Saturday, January 28, 2006

Bucolic Rambling

Had a perfect sort of day today - the kind of day when you can actually say, as it is happening, "I am happy. This is good." And yet it was incredibly calm. No wild excitement; the only expense that of splendid fish and chips in the bar of the Colintraive Hotel - oh, and a glass of rather pleasant red vino. We drove there for lunch with a friend who hopped over on the ferry from Bute (it takes all of two minutes); we talked; we put more logs on the fire; we observed that heat does not in fact pass through former MSPs (Mike Russell was sitting between us and the flames). We then walked briskly for over an hour along the shore road, the Kyles of Bute on our right glassy under a grey sky. Eider ducks made their Frankie Howerd noises as we approached and a heron flapped laboriously off over the water.

On two occasions dogs galloped wildly towards us only to bark and wag their tails, and the few people we saw - an old man on the road, an elderly couple in their garden - greeted us as if they'd been waiting all day for our arrival. At one point on the road we tried to walk without breathing - a tractor was spreading muck with joyous abandon and the smell was overpowering. For some reason this struck me as hilarious. By the time we returned to the car we'd walked for over two hours and it was growing dark.

When I read over the above I think of the other lives we lead - singing, travelling, meeting interesting people - and the life we used to lead, shut in a school with a thousand people where the fact that it was in the middle of lovely countryside made precious little difference to daily existence. Compared with all that, today sounds dull. It wasn't. Maybe this ties in with what I was reflecting on yesterday: we can in fact be happy with relatively little (I'm having to be cautious here - we used a car to get there, and it took 30 minutes' driving time each way) and perhaps all we need is to identify what is important. Or is that only possible retrospectively?

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