I think again about choices. It’s pouring with dreary old rain; the sky is like dirty washing-up water. Even Scotland’s great beauty cannot survive this weather. The place looks defeated and drowned. The field is muddy and filthy and its usual feeling of hidden magic is muted.
I could fight the rain. I could hunch my shoulders and get furious and moan about the horrid Scottish summer. We quite often have summers like this – relentless wet and a paltry ten degrees. Spring and autumn are the seasons of sunshine and beauty. I never understand why people come to Scotland in August; it is our cruellest month.
Even though I know this, I could let it infuriate me. I could think of all those happy people in the south, who have brightness and lightness and reasonable temperatures.
On some days, I do. Today, as I run up and down to the mare to put the rug on, take it off, and then return to put it on again, I decide I am going to take the second choice. I’m going to accept the rain. I’m going to embrace the rain. I put my hat on and make my peace with the fact that I am going to get wet, and that I shall be slightly damp for the rest of the day.
Even as I write that, I laugh to myself. Slightly damp really isn’t the end of the world, is it? If you asked yourself – What is the worst thing that can happen? – and the answer came that you might get slightly damp, you really would think that you could deal with that. In a world of problems, that is a very, very small glitch.
Slightly damp is a killer when it goes along with an existential chorus of other damps. If the sorrows are coming not in single spies but in battalions, and then it rains on top of all that, it can seem as if nothing will ever come to any good. It is a temporal stamp on the passport of despair. Everything has gone to hell, and even the weather is against you.
Today, I’m not doing cartwheels, but I’m not down-hearted. The rain and I are old friends. It is what makes the grass grow and the trees thrive. I would not be without it.
The mare, catching my mood, lifts her head and gives an enchanting whicker, as I go down to put her raincoat back on. Sometimes, when the weather comes, she shuts down and goes into bare-bones survival mode. In that mood, she has little use for humans. I am merely the bringer of hay and the putter-on of rugs. Today, however, she is light and bright. She is pleased to see me. She rests her head on my chest and lets me scratch her sweet spots. I chat to her for a while and she blinks her eyes. When I go to leave, she follows me, so I return and give her some more love. It’s just rain, she says; I’m still here.
PS. Particularly lovely comments yesterday. Thank you so much for them. My secret wish is that, at least once a week, this blog might prove useful. I sometimes laugh at myself for this, and think it grandiose. Sometimes I say to myself: you don’t have to tell them everything. Take a step back, I say; make it light and objective and not so searching and serious. Protect yourself, I say, because revelation makes you vulnerable. But the part that wishes to be useful knows that revelation does the trick, because I think that humans crave communion and connection. Every time a Dear Reader says ‘I’m so glad I’m not the only one’, I feel as if a light has gone on or a happy klaxon has sounded. Conversation is always better if it has an ounce of confession in it. One can build the castle walls and hide behind them and that’s fine, but I think that it is better to take a risk, to lower the drawbridge and come out into the open. Here I am, with all my frailties and flaws, and there you are, too.
PPS. I’m doing a new thing with the pictures, putting them into the post rather than leaving them until the end. Can’t work out if this is better, or worse. Today’s pictures are obviously not of today, because it was too wet for the camera. They are of sunnier times.