Minus seven this morning. The water trough is sadly empty, containing nothing but doleful ice crystals. I ferry buckets of hot water back and forth in the car whilst the red mare serenely eats her breakfast. My oldest friend calls from the south and says that it is raining so hard that when she goes out to the car to do the school run it is like someone has emptied a bucket of water over her head. I look up at the limpid blue sky and feel grateful. It might be cold, but it is so beautiful that I need new names for beauty. Then the oldest friend makes me laugh so much that I can’t breathe. She can do this out of nowhere, turning on a sixpence like a London taxi. If I wrote down the actual words she said, you would not laugh at all. It’s all in the timing and the tone. It’s in the thirty years we have been best friends. I laughed and laughed, doubling over, slapping my legs like a character in a cartoon.
The world is very mad at the moment, but that extraordinary human can make me laugh as if everything were bonny and blithe. That sounds like a small thing, but I believe it is a big thing. I think it is a huge thing. I sometimes think it is everything.
I talked to a few friends today. We spoke of politics and children and fear and family life and our own flaws and the songs of Aimee Mann and the Scottish light and dogs and the oddities of the internet and Iceland. They are very good at subjects, the friends. They are always interesting. They make me feel better than I am. This is an absurd gift and they give it, easily, naturally, without asking for anything in return.
I edit ninety pages of a new project. There always must be a new project. My brain stretches and creaks as the dogs doze in the warm house.
The light fades. The sky grows translucent and beckoning, as if it is trying to tell me the secret of the universe. I must go and do the horses, I think. I must put out the hay. The secret of the universe can wait.