We had a terrific storm on 30 December. There was a startling orange and purple sunset, then castles of cumulonimbus clouds built higher and higher into the sky and thunder shook the house. It wasn’t New Year’s eve, but I liked the symbolism of finishing the old year with a bang and being washed clean by the rain. And see that silver lining in the picture above? It’s clearly there, under all the heaviness and drama.
I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. If the past five years have taught me anything it’s that the idea that we can control our lives is an illusion. I read a great quote by someone who endured terrible hardship for a long time and lived to tell the tale. He said: “Hope for everything but expect nothing.” You might think that sounds a little negative, but it’s quite the opposite. It’s our expectations that make us feel entitled, sad, frustrated, angry. My experience is that when we don’t expect anything but are always hopeful then we are often surprised and delighted. Instead of making resolutions, I thought I’d take stock. It’s something lots of bloggers do, a snapshot of life as it is right now. Here’s my list:
Reading: The Shepherd’s Life, by James Rebanks. I love that he is part of his landscape, how he remembers who built each dry stone wall, how he knows the character of each sheep on his farm. He’s so attuned to the natural world he lives in. Most of us have lost that, as we rush around from here to there, always thinking of the next thing and forgetting to watch and listen to our environment.
Luxuriating: In my new bed. Why did I wait so long to buy one?!
Doing: Lots of yin yoga for my sore back and hips. (Again, why didn’t I buy a new bed sooner?!)
Watching: The mauve and apricot sunset over the Brindabellas each night.
Wishing: I could have a dog.
Enjoying: Researching all the dog breeds, all the pet rescue sites, and dreaming about the type of dog I’ll get when I can have one. For now, here’s a picture of Geoff, or Sir Geoffers, a most self-contained and noble greyhound who likes coming to visit:
Eating: Salmon with home-grown lettuce and herbs, deep red juicy plums and fragrant white peaches, grainy and sweet peanut halva—light foods after the Christmas excess.
Enjoying: Rain once a week, making the leaves sparkle and glitter, remembering the 10-year drought we had a while back and marvelling at the change now.
Discovering: A huge orchard swallowtail butterfly seemingly asleep on the plum tree at dusk, leading to the question “Do butterflies sleep?” It turns out that they just rest, or become quiescent. Isn’t that a lovely word?
Listening: To old vinyl records that I can now play on my new el-cheapo turntable. The speed is slightly warped, so everyone sounds a bit fast and tinny. Or maybe that’s how vinyl always sounded and I’ve forgotten. And they need a clean…a clean…a clean…a clean…!
Coveting: Many of the paintings in The Popular Pet Show at the National Portrait Gallery. It really is the loveliest exhibition. I’m going for the third time this weekend and I’ve bought the book. It’s on till March. I’ll miss it when it finishes.
Feeling: Glad to be swimming again, gliding through silky, sunlit water, listening to insects hum in the bushes around the pool.
Planning: How to furnish and decorate this gem of a house that I’ve moved into.
Pondering: How to have more time to write, create, finish the yoga course I started a year ago. My aim was (and still is) to hold relaxing classes for middle-aged busy people like me whose body parts are becoming increasingly creaky. Someone suggested I call it “Yoga for Stiffs”. That’s not a bad idea, particularly since it’s taking me so long to finish the course!
Loving: Being at home for a few weeks, talking and laughing with friends, getting to know the neighbours, listening to birdsong, having time to read and sleep and eat well.
Hoping: For a year of new experiences, small delights, and oceans of time to enjoy them. Here’s to 2017.