One day I’m feeling like a snail. Everything is heavy and troublesome and there’s a lot of can’t be bothereds hanging around the house. It’s nothing to do with weather or the daily round or because there’s nothing in particular to look forward to. I just wake up with it and it gets dressed with me and follows me downstairs. I can feel it on skin, taste it in my mouth and, although I can and do distance myself from it by refusing to engage with it, or even mention it, it won’t sleep till I do.
The next is completely different. I follow the same basic routine. I’m not going to meet anyone for lunch, or to browse the shops or to have my legs waxed. Nothing exciting at all, in fact, and yet everything is. Today, it’s fun to plan – what to cook for supper, whether to walk now or later, or both, which radio station to tune into. The cobwebs of yesterday, that hung like black reproaches between everything that doesn’t move, are all but invisible, and I didn’t move them.
When I walk, I almost dance along. The flies still bazz about my face, but I don’t mind them. I notice the trunks of the ash trees and think they look like giraffe necks with their polka dots of lichen. Yesterday I wouldn’t have seen that at all. Yesterday, they were just the same old trees.
Down on the shore I watch the flood tide rising ever so slowly, the meniscus line curving against the black basalt, trembling in resistance until the force of salt water behind it is too great, and I can hear it sigh in defeat, as it lifts another centimetre or two. Then is does it all over again and will until the sea spills onto the land, claiming it for herself. For another six hours, these shells, these otter-crunched mussels, last nights goose droppings and these bunches of thrift, now past their bloom, will disappear. The sun-dried sea-weed will fill again with water, whereas now I can turn them to powder between my fingers.
I haul a broken ash limb to the side of the track, and stop to wonder why it suddenly parted from the trunk when there was no storm to tear it away. I follow the tracks of the night creatures, the deer, and a calf by the looks of those little light hoof prints. I watch the triangular bees (they’re not bees, but they are definitely triangular) dip their long tongues into the vibrant purple blooms of the wild thyme. I look up to watch as a group of noisy Shell Duck run all the way along the surface of the sea loch, their feet barely touching the water. Where the loch widens, they sink into a gentle swim and grow silent. Above the high water line, marked by deep deposits of blackened kelp, seeds of gorse pop like corn and, somewhere behind me, a bird dashes a snail against a stone until the shell finally breaks. A small fishing boat speeds in through the narrows after a fishing trip and, as the men sort the catch, a bicker of gulls dive and swoop for the scraps, upsetting the water, until all is gone and the sea lies down flat once more.
All is still again.
As I wander home, I can make no sense of the difference a day makes.