A young man is holding The Very Hungry Caterpillar up to a semi-circle of children, who turn their heads to see who’s coming through the door. Jack gets up and tumbles towards me with a huge smile on his face. He picks his name tag off the board and puts it in a basket, then goes to his peg for his dinosaur coat and green bag. We say goodbye to Victoria and buzz ourselves out. The usual conversation ensues.
“Are we going to your house Noni?”
“Yes Jack, we’re going to my house. Can you see my car?”
“There’s your car. I want to sit in the middle.”
Jack can get in if he tries but today he needs a push. The middle seat is favoured because you can see the television on the dashboard. I strap him in and we set off through the town.
“Milly’s at school. We’ll go and fetch her this afternoon.”
“Where’s Derek? Is he at your house?”
“Yes he is.”
“Is Derek in his workshop?”
“I don’t know Jack. He might be in his workshop. He might be in the kitchen. What sort of weather have we got today?”
I think this is answering a different question, but on reflection it’s an accurate answer. The weather is mild, some sunshine, a few clouds, the sky a background for golden leaves – autumn weather.
The school gate closes behind us and Milly speaks as the afternoon sky darkens. “Child!” – that’s me – “go behind me. Jack, go behind child. Get in line nicely, children, and follow me”. She sets off up the hill and we follow obediently. “Now we’re looking for pussy cats. I will hold a finger up like this” – she holds up her little finger – “each time we see one. Sshhh!” We daren’t speak.
We reach the top of the small hill and Milly pauses at a clump of weeds. “You can touch these, children”. She touches some bindweed. “But these are spiky – don’t touch these”. She touches some dried dock flowers. Jack and I follow as she threads her way through the weeds, and we emerge onto a pavement. “Now, children, don’t forget, we’re looking for pussy cats.” We keep in line, Milly, me, then Jack. I spot a black and white cat crouched on a doorstep. “There’s a cat over there!” Milly holds up her little finger.
We follow the pavement as it rounds the corner. There are several driveways to cross. “These are rivers. We have to run across them.” We obey, although I don’t run so fast and fall out of line.
We’re in sight of the car now and Jack says “I want a drink”. “May I have a drink please?” I reply, and I think how annoying that might be to a thirsty person.
On Monday morning I came up to Goodwick Bridge (Pembrokeshire, West Wales) from the beach and looked up-river, as usual, to see if there was a dipper under the bridge. Instead I saw a sleek body diving in the stream. I watched, then spoke to Derek to get his attention; the creature must have heard me as it turned its head and looked at me. The otter ran and paddled up the side of the stream and jumped into a drainage pipe. We stood and watched. The otter peeked out of the pipe several times. Eventually it jumped down from the pipe and ran up-stream, under the bridge and out of sight.
It was a thrilling sight, the first time I have seen an otter in Britain, and only the third time in my life. The previous times were in Doolin Bay on the west coast of Ireland. The otters run down the streams and across the limestone pavement into the sea.
My friend the biodiversity implementation officer told me that otters hunt in the sea but need to wash the salt off when they come back to land. He also told me I was very lucky to see the otter there – but I knew that already.
Write three pages in longhand first thing every day to release you creatively – weird stuff – but had me thinking too. I first read about Morning pages in Oliver Burkeman’s column in the Saturday Guardian magazine and wanted to follow up so I read the originator, Julia Cameron. But what exactly does first thing in the morning mean – after that first vital cup of tea? after breakfast? Healthy Crush told me – really first thing, as soon as you wake up.
It still sounds weird. But I might give it a go.
I set up this blog so I could find out a little about WordPress, in particular about the technical side.
Why the name? I chose happydays – “already taken”. I tried silverdays – “already taken”; silvertech – “already taken”; appledays -“already taken”. Getting desperate, applepigs, geraniumdays, nothing. I thought maybe it was necessary to spend money to get a name, and out of ideas, I looked out of the window again. Next to the geraniums, there’s a host of verbenas.
The first rain for many days and small birds are chasing round the garden. The young blackbird is pecking the earth under the runner beans and looking more confident.