My ace in the hole.
Yesterday was a good day. To be clear, I do see most days that way; I can usually find occasion to smile and moments of gratitude. Unusually, yesterday was aware how good it was, too, and reminded me frequently.
Now, it’s almost daylight when I leave the house in the morning, telling me Spring is on the way. As usual, I traveled in to work on the top deck, front seat of the bus, with a good friend. Once on campus, we walked down together towards the lake, surrounded by many trees and few people. Then, he turned right to his office, and I turned left for coffee in the theatre cafe.
Served while I listened to the jazz playing in the background, I took the drink to my office. Since Christmas, I’ve been the only occupant. I like it that way and long may it continue. My day went from classroom to meeting to meeting to classroom with long enough breaks to walk from one venue to the next and no more. No time to waste or get up to any mischief.
For once, I consciously savoured that time, from my morning coffee, through my happy-hungover students, to my supportive colleagues and their great cups of tea. Starting the walk home, the sun was setting and I stopped to photograph those minutes when the sky is fiery and the trees are cutwork against a layered sky. Yesterday was a good day.
Sunset camels ~ Essaouira © Tori Andrews
‘We have neither of us anything to tell; you, because you do not communicate, and I, because I conceal nothing.’
In times of confusion, I often turn to Jane Austen for clarity and a pick-me-up. This quote resonated with me last week; it helped put a (full) stop to an ellipsis.
Marianne Dashwood to Elinor Dashwood, ‘Sense and Sensibility’ (chapter 27), Jane Austen.
‘Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets.’
Arthur Miller, The Ride Down Mt. Morgan (1991)
Once upon a time, the campus of the University of Essex was simply Wivenhoe Park. Now, the University expands ever-faster with ever-increasing student numbers and ever-changing demands – so, much of the Park has been built over. Of the few spaces remaining in which to breathe and be still, this is my favourite – by the lake. This is where I take my breakfast before starting work, and where I take my time at lunch. I tell myself that, on this seat, eyes front, Constable might, just might, recognize this view.
‘This monument is dedicated to all the animals that served and died alongside British and allied forces in wars and campaigns throughout time’
So reads the first inscription on this tribute to animals in war. Recently, I crossed Park Lane in London on my way to Hyde Park and saw this memorial for the first time. It’s a calm oasis in the middle of a busy thoroughfare, providing a space for reflection and gratitude. Designed by the sculptor David Backhouse, it was unveiled by Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, on 24 November 2004.
The second inscription reads:
‘They had no choice’
She looked down impassively at the animal zipped into her handbag and felt only pity for it. It returned her a disdainful side-eye. Not the dog’s fault, of course, that it’d been given to her as a let’s-save-this-pathetic-excuse-for-a-marriage gift. She’d tried hard from day one to love the creature, and failed. Now, three years on, she and the pet had learned how to co-exist, her social media status had switched from ‘It’s complicated’ to ‘Separated’, and she was reluctantly forced to admit that a canine greeting at the end of a long day was better than none. Both gave good public face, especially today in matching clothing. They were going to the vet to find the one good thing that did come out of that marriage. Somewhere, inside the dog, were her Tiffany rings.
It’ll be a while until I sleep through the night again, but tonight the silence of solitude is a welcome blanket