I wonder sometimes about my darling man, who has been deemed "The most stylish man on any red carpet" by an award-winning filmmaker, ripped out of the chic-est part of Shoreditch and dumped into a muddy episode of "The Archers." His smiling face at Terminal 5 arrivals yesterday made my little heart soar (the highlight of the flight was a dip into Henry James' "The Bostonians") but no sooner were we in the car than we were alerted that the lovely little mare #bellabellabella was colicking. Poor uncomfortable girlie, kicking at her tummy, swishing her tail, zig-zagging her stable, pawing at the straw, seemed perhaps a little happy to see us, and was very good and sweet when the kind Spanish vet shoved half her arm up her bum. Darling man stood by bravely, asking good questions. "Does this have anything to do with her itchy udders?" I asked the vet. "I'm sorry. I haven't had a mare before." "I didn't know horses have udders" said DM.
My father frowned on people who were brought up in the City. He didn't trust them one iota. Now that I've been a city girl for more than half of my existence, I find myself happily transitioning from one to another. DM is extremely happy here in our little cottage, beset by mice and rain and a rambling, overgrown garden. ("We really must do some gardening this weekend" he says). But sometimes I think he feels like the French Bulldog, who blinks bravely when I take her out in the rain, the faintest hint of a question on her face. Are you sure you want to go out in this? And then boldly galloping across the cricket pitch, splattering mud in her wake.
The characters are rich and evergreen. The gossip is ripe. Our challenges manifold. "The Beast from the East made life up in the Hilltop Villages very uncomfortable, however IT made it possible to pin-point the worst affected areas. Thank you to everyone who offered advice on which roads were open..." - Letter from the County Council
Oh, we soldier on.
As the weather remains precipitous, I've put out suet and seed balls for the little birds. DM discovered that a very pretty little Blue Tit is nesting on the window ledge of our office, all blue and yellow for Easter. The dogs believe that the lard balls are a test of their ingenuity; I've witnessed Bean, the spotted dog reaching up onto the bird table and pushing one off onto the ground for her own pleasure. This morning, the crows are squawking blue murder as they huddle the hazel bush for the bird food hidden there. With the extra evening light, everyone is feeling more animated. People smile as they walk. The wild garlic is everywhere. The horses are losing their winter coats.
It turns out that Bella the mare isn't colicking but her girly parts are not functioning as they should and so she is irritable and uncomfortable. Girl, I get it! The vet suggests kindly that she go on the pill. "It happens in older mares," he says. And I nod my head sagely.
I've been writing about expanding and contracting, like the universe. I think we do it to protect ourselves. Fear makes us contract and turn inward. Love expands us, makes us push out further and further, taking on everything. Today, I'm contracted. Lack of sleep has added to this. Four full hours of wakefulness in the middle of the night, enough to see the West Coast go to bed and the Europeans wake up. I'm berating myself for not reading enough, for the inability to write more every day, for being all over the place, and apparently, now, for being bossy. My friend told me this at lunch yesterday as if it were a good thing. I'm not sure what to do with it. I'm not sure why she said it. I'm not sure what it means or why I dislike it as a word. "I'm assertive" I say, assertively. The dictionary says that bossy is "fond of giving people orders, domineering." I don't think of myself this way. I suppose it's one more thing to think worry about.
Perhaps it's cultural. Being assertive, tough, ballsy are all very American traits and I suppose I am an American now (separate from the fact that I listen to NPR all day long, have a subscription to the New Yorker, refuse to call it TK Maxx and favor color.) Perhaps the lack of sleep is making me too sensitive. Who knows?