The first day of September is one of my favourite days of the year. It always brings a curious peace. That promise of autumn. The funny thing is, it always surprises me, year on year, that I feel this way. Even on the last day of August, I note the date, but it is not until I wake the next morning that I get that shiver of excitement coupled with a deep contentment. Whatever my current situation in life in general, there is a warm optimism that radiates from the late summer sun. Everything is possible.
The sun on Tuesday morning was distinctly September. It no longer had the lightness of summer, but instead the golden warmth of autumn. The greens of the garden - the richness of the hazel leaves, the paler, wind-bruised willow - seemed both brighter and deeper. The grasses on the meadowbank, long since pale and tawny, had overnight started whispering of Harvest Home.
I always find it curious that I feel like this - something one might associate with settledness - at the time of year when I usually feel most itchy.
Oh, the desk. The Splendid Desk. Do you remember me mentioning my Christmas present all those many moons ago? Well, the final product is here and it has changed everything. Mere days before Euan finished the desk, I posted about finding just a small space to create. I knew the desk was close to being complete, but I didn’t realise that he would present me with it so soon. In the first week, I wrote more than I had done in the previous month or two. Just having it there - and sacred, with only my things on it - was a revelation. No hoiking piles of random detritus before I could settle down to write, no sorting through the latest batch of cleaned clothes before I could find a flat surface. The size, the smell, the everything is perfect.
Where and When
The gardens and I reached an understanding a short while back, a joyous milestone. After managing to make significant progress this year (even if it doesn’t always seem like it to the outside eye), I finally accepted I wasn’t going to do everything I wanted to do this year. I have now started to mentally adjust to a “before winter, I must…” list in my head. There has been much planting over the last few months and still some more to go. All groundwork for next year. I am hoping for enough dry days to get things shipshape before the Truly Rainy Season (as opposed to the Mostly Rainy Season, or a Surprise Rainy Season).
Gardens aside, this month we have finally begun tentatively spreading our wings and venturing further afield than just the back garden and the woods. We visited family in Wick near the beginning of the month, and popped down to Grandtully for lunch with friends. We also had family and friends visit us meaning that, all in all, we saw more family and friends in person this month than we have done more or less since the beginning of March. We’re still being very careful and following the advice given (Euan’s only a handful of weeks out of shielding, after all), but Auri is back at nursery, meaning that our working days have suddenly become working days again. That in itself still feels novel.
However careful we have been, it still didn’t stop us all having to go and be tested last week, just to be on the safe side. Auri came home from nursery with a temperature, and we didn’t want her to go back until we were sure she didn’t have anything, so we all traipsed off to Inverness to scrape throats and noses. The results took longer than expected, but fortunately they came back negative in the end.
On the Bookshelf and In the Inkwell
Reading this month has been sporadic, but I recently started ‘Life, Art, Words’, the authorised biography of Tove Jansson, written by Boel Westin. It’s very readable, and a great insight into a fascinating and strongwilled person who was determined to carve out a life appropriate to her. I think many of us could learn from Jansson’s refusal to be someone she was not.
As with everything this year, I find it hard to dedicate the time to sit and read as much as I would like. Even if I manage to find a few moments sans toddler, my brain skitters about. I am trying to make my peace with this, and making some progress. Despite cutting back on newsletters at the start of this year, they have stacked up in the last week while my attention has been elsewhere.
Likewise, the fragile structure I agreed with myself in terms of writing slips away from me more days than not. I have been so tired this week that, despite early nights, I just didn’t have the energy to get up at my usual time, instead staying in bed an extra hour or two (I am usually a prompt and early riser). I am sure the relentless incompetence of the current Westminster Government plays a big part in this. I have a habit of checking in on Twitter some mornings to see what my family have been up to, and the ‘What’s Happening’ sidebar relentlessly screams negativity and sadness at me. So, these last few days, I’ve made one of those decisions I make over time and then all of a sudden. I am going to give myself until the end of the year on Twitter, to share thoughts and links to where I write elsewhere, and then take a break in 2021. There are two reasons I have not done this yet: firstly, I will genuinely miss updates from family and friends. But, increasingly, I find I don’t have the energy to trawl through Twitter for these updates. So what would I really be missing except for a sporadic tweet here and there? Secondly, if I am required to develop freelancing work again, Twitter is a handy platform and reference source. But I will just have to find a way round this, if the situation calls for it. It’s just too much at the moment.
So, I need your help! As you know, I stopped reading news sites religiously at the start of the year (an excellent decision), but I do want to ensure I remain informed. So, at the end of the year, I intend to subscribe to The Week and the New Internationalist, and hope to also start listening to The Economist Podcasts. I already subscribe to many newsletters which keep me abreast of all sorts of things, but I also want to know what you’re all up to, and what friends and family are doing. Do you have a blog? If you have an outlet for your thoughts, please let me know. And, if you don’t, feel free to drop me an occasional email with an update and links to anything you think I’d find interesting. The reason behind my planned departure from Twitter for a year (at first) is not to distance myself from real and interesting people, but simply to focus on quality, not quantity. You can all help with that.
(I have a hunch that, now I have made the decision to take a break, I may well just end up signing off Twitter sooner. That’s how I do things. But there are good reasons to see out this year, so I will try to do so to get online affairs in order.)
I did manage to publish some writing this month, by the way: you can read my Curating People essay here, and be introduced to The Misty Solitudes on ShiverWriggle here. I have written more, and that will start filtering out soon, no doubt.
Believe it or not, I started drafting sections of this update about two weeks ago; and it still took me until the fourth of the month to finalise and send this. So I’m going to let it go, now.
Take care of yourselves, your loved ones, and your fellow comrades (known and unknown). And try to find a moment to enjoy the September sun, and let yourself believe that things in the world will get better.
‘til next time,
4th September 2020
Croy, Highlands, Scotland