And we’re back—or I am, anyway: Margaret’s staying out in New England for another couple of weeks, which I think of as time off her sentence for good behaviour.
Meanwhile, I have this whole jet lag thing to work through. When the alarm goes off my eyes tell me it’s 7.00 am, but deep down my body knows it’s 5 hours earlier. I’m shambling through the day like a precursor to the zombie apocalypse; I’ve already run two loads of laundry forgetting to add detergent, and last night got frustrated when my soup wouldn’t heat, only to find I’d turned on the wrong burner.
Of course, the weather doesn’t help. I’d left Massachusetts with the temperature in the mid-60ºsF, blue skies, sitting on the deck watching the bees drift about aimlessly and listening to the birds in the trees; I woke up on Saturday to 48º, strong winds and rain lashing the windows as though someone had positioned a cannon on the driveway and was firing bags of water at the house instead of grapeshot. Any bees foolish enough to stick their heads out of the hive would find themselves heading for Greenland at about 40 mph before they could even get their backside in position for the SOS emergency waggle dance (“Quick! What’s the abdomen signal for Brace! Brace!?”).
At least the flight was memorable. You see, we approached Heathrow at about 5.45 on Friday morning, and had to circle around at 10,000 feet for a while until there was a landing stage for us. It was still night, but the moon was out: it was full, and lit up the city like a spotlight. In fact, at that height the whole of London looked like a model—but, in the dark, it was a model of a city on the moon. It was as though the moonbase in 2001: A Space Odyssey had grown into a city, strange and wonderful, the heart of England transformed into a desolate lunar landscape.
I flew from Boston to Heathrow, then on to Edinburgh, and finally to Wick, arriving after a journey of 12 hours, the aircraft getting progressively smaller and noisier (I think we travelled to Wick in something modelled on Baron von Richthoven’s biplane). I knew we were home when I looked out the window and saw the great turbine blades of the wind farm near the airport going round like giant acrobats turning cartwheels in slow motion.
In between yawning a lot I have been doing some knitting, as you’ll see from the pictures (apologies for the poor quality, by the way; you’ll have to wait for Margaret to come back for something approaching reality, I’m afraid). In fact, I’ve finished the back, and only have the shoulders to do and then it’s on to the front. Still on my first 500g cone, too, which isn’t bad.
And now it’s time to rake up the leaves, or as I like to think of them, “tree dandruff”. The wind has stripped the tree out the back so bare it’s shivering, pleading for its own bark-warming gansey, and all its leaves are lying on the lawn thick as lava from Vesuvius. Except that unlike Pompeii I’ll probably unearth the petrified forms of snails, caught in a sudden eruption of leaves and forever trapped in their last moments, expressions of surprise and dismay on their sluggy features. (Or I could just go to bed. Hmm—the coin of fate spins: heads it’s the leaves, tails it’s bed. Heads. OK, best of three, then…)