reading reading, caught in webs of mythology and family legend amidst the tragedy-soaked Balkans: “I married your grandmother in a church, but I would still have married her if her family had asked me to be married by a hodza. … My name, your name, her name. In the end, all you want is someone to long for you when it comes time to put you in the ground.” The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht. Picking my way carefully through Morte d’ Arthur.

Lying awake at night to hear the owls cry, the harvesters rumble in the fields. The horse in the paddock next door wickers in his sleep. Breezes through tree tops sound like the ruffling of aggrieved hens, and a door slams somewhere in the village.

And so to work, reconnect with projects on pause, with the people, with the building. Chasing palely blind spiders from their dim-lit hiding places. Feel the cool of the walls through my shirt as I lean against them.

Making plans for autumn: a trip to the zoo, to the Lowry exhibition, to a folk evening. The literary festival looms large for October, but not as large as the trip to the sea at the end of the month. I can’t put it off any longer – I need salt air, and splashing shallows, and rock pools, and ruined castles by the shore line.

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