Today I had to restrain a fierce four year old boy with the narrow, freckled look of a feral cat. Afterwards my heart felt as if it had been wrung of blood. I took time out to stand in the staff room kitchen with its smell of cold lino, and drink water from a tall glass. And just for a moment, as I stared out at a leafless tree where three sparrows hung, I considered eternity.
Today a three year old started to cry. When I asked him what was wrong he said that it was because he wanted to play Bald Eagles first and then Carnivores, but his friend B. wanted to play Carnivores first and then Bald Eagles. Silly friend. Everyone knows you always play Bald Eagles before you play Carnivores.
At nine o’clock this morning some of the children and I stood by the classroom’s glass doors and watched fat snowflakes fall. But because they didn’t stick around, any hopes of snowmen or snowballs, or even of school being closed for the day, were dashed.
To steal a line from Maurice Sendak’s ‘Where The Wild Things Are’, winter ‘showed its terrible teeth and gnashed its terrible jaws’. Clear and bitter and clean. Each year winter seems to taste of new ice.
After work I happily strode to the bus-stop. My lungs welcomed the shock of fresh, cold air. I was warm and cosily wrapped up in scarf, hat, gloves, warm coat and sheepskin boot-liners. I felt protected from the elements like a polar bear, or an Antarctic geologist.
Winter! I love how it offers elements to brave and the chance to write, “I happily strode.”
Soon ABM and I head off to Beaumont to my brother’s farm. It is a’ raw, bricht nicht’ kind of day (although the ‘bricht’’ may not apply ... the sky is ragged and grey with snow clouds. And as ABM pointed out, as is his inimitable, reasoned wont; 'nicht' doesn't apply either as it means 'night'.) All I am hoping is that there is some snow on the ground at R’s place.
Meanwhile, as I pack a bag to take, I am also trying to think of a way to feed the birds I can hear calling from the trees around our house. The thing is ... we have two cats, so it’s tricky trying to work out how to feed the birds without luring them toward the jaws of death.
I am reading an Ian Rankin murder mystery at the moment. Set in Edinburgh, it gives me a sense of familiarity, not only because we were over there in 1977 (shudder ... so long ago now) but also because in Dunedin - which is another version of the word ‘Edinburgh’ - we have identical street-names to the ‘auld’ town. So when Rankin describes D.I. Rebus walking down George Street and then Princes Street (having just visited Canongate) it all sounds very familiar indeed.
Last night I dreamed that I was about to walk up a gravel road (very similar to a road I remember from my childhood.) The road spanned three hills that clearly curved before me like the undulating back of a snake. And to top it all off, at the end of this set of three hills, there were a quite considerable number of steep, concrete steps to conquer. I was looking forward to the exercise! However, I woke up before I could achieve my goal. I could ‘could've felt a little cheated, except for the pleasant glow of anticipation still there when I woke up.
One of our cats, Grommet, is a mad cat. He thinks he’s a dog. He likes to bound and would wag his tail if he could. And bark. This morning because it is so cold outside, he thinks indoors will do for bounding in. He’s a very heavy cat and the sound of him in the bathroom leaping from bath to hand-basin to floor again (and in the process rolling up the mat) makes it sound like we’ve got a herd of elephants in there.
Meanwhile our other wee cat, Aggie, is curled up quietly in the corner on a pink blanket. She knows she’s a cat and has no delusions of grandeur whatsoever. Just a very loud and chilling yowl whenever Grommet gets anywhere within an inch of her. (It is her only form of defence as he is so huge and a bit of a bully.) Except when it comes to feed-time, Aggie becomes all maternal and licks Grommet’s head and allows him to munch happily beside her.
But I mustn’t tarry. I’ve got to finish my packing and add a few layers of clothing to my person because in an hour’s time ABM and I head off into the rural interior where there are rumours of heavy snowfalls and feeding out.