The summer of living a little


My mother's funeral last Friday was a fine one. The service was held in the convent in Loughborough, the first time such a grace has been bestowed on other than a nun. We then trekked out through countryside, butterflies scattering around the hearse that bore Mum in her wicker basket to her resting place - a woodland grave which will in time be marked by the planting of a silver birch.

Now the family's blinking at the rest of summer - the play of light among leaves beside the river astonished me with its beauty the other day. Part of surviving is waking to wonder as regularly as one can.

So clothes are ironed, my bag packed, and we're off to Venice in the morning. Friends have loaned us an apartment for a couple of weeks. One summer years ago Venice worked its magic - I remember the moment, sitting beside a canal, when a dark mood I was carrying lifted. I'm not so dark now, know Mum's in a good place, but I am exhausted. I'm taking books - just added a Chaim Potok novel to my pile, remembering his My Name is Asher Lev as the warmest book about the creative life I have ever read, and thinking a genuinely good-hearted book might help my mood along.

I'm taking a writing pad too ... and leaving my computer behind. Part of my way back to health has always been through writing, so if such stamina returns I look forward to spreading the second chapter of a new novel across a few pages.

One bonus of going away is that I won't be waiting around to hear news of the new works I have sent out into the world. The arrival of the postman doesn't have the frisson it used to have --- probably because I know that it's normally bad news that bothers with the slow pace of the mail. Even so it will be grand to get away from all the machinations of forging a career out of writing and just let myself be a little.

I'll see you here in a couple of weeks or so, hopefully building back to some more regular rhythm of these postings. In the meantime, may August blow some light and delicious moments your way.

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