… especially when it is as a good a day as the one of which I write. I woke to that softness in the air which has nothing to do with humidity. I noticed this particularly because the day before – weighed down by air pressure and sullen damp, surrounded by traffic and entirely too many people (never mind plastic, what about birth control ?) – I had tried to look for trainers in the West End. Pass.
Increasingly confused and cross, I had got into a bus (nobody opens bus windows any more) – and even that was on diversion, so that a twenty minute journey took three times as long. Drivers must find such shifts interminable and I feel sorry for them. But mostly I felt sorry for myself. Taught as a small child “pigs perspire, horses sweat and ladies glow”, that makes me a horse. I came home cross, overheated and Not Nice To Know.
But the day following had moved on, hardly summer but trying hard. So I bought the papers, stripped my bed and put on a load of washing which – the cheapest pleasure I know – blew dry through the day on the line – and even in garbage central, that still smells better than any fabric conditioner ever invented.
Inspired, I overhauled the two under the stairs cupboards (respectively the pantry and the gloryhole) which are my main storage. And of course I found things to part with, either to the charity shop or the bin, and somewhere under the heading of “you never know when you might use it again” – I retrieved from a box masquerading as DIY, a brush with a handle and instead of bristles, harsh metal threads, probably for paint removal. I looked at it thoughtfully and took it out into the paved garden where I experimentally drew it with force along the weed cluttered space in between the cherished herringbone bricks . Bingo.
I usually clear out the weeds with a pointed roughly leaf shaped implement from SE Asia which works well but is noisy and more tiring. This was much easier and more rewarding and it improved the moss on the bricks themselves so in three goes, I did the whole garden. Swept, garnished and rinsed, it looked a great deal better..
Trusting one of the more sensible weather broadcasters, I finally said au revoir to the winterweight bed linen. I don’t know whether I feel the cold more at night as I get older, but I don’t want to wake up chilled. I can’t say more than “so long “ because I know I shall have recourse to it again and this is the year that I have admitted to myself that I prefer autumn and winter.
As a younger person I loved the summer and of course there are days in any season and any weather which are just delight – because of who you meet or what you do or the air or the light. I have long known that I love autumn because of the colours and find spring a cheating thing, because just when I think it has warmed up, it goes cold again and I worry about all the young things in the cold air but it was not until this year that I admitted to myself that I like everything about winter. I know what to wear and what to eat, I like the shape of the days,
I like dusk and the darkness settling, the dark lingering in the morning before the day wakes up. It’s really odd too that I should come to this conclusion in a year when I had months of a heavy cold and not being well. The two things seem quite separate in my mind.
But with two or three days in a row of coherent warmth, I know I shall want to call the window cleaner (no point when it rains every five minutes) and in due course, take down all the books to dust and resettle and let a few more go, one of the things I do well is choose what to keep and what to relinquish.
And although I know that the sense of security in my small home and its beauties is a fragile thing, it is enough and I am grateful.
I loved this piece and I wish you were on the radio or tv again. I miss you. You kept me company on many a dark day.