I like wild places and children’s faces. I like paths that narrow and then disappear into trees or over a hill, like a beckoning. I like red wine and black coffee and avocados greened by the sun. I like jackboots and horses crazy running and free. I like snow and sunsets that turn old pine trunks orange. I like quick decisions and slow mindful thoughts, bare feet and spontaneous joy as it lights up a moment. I like classical music and dance beats, flowers in surprising places, people, solitude, soft lighting and comfy armchairs. I like hot baths and icy water from a mountain stream, tomatoes chopped in olive oil and basil, climbing fences and being blasted in the face by a freezing Atlantic wind. I like doorways and sitting on kerbs. I like change, colour, and clouds, and I like finding something when I was looking for something else.
Like that male hen harrier canting on a rising gale, hunting, perfectly balanced. I was lighting the woodburner, looking for kindlers, in a clifftop cottage far out into the mystic, and listening to the punch of a north easterly gathering strength. The sheep were hunkered behind drystone walls and the goldfinches, sparrows and other small feathery tots held fast to the branches of the bent-backed hazels, all talking at once like women in a Glasgow bus shelter. That white magic, his flight, his caring less about me, eyes on the chance of breakfast, took my breath away. In moments, he was gone, sliding through the wind. The day lay ahead. Shall we walk this way or that? Shall we sit and contentedly knit and sew now or later? We could choose whatever we wanted, my best friend and I because we had 6 days of this wild freedom, just us and her dog and the wild things all around us. We could talk for hours without interruption, although the return of the snow white hen harrier would have been a welcome one. We could eat lunch at breakfast. We could move mindfully, laugh uproariously, tell each other secrets and the best way to make lemon cheesecake. We could share tales of children and grandchildren, remember together long past memories of people, places, happenings. We did all of those things as Time decided to move at double speed through the days. And, suddenly, it was over.
I like transitions and dogs, hand-made rugs and chilli jam for breakfast. I like old boats that have turned into skeletons. I like reading and to overcome, cats paws on the water and women who look different to all the rest. I like geese cutting through the sky, cloud dancers and the meniscus of the world as I stare into the distance. I like being woken by the full moon or the soft honk of night-flying swans going somewhere I will never go. I like that Nature carries on, whatever may happen to me. I like sharing and I like friendship.
Although our time was too short, we changed each other just a bit. Every encounter with someone who holds my trust changes me, just a bit. And ‘just a bit’ is a good starting point. All our conversations, from lemon cheesecake to family troubles found a place in the space between us. Carried most carefully back home, she to Englandshire through snow and traffic jams and I, well, to just a few miles away without snow or more than 3 cars (which could never be a jam), our shared time will think us both for a long while. Back to our own lives outside of each other’s, we will remember it all with smiles and contemplation.
I have no plan to make lemon cheesecake, nonetheless.