While I was swimming this morning, feeling grey as the sky outside, in part because I was awake for ages listening to the cat chase a mouse he brought in the other night and still hasn’t caught, I lifted my head from the water and “Wild Mountain Thyme” was playing. Again, the song lifted my spirits, took them onto hillsides of purple heather and pungent herbs, Greece or southern France or the Nicola Valley where your foot can step innocently on a clump of southernwood and the air is filled with the scent. I had a cheese scone with coffee after my swim and when I opened a jar of Nicola Valley honey, it was as though I was there, on a dry roadside, bees humming in the rabbitbrush. I dreamed the other night that we were in Portugal, driving through a small village near Evora, and when I woke I thought, When this is over, I’d like to return to Evora, where we arrived in the dark and then walked after our first breakfast to see this at the top of the little street where our hotel was:
I’d like to walk again on the Pennask Lake Road at dusk where we saw flammulated owls eating moths on the warm gravel and to swim in Nicola Lake where bluets hovered on the safety buoys. To celebrate all the occasions with my family and friends. To welcome new books into the world with readings and parties. This morning I opened A Writer’s Diary to January, 1932. The day’s message:
Can we count on another 20 years? I shall be fifty on 25th, Monday week that is: and sometimes feel that I have lived 250 years already, and sometimes that I am still the youngest person in the omnibus. […]And I want to write another four novels…
Well, I’m 66 but I still hope for another 20 years. Another four books, if not all novels. I’ve begun two things, one of them fiction and one of them an extended essay that might simply be something of its own or else part of a group of connected essays. (I am still feeling my way with it but have the old excitement when I think about what it might become.) Later this month I’ll know if Blue Portugal will be published soon. So that leaves one more book. At least. Maybe walking on the edge of Pennask Lake Road, where you feel as though you’re on the spine of the earth, something else will suggest itself, sprung to mind with the scent of wild artemisias and brown-eyed susans, the hooked seeds of wild rye.
And we’ll all go together
To pull wild mountain thyme
All around the bloomin’ heather
Will ye go, lassie, go?