Brightly cold.

There’s something about this December… whether it’s the unusually seasonal cold snap, or whether it’s because I’m busier than usual, so have less time to spend foozling online, or because my daughter’s rising excitement at the imminence of Christmas is becoming infectious… who knows? But somehow, I feel oddly hopeful. I’m not writing – I’m still feeling burned out after last month’s marathon – I’m not reading either, which given the tottering state of my to-read pile, is cause for concern. But the endless list-making appears to be under control, and the present buying gathers apace. The Christmas card list on the other hand… I suspect that I will most probably blitz that during this weekend, with the help of a glass of something suitably blotto inducing. Nothing wrong with starting the merriment early!

Thinking about the reading pile, perhaps I should make a list of the next five that I WILL read? I still have one to finish – Dimitra Fimi’s Tolkien, Race and Cultural History: From Fairies to Hobbits, that I started reading in October. It’s detailed, it’s very interesting, and it does require dedicated concentration. I’ve been highlighting bits of it as I’ve been reading, so I will have to go back over it to make notes relevant to my own exercise in on-going world building, both for the thing that I haven’t finished yet, and for the next project that I haven’t started yet. Even when I take time off from writing, it’s all still there, whirling endlessly in the back of my mind. It looks like January – normally such a drearful month, might be rather fruitful instead.

So if I haven’t been writing, or reading, what have I been doing? Sewing little felt stockings mostly, and cooking, and trying to stay out of my husband’s way as he stares thoughtfully at a bit of the house before firstly pulling it to bits, then putting it back together and painting it. There is much use of expressive language when things don’t go back in quite the right way, or he loses something, or drops something on his toe etc. I just keep the cups of tea coming and refrain from commenting. He’s certainly grateful for the tea…

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That sort of a day.

I have the day to myself. Bliss. I have a stack of  things to do. And so far I have done none of them. Instead I have foozled about with a few word games on Facebook, messed about on Twitter, drunk twice my usual intake of caffeine, and stared out of the window. As I type this (something I’ve been meaning to do for a few days), I have the second episode of the BBC4 series, In Their Own Words, British Novelists on in the background for company. I find the plummy accents of Doris Lessing and A.S.Byatt strangely comforting. I also like that this episode begins with the publication of The Fellowship Of The Ring.

The day feels strange though. Not quite real. Outside alternates between clouded gloom and blinding brightness. Autumn is beginning to makes its imminence felt. The roses have given up – the only colour in the garden at the moment comes from a few deepest purple buddleia, splashes of an orange flower that isn’t hemerocallis (I can’t remember what it is, and my husband isn’t here so cannot remind me), a few late honeysuckle, and the last of the apples out of reach in the tree at the bottom of the garden. Everything feels in between; everything is waiting for the signal for the next phase to begin, waiting for the bridge between Now and Then to be completed. I saw this in the sky yesterday evening, the ending of summer, the beginning of autumn. The sky was a metalled grey, and the sinking sun had left the valley depths; the woodland directly behind my garden was in dark green shadow. But the trees on the hillside behind were bathed in warmth of the last light of the sun (I love that phrase), glowing golden green – a startling contrast to the sky. And through the sky directly above arced a perfect rainbow. And then last night, the waning moon lit up the woodland, and a few constellations hung in a sky finally clear of clouds.  And it was cold. I shall miss the warm summer evenings.

I love looking at the night sky, although most of the time I don’t really know what I’m looking at, beyond a few of the constellations. But before the recent rains came, and before the moon was full, there was a perfect night, of such clarity as I rarely see, even in my sheltered valley. I went out; the air was chilled, and it seemed that only a few stars had spread their net of light. But more and more appeared, brightly small yet sharp against the blackness. Then more appeared, and still more, as my eyes adjusted in the darkness, and the trailing clouds of the Milky Way spun webs between star clusters far from this Earth. And as two shooting stars in quick succession blazed their trails in the south-eastern sky, it occurred to me to wonder how the stars might look from the Kingdom? I really should get on with those maps.

NB: The orange flower is crocosmia, my husband has informed me.