What a tremendous blog existed in my head this morning, as I cleaned my teeth. The brushing of the teeth, I have found, is a most excellent aid to thought. I often write blogs or articles or even entire chapters of books in my head in those meditative minutes. I cannot tell you the coruscating nature of the material. I sometimes blush at my own brilliance.
Then I go out into real life and it all dissipates like water on glass. Either I forget entirely, and only a blank space is left behind. Or I do remember, sit down in flushed triumph to write the immortal words, only to find that what was so dazzling in my frontal cortex is prosaic and dowdy on the page. The gap between thought and fingers is one of the enduring mysteries of the writing life.
I frown and chew my lip and chase the errant thoughts round my head. What was that marvellous ontological observation that was going to keep you rapt? Absolutely no idea. I screw up my face in frustration. I so wanted to give you something good today, after you so kindly put up with my yesterday’s wail.
There is a silence. I can hear the dog breathing, and the distant cooing of pigeons. I sit up, surprised. The pigeons are back? That is the sound of spring, yet it is only January the 8th. Oddly, I have been thinking about spring quite a lot in the last week. The afternoons are drawing out; we are no longer in the pitch dark at half past three. Tiny shoots of new grass, of a most vivid and unlikely green, are starting to appear in the horses’ paddock. I stare at the verdant clumps for minutes at a time, quite enchanted, as if someone had presented me with a bunch of flowers.
We have a long way to go yet. We have February to get through, which up here can be the cruellest month, leaving April for dead, whatever TS might have to say about it. But it’s like a line I heard in a film once, I can’t remember which one. It went something like:
‘Is there love?’
‘No, but there is the dream of love.’
Here, in the north-east of Scotland, there is the dream of spring.
That’s not what I set out to write today at all. It was not what I contemplated in my morning hour. But as I write that sentence I sigh and smile. Yes, I think: a dream of spring. That’s not such a dusty thing for a cloudy Scottish Tuesday. That will do.
After I wrote this, I went down to the horses, where Autumn the Filly was receiving her weekly desensitising training from The Brilliant Woman. It’s always fascinating to watch, and a happy little crowd gathered. I groomed my mare, and the thick, amber northern sun came out, the one that astonished me so when I first came from the south. It is an ancient light, like the light I imagine of old Italy. It, too, had the promise of balmier days in it, and the horses mooched and relaxed as they felt its tender warmth on their backs.
Then I got back to the garden, which is rather windblown and neglected and assailed with old leaves, and suddenly, I saw hopeful green everywhere. I must not get ahead of myself, but it felt like a bit of a sign:
Autumn the Filly, very pleased with herself after her good work:
This is Red’s IS THAT MY TEA face:
She gets quite duchessy and over-excited when her food arrives, so I am teaching her to settle and wait for it. There will be no pushiness at feeding time, not in my herd. This is her faintly resigned, if you say so face:
STANLEY THE DOG HAS A STICK:
It goes into capitals because it occasions high excitement. He likes hurling the thing in the air and then pouncing on it:
And then looks a little put-upon as I stop the game and make him sit and stay:
What a martinet I am.
The blue hill: