"This is how we should start every day," I say as we slosh through the mud on April 10. It's pissing down. There are puddles the size of ponds. The trees are hardly budding. To cheer myself up I sent a Christmas-style email letter to all my Cali girlfriends last night trying not to sound too desperate. "Oh it's lovely here. Refreshing! Great for the complexion!" DM is circumspect. "It's quite wet" he says, as the Frenchie fords another stream. The sky hangs down oppressively. I am beginning to understand the British pre-occupation with the weather.
We wake up in the morning earlier now that the light comes in the window before six. The birds make it hard to stay sleeping. I noticed this more acutely when I first moved here and experience spring and the coming of light. The sheer joy of the birds made me want to be out in it with them. Especially when the sun was shining.
I'm always surprised and happy to see him there next to me, usually with his headset in his ear, listening to the morning program on Radio Four while drifting in and out of sleep. Whatever bad dream I've had, whatever anxiety I've felt in the early morning evaporates when I see his sweet face. And he brings me tea. I hear the same routine every morning; the kettle boiling, the clink of the cup, the sound of the teaspoon with its swift tune on the side of the cup. Dum bara dum bum. Dum DUM. And invariably, with the tea comes the question "is it raining?" Every single morning. "Is it raining?" This morning, boldly, I asked "why does it matter?" We always put on waterproofs and hats and gumboots; we always prepare for the worst. It is counterintuitive to me. I come from where the living is easy, where we prepare for nothing but earthquakes. You barely need underwear in California. Birks, a dress, a pair of cotton knickers, some someglasses, sunscreen, a bottle of water, a few dollars, and you're on your way. Although I tell people that all you need is a dress.
The morning habit, the way I like to start every day, is to walk the dogs before eight, before everyone else is out, while the village is still sleepy. I try to notice things. The little violets on the footppath to the field. The swathes of ramsons on the common (enough wild garlic soup for weeks). The tiniest, imperceptible buds on the cherry by the gate. These little signs are what keep us going. The notion that we are moving slowly into another season. The lambs with their mothers. My mare's coat which is thinning out, becoming silky as summer approaches.
Boiled eggs, toast and tea and then a day of work.
"Are we co-dependent?" he asks as we walk down Parrotts Lane listening to morning wood pigeons. "What does that mean? It's sort of like existential. I know what it means but find it hard to articulate." "Wrapped up in and allowing for the other's neuroses but in a bad way," I say, as articulate as a table. I think of Paul and Linda but I don't say this. "Perhaps it's when you fill my wine glass just a little too much?" I say. The most healthy thing about this relationship, I tell him, is that we can be apart from each other. Even now, when he is upstairs at the desk, and I'm at the kitchen table. I'm aware that he is here in the same house, but we don't have to be side by side, conjoined.
Second relationships are very interesting. You are both scarred by marriage, in very good and very bad ways. You don't want to make the same mistakes again. We are both intuitive and emotionally attuned enough to know that you can't always be sure of this. We are attracted to things that we're comfortable with, even if they are extremely toxic. This doesn't feel toxic to me. It feels gentle and kind and intimate in a way I've never really known before. There is no place we can't go. That feels refreshing. And healthy.
The further we go, the more established our rhythm. We begin to ignore the mud and the drizzle. Our cheeks are rosy. This might be called the flow.