This time of the year, there are days when staggering out of bed in the morning is such an effort I am exhausted by the time I’ve made it to the bathroom sink. Those are the mornings when I blink at my reflected image and suppress an anguished “AAAAAGGHH”, because seriously, where did the person in the mirror come from? Baggy eyes, pillowcase wrinkles on the left cheek (or it could be the right; after all, mirrors are tricky things…) and hair that has reinvented itself as a crow’s nest overnight.
Fortunately, there are things like hairbrushes and “skin clarifying complex creams”, and “day-glo foundations”, so after some minutes a somewhat more familiar face appears in the mirror. Not, I am sad to state, quite as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as I once was, but give me a cup of tea, a couple of multi-vitamins and I am ready to face this day too, despite the fact that it’s raining cats and dogs. (And isn’t that the oddest of expressions? An American colleague of mine told me recently that the expression dates from the time when most of us lived in thatched houses. Cats – and dogs, one presumes – would seek refuge up in the thatch, but when it really poured, the thatch became slippery and the poor animals slid off to land like enlarged raindrops on the ground. Hmm. Not entirely sure I buy that. Comments, anyone?)
Once I am at work, there is no time to sit about and mope about the encroaching dark of autumn and the dismal weather. In fact, all the buzz and activity replenishes my energy levels, which is sort of strange as reasonably expending energy pounding up and down stairs from one meeting to the other should leave you tired rather than dancing on your toes (And dancing on your toes, BTW, is difficult to do when one is sporting brand new bright red patent leather Doc Marten’s. These boots have a grounding effect, so to say, lending a certain gravitas to my stride as I rush from one task to the other).
By the time I leave work, it is dark. Yippee, welcome to life in the Northern Hemisphere, where the days grow increasingly shorter until daylight is a lighter shade of grey between nine in the morning and three in the afternoon, while the remaining eighteen hours are sunk in darkness. (This is why us northerners have a thing about candles) The short walk to the shop is a battle with the rising wind and the odd rain shower, resulting in my hair reverting to crow’s nest mode again. The short walk back home blows the hair the other way. I amuse myself by carrying my four carrier bags with my arms extended backwards and doing triceps pulls. Very effective. And tiring. My poor arms ache by the time I reach our building.
Of course, this is the day when Murphy’s law dictates that the lift is out of order. Duh. Seven flights of steps, and I am wondering why on earth I was stupid enough to do those triceps things because right now my arms are killing me. So are my feet, protesting loudly at the somewhat too snug fit of my beautiful bright red boots. so is my head, reminding me it is dead tired, thank you very much, and it sincerely hopes I have no intention of calling on more brain services tonight. My head and I have this little argument every day.
“God, I’m tired,” my brain groans. “I need inane TV and a foot-bath.”
“You don’t have any feet,” I respond.
“Your feet are my feet,” the brain says. Except that I don’t want a foot-bath – I want chocolate. So does the brain, conveniently forgetting the rational decision it took earlier today that as of now there would be no chocolates, no cookies, no unhealthy stuff. Which is why my brain and I end up without foot-bath and with chocolate (dark, of course; it is SO healthy for you), stretched on the sofa while I contemplate the darkness outside. Ugh. Two more months until the year turns, and I’m feeling like a half-dead slug. “Me too,” my brain mutters.
Things could have ended there, but this is where my creative side steps in like a saving angel – or a tyrant, but more about that side of things in a later post. One moment I am flat on my back wondering why on earth my ancestors didn’t emigrate to somewhere nice, warm and relatively light like the Bahamas, the other I am being pulled towards my bright red computer (I have a thing about red, which is why so many of my accessories, whether footwear, technical gadgets or scarves tend to be this colour).
Moments later, I am no longer in Sweden, living through a dreary, wet October day. I am in France, in the year of Our Lord 1326, and it is a mellow, warm day with roses shedding fragrant petals over a woman who sits sewing in the sun. I write and the sun warms my skin, I write some more and my nostrils dilate to capture the scent of sun-warm lavender and drying grass. From somewhere to my far right, comes the sound of children playing, and out of the corner of my eye I catch a glimpse of two little girls, their kirtles bunched up as they clamber up a stately oak.
A horse neighs. Footsteps crunch over the garden path, and my sewing lady arrests her needle. Boots swish through the grass – one of the heels squeaks – and a shadow falls over the woman. She shades her eyes with her hand as she cranes her head back to study her visitor. A bumblebee buzzes, from a nearby tree a blackbird calls. I am no longer aware of approaching winter, of rain and cold. I am there, with the woman who now rises to her feet and extends her hand. Strong fingers grip hers. The sun in her eyes, the wind in her hair. Summer. Lovely, lovely summer…
It is still raining when I go to bed. It is still cold, still dark (not so strange, given the late hour) My jacket remains damp, tomorrow will be yet another long, dreary day – the weather forecast says so. And yet I fall asleep with the sound of a summer breeze through a stand of trees, and I am quite, quite sure that I am lying in a sunlit glade, the sweet scent of clover in bloom tickling my nostrils. Such is the power of imagination – thank God for the power of imagination!