The First Day of Spring

Posted on 21 March 2011

It’s early morning and I’m sitting in the LeClerc cafe writing in my journal. (I can’t remember the last time I did this.) All the other tables are filled with groups of men drinking small espressos except for one man who has a glass of white wine in front of him. I feel someone looking over my shoulder and turn to see Ruth who asks if I’m writing a blog. “It’s been two weeks,” she reprimands me.

I’ve been busy. The days pass quickly and I am always doing one thing or another. Last week I forced myself to return to editing a mother biography. I also helped my mother with tech support nearly every day and plan a trip to Northern Ireland for a cousin’s wedding. (I’ll join her at Heathrow.) I created a book for a favourite aunt’s 80th birthday. And I hired a woman to help me spring-clean the rental house I’m looking after. It was spotless by the time the renters arrived Saturday afternoon. They telephoned from the house, spoke to Rob, and said it didn’t work for them. No other explanation. It was a dark gloomy day and even our lovely village can look old and worn when the sun isn’t shining so I assume that the house was too dark and, lacking central heating, perhaps too cold (though I did have three electric heaters going.) I feel bad for the owners who spent a lot of money this year, on my advice, replacing threadbare sheets and towels, and adding bits and pieces of furniture.

Too bad the renters didn’t arrive Sunday. The temperature shot up and the fields surrounding the village were a brilliant green. Everything shone. Having been shut in for too many days, I agreed to go for a walk with Rob and Fanny.

Now when I take a walk, I don’t think “workout”, I think of a half hour stroll down a hill and back again on a paved road. Fanny had other ideas. She walked us way, way down the valley and up a hill, turned off into a dirt/slightly grassed path that became muddier and wetter the further we went, past a fenced yard of howling dogs (unhappily one was loose), and then up another steep hill back home. I’d say the whole jaunt took a hour and a half. I was feeling very very gumpy by the time we reached home. I wish I weren’t such a city girl – I can walk around Paris all day and not complain – but unlike Rob and Fanny and Gill, I get little pleasure from long hikes.

There’s a great essay by Max Beerbohm called “Going for a Walk” in which he says “Walking for walking’s sake may be as highly laudable and exemplary a thing as it is held to be by those who practise it. My objection to it is that it stops the brain.” If anyone feels like Max and I do and prefers to be curled up in an easychair reading, you can read the whole essay by clicking on the link above. (It’s also a superb example of a personal essay.)

Speaking of reading, I’m on a new adventure. Brendan lent me his ipad to see if it works for me as a travelling companion instead of my computer, and I love it – especially ibooks. I also downloaded the kindle app and so can receive a book in seconds for less than I’d pay for a real book with no waiting. I didn’t think I’d like reading on a screen but I forget most of the time I am holding a mini-computer and reach to turn the page. I can also read in bed without a light without disturbing Rob.

The first book I received (for free) and read was “Pride and Prejudice.” I was only going to read a few pages to see what it felt like but I couldn’t stop. I’d forgotten what a great story it is and the number of great lines, such as “You expect me to account for opinions which you choose to call mine, but which I have never acknowledged.”

In the frivolous department, I have done two things. 1. I watched the movie “Tangled” on a friend’s advice and loved it. (Thank you, Ursula. The dialogue at times was brilliant, and I did feel like dancing.) 2. I had my hair cut and streaked. At last. I’ve been feeling kind of ugly for two months.

It isn’t easy getting old. A week tomorrow I will be 62 years old.


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