I had something good and big for you today. It was a whole human condition thing.
Then the day happened, and life happened, and work happened, and I now have absolutely no idea what it was.
I sometimes teach writing workshops, and one of the things I always tell my students is: carry a notebook with you wherever you go. Have one in the car and by the bed and in your pocket. That brilliant idea, glimmering with promise, will slip away down a back alley if you do not write it down.
Part of the reason I write this blog is because of the voices in my head which yell: write it down, write it down. The older I get, the more I think it is the small things which are important. It is not just the big, gleaming ideas which will get lost; it is the memory of the minuscule things which make a day joyful. I love to record these tiny events, these fleeting, precious moments, so I can look back and sigh and smile and say: yes, yes.
My sweetest of the small things today was, literally, small. The tiniest of the relations appeared, with her smiling mother, to see the red mare. The small relation, the youngest of the great-nieces, was wearing spanking smart gumboots, and rocking a gold sequinned skirt. It was a fabulous look.
‘Are you going somewhere special after this?’ I asked, gazing at the outfit.
‘No,’ said the smiling mother. ‘We just felt like the gold skirt.’
There is something wonderfully kick-up-your-heels about that. Why not damn well wear a gold skirt on an ordinary Monday?
The four of us set off for a walk around the block. The red mare was, as usual, entranced by a creature so tiny, and was at her gentlest and softest. We stopped on the bridge to play Pooh sticks, with the small person trotting joyously back and forth to see her sticks, and the mare delicately sticking her head out over the burn to observe the progress.
When I was young and foolish and certain about everything, I used to be rather jaded about family. Blood was not thicker, I thought. There were friends and interests and an entire globe, teeming with life. I was a citizen of the world. Family seemed rather stuffy and old-hat, and I hated the emphasis on family values with which the government of the day was so obsessed, as if everything else was second-rate and not valuable at all. I would slip the surly bonds and make a new kind of family, out of two sticks and some binder twine.
Now I think that family is a cornerstone. I adore it and appreciate it. Mine is not a neat, meat and potatoes affair. It is diffuse and complex and various. It would not fit nicely on a poster. But oh, oh, the love. And that is all that counts.
Horse Talker, World Traveller and the smallest relation, with the red mare doing her dopiest dozy donkey face:
Gathering the sticks:
There they go, off to the sea:
The mare had slightly lost interest by this stage, so I let her have a pick in the long grass:
You do see what I mean about the outfit. The other particularly lovely thing about this small person is that she thinks the world is a perfectly splendid place. That smile has been a fairly permanent fixture, since she was a very small baby: