I've managed somehow to keep the dogs out of my bed, which is a miracle in and of itself. Thistle still quizzes me, her brow furrowed, her huge brown eyes imploring me to invite her up. Some days, the particularly grey ones, I'm tempted to break my own rules. They seem to be enjoying their new life -- a brisk walk before breakfast, a longer walk before lunch, exploring the highways and byways of Buckinghamshire, one footpath at a time. Thistle has already been introduced to sheep (an experience that now makes me reach for the lead at the most distant of baas) and Bean thinks big, wet, grassy meadows are the most fun to charge about in.
And so it is for me, getting used to this new way of living. Routine is important. Breathing in fresh air is important. Walking is important. And making sure that work is a priority. I know I can't have it both ways, and as I have a penchant for making things as difficult as they can be, I have to work my arse off to make sure I'm still ahead of the game, even if I'm batting from the Chilterns. I'm determined to be better, stronger, smarter and to not give in to the overwhelming feeling that I've carved out too hard of a row. With my lovely man at a festival, and my children not by my side, and most of my girlfriends in Los Angeles, living in a village without a shop, it can get quite lonely. I don't have a television by design, but I do see why mindless viewing on cold evenings can be soothing. The nicest part is that my mama is near enough to drop by for lentil soup and dates and cheese for lunch, and that can't be beaten.
What is it about maps that helps you find your place in the world? I love to unfold mine and lay it out on the desk and look at the footpaths that lace through the Chilterns. There are footpaths everywhere. We walk in increasingly intricate squares, big loops that bring us home two hours later, discovering new hamlets: Braziers End, Bellingdon, Heath End, Asheridge, Buckland Common, Hawridge Common, Oak Road, Bottom Road, Rays Hill, Grims Ditch. Walking has become my sanity, my worship, my saviour. If it's below freezing, the dogs wear their coats. If not, they brave it. I think there are secrets in the paths, things that will be revealed to me if I study them well enough. I have to be a student of the new land I'm in. I'm open. I'm trying to be open. (Hello to the big brown buzzard who sits in the oak tree outside my kitchen window and stares me down. Yes, I know you're trying to give me a message. I'm just not tuned in enough yet to know what it is. But, my, you're magnificent.)
I didn't sleep last night. I bathed at 2 in the morning, thinking the hot water would help me sleep, but still sleep eluded me. And the mornings after not sleeping are bleak. Man, are they bleak! I spent a lot of energy today telling myself not to react to anything, to wait a day to weigh things up.
There is sobriety and fastidious attention to detail. Every penny must count. There is enough beauty to make up for the things you buy to create a happy balm. I am trying to be frugal, to settle in, to avoid being impetuous. I wanted to get a horse, but I am making myself wait until it feels doable. (This makes me sad, to be honest: I found a lovely mare but I'm going to have to walk away from her.) This is being a grown up, I think. Purge. Nest. Be meticulous. Do your work well. Be kind.