I dropped my youngest off at school late last week and it was such a lovely early autumn day that I decided to go for a walk down through the suburban outskirts of the town to the Beck and then up over the fields to have a drink at The Pink Pig.
It was wonderful to be in the moment of just walking, taking in the world through my senses and having time at a walking pace to do that. But the thing that struck me most was how clearly my brain was working. It seemed as if everything I saw sparked off a whole collection of associated thoughts, ideas, memories, quotes, images. It sounds very busy, but it was wonderful and when I got to the cafe and was settled with my pot of tea I tried to record it.
I walk. I look. There is so much of interest. In gardens, in houses, on houses, on the pavement, in the road… I truly am here, in the moment and the neurons are firing as if each sight tumbles a book from the shelves of the library of my mind, falling open to reveal a snippet of connected knowledge to delight in. I relish the way my brain shares them so easily and willingly.
I stand on the bridge over the beck, loving its clarity; the sway of the water weed. Jenny Greenteeth comes to mind immediately. “River-woman’s daughter” follows it. Pale-bellied beech leaves emerge and then are hidden in the long swirling strands of weed, like scallops in seaweed. A tiny submerged beach of sand opens up a new book full of A-level geography on rivers and their load. I realise I’m smiling with pure joy.
I’ll make elderberry jelly. With? Port? Don’t have any and not buying some especially.
Apples? Ditto. Aren’t there a few tayberries in the freezer? I think so… Sorted. I’ll gather them on the way home.
Yellow flowers. Vetch? Like miniature gorse. “Nut-smell of gorse and honey smell of ling…” Betjeman of course.
Brilliant blue: borage-colour blue. As I get close, it is borage – a healthy little clump. Borage cures melancholy? Borage ice cubes. Borage and cucumber? Recipes from a Sainsbury’s cookbook I used to own that has long since been given away, well, in physical form at least. The bits I need are obviously still safely stored.
I look behind. The Long Trail. The Old Straight Track, my brain tells me.
More books fall. Alfred Watkins, Merrily Watkins, Phil Rickman… World War 1, Howard Goodall? Anuna, that new Fish album I discovered a fortnight ago on YouTube… each reference sparks off another. All that information in there, cross-referenced in my own idiosyncratic way. I am so grateful for that. Not only do I have a rich, strange Ashmolean of a brain but it still works so well and gives me so much pleasure as it does so.
I made the elderberry and tayberry jelly.
It’s softly set, the purple of midnight’s cloak and tastes gorgeous.