Posted by Tania Kindersley.
More family are arriving. There is the older brother with his other half. (So wish I could think of a better word for it; girlfriend just sounds stupid when you are over fifty; partner is too corporate; lady is horrid. There is no good solution. So I say 'other half' with heavy irony, which I hope you can sense, through the ether.) Also, there is the dear ex-brother-in-law, who is still part of the family on account of his being the father of the older niece. I have known him for thirty years, and I do not think I have ever seen him without a smile on his face.
Today, I have been thinking about the trees. We have very long winters up here; some trees will not put out a hint of a leaf until the end of May. When it is all bosky in the south, we are still brown and bleak. But at the moment I am slightly obsessed with the stark beauty of the empty branches. I actually looked at some of the trees today and thought I shall be sad when they are carnivals of green; I thought there will be something rather blowsy and vulgar about it, after this glorious pared-down loveliness.
Then, just as I was putting the photographs on the computer, a programme came on Radio Four by the excellent poet Owen Sheers. He was attending a ceremony for the cutting of mistletoe. What are you doing now? he asked the special mistletoe people. We are honouring the trees, they said.
Yes, yes, I thought. I too am honouring the trees. It goes along with my theme this week of watching for the beauty and taking notice of the small things. When I have had too many cups of coffee, I am tempted to nominate myself the Queen of the Little Things. (Sometimes I really do wonder at what I admit to you.)
Anyway, it was a charming little piece of serendipity. And here are the lovely trees, in all their mighty honour:
And the hill, just now, with the evening mist descending:
I feel very lucky that I live in a place where there are such beautiful and various trees.
Another of the things that I have never taken for granted is the fact that I have glorious cold Scottish water, straight off the mountain, roaring out of my taps. I have had a thing about water for a long time; I think a lot about those people who have to walk for miles each morning to get water, and carry it home in pots and buckets. Everyone has their funny little tic, and the realisation that running water is a great luxury is mine. (I also bless my opposable thumbs, most mornings, as I do up buttons.)
Usually, it is the people of impoverished African countries that I think of, when the water is in my mind. But today, it is the citizens of Northern Ireland who have had no water for the last ten days, and look as if they will have to wait another week. Imagine trying to get through the tests and tensions of the holiday season with no water. No baths, no lavs, nothing with which to wash the clothes and the dishes and the pots and pans. Making a cup of tea becomes an obstacle course. Dear old Scotland is sending thousands of litres of bottled water, but that is not going to get anyone very far. If I am tempted to get grumpy over the next couple of days (New Year does not always bring out the best in me; all that forced jollity) I shall think of the people of Northern Ireland.
Oh my goodness, almost forgot daily dog picture. I suspect I would get mighty objections from certain readers should I not give you these: