|The little bay|
I took the dogs to the headland this morning.
The tide was right out, the little bay awash with seaweed, the water thick with seagulls.
The smell of the sea was so intense, it caught me in the back of the throat and sent me spinning through the years, to other days, other beaches, other dogs. Memories of another lifetime, it seemed, way back when time wasn't measured because it didn't matter.
Those days didn't feel like thirty years ago, but they did feel as if they'd slipped beyond reach.
Time changes as you get older. It is no longer a haphazard, generously proportioned patchwork, a kaleidoscope of shifting possibilities, an empty frame in which you are creating the picture.
It becomes mean and sly and penny-pinching. It stands at your side, licking the end of its pencil and noting everything down. Nothing slips by unremarked, and one way or another, everything must be paid for - even though the hours it measures out to you slip through your fingers like water.
But it's only when the past comes swooping back to grab you, that you realise how much everything has changed.
I found myself walking through the rough grass aching for days and people - for eras - that will never be again.
But it was a blue morning, calm and quiet, the sun warm on my back.
The headland horses came to say hello as we passed on our way to the lumpy dunes where the dogs love to race, or lie in the grass and ambush each other.
|The headland horses come to say hello|
It's probably the miniature hills and dells that make the headland so exciting for them. Whoever is playing the hare can never quite tell if she's about to be caught.
And it was only when I got to the top of the highest lump and looked back, I saw that one of the mares has had her foal. The tiny, dark creature was standing close to her, still wide-eyed at this world of mornings and evenings, of sunlight and starlight - too young to realise that all these things are just marking the passage of time.
Later, the tanker-man came to deliver heating oil. We stood in the sunshine and exchanged news. He always knows far more of what is going on than I do.
He was looking pensive as well, despite the spring weather.
'Someone up the road killed himself, this morning,' he told me.
I'd seen an ambulance, going past our gate - a rare sight in this quiet place.
Shocked, silenced, I didn't know what to say.
Tragically - in this quiet place - it seems to happen more and more these days.
'You never know how it is with people,' he said, eventually.
You never do.