I am back to my other project. Two hundred and thirty-five pages have been edited this week. I am still not being strict enough about killing the darlings, and need to go back again and be more bloody. I sharpen my mental knives.
In the world, the gales have dropped and the sun has come out and the horses are calm and settled, growing their teddy bear coats for winter. The vet comes to give the flu shots and smiles and says: ‘They look well. Very happy and relaxed.’ I beam, as if a teacher has given me 100% in a test. My stepsister and her family arrive from the south. I ride the red mare up to see them and they stroke her and give her apples. She takes the deliciousness with polite, delicate gestures. We don’t feed by hand usually, but still she knows how to be courteous when the rarity is offered.
The Stepsister and I stand on my mother’s steps and talk, about life and love and children and dogs. The mare drops her head and dozes, listening to the human voices, her ears occasionally flicking, still as a statue. I break off from the conversation, suddenly overcome with pride. ‘When she is like this,’ I say, ‘I think of her as my Zen meditation, the only thing that shuts off the monkey mind.’
The Stepsister observes the mare keenly. ‘But she is always like this,’ she says, her voice bright and admiring. Another 100%. I practically fall off, I am so delighted.
We ride back down the avenue with no irons and no reins. Must deepen my seat, I think, remembering how I was taught that as a child, going over the cavalettis with my arms crossed, although in this case the no irons and no reins is more of a jubilee – look at this amazing creature, who can carry herself kindly with no steering. The mare, as if she has set her inner radar, navigates a true line. I rub her withers and tell her how brilliant and clever and good she is. I think again, for the thousandth time, how lucky I am to have her, and how much a part of her I feel, and how transformative she is.
I plan the weekend. It is going to be a working weekend. That is fine. Work is good. It is hard at the moment, because I must be ruthless and ruthlessness is not one of my talents, but I also take pleasure in it. I look forward to getting to my desk and putting my flinty thinking cap on.
I think: I’m a bit scruffy and a bit muddly and a bit disorganised. All the logistics I was supposed to do this week have not been done. The To Do list remains fairly unticked. But the leaves are turning, and the baby beeches down by the horses’ paddock gleam as bright as lollipops, and Stan the Man is having a fine time finding tremendous sticks that fell from the trees in the big gale, and my family is gathered, and oh, that red mare is at her crest and peak of goodness and beauty. And she got five stars from the vet.
It’s a very small life. I like that it is small. It’s writing and thinking and riding and walking and making my mother eggs for breakfast. There are no headlines in it. But this week was a good week, I think, after all that. It’s not a bad thing to be able to write.
Are actually from today, for once.
Stan the Man had what I believe the very young people call a play date, as some of his friends arrived in the set-aside. In the background you can see two dozy girls, clearly thinking – what are the humans doing with those silly dogs when they could be gazing at lovely us?:
Stanley the Manly adores this very girly girl:
The whole pack:
The sweet, gentle face of Autumn the Filly:
Red, with her best background. I love that she matches the leaves:
About to go for our sweet ride. Oh, those crazy thoroughbreds, with their temperaments: