It's a time for drawing up lists, in the run up to going away again. So my mind arranges everything in strict list-like formation, with fragments of runaway doodles, images and sketches from the past few days.
Too many to write about but a few come to mind – like the large pinkish coloured bull in the field, ring in his nose, eyes closed as he chews the cud. I am on my bicycle on a minor back road and I've already encountered other cattle, not fenced off but wandering across the roadway. I check out the cattle – most of them are cows but one is a bull so I climb over the fence and walk along in the field, pushing my bike on the road side of the fence until I've passed him. The bull scarcely looks at me, is really not interested in me at all, at least rarely seems to be looking in my direction on the few occasions when I find the courage to look at him. I berate myself for being a coward but that's just how I am. A stubborn coward though, determined not to curtail my bike ride just because there is a bull at the side of the road.
I used not to have any fear of bulls. As a child, holidaying once in a caravan by the sea, with a field full of cows and a bull just next to the site, I wandered over to the Hereford bull which was sitting there peaceably. I stroked his curly white forehead and he seemed to like that. Years later my mother told me that she had seen me from the caravan window and was riveted with horror. I didn't know what to do she said, if I called out to you, I was afraid that might disturb the bull so I just stood there and watched, frozen with fear. But he was a peaceable bull and besides, I knew him, or thought I did, and he had never ever been known to be bad tempered. I think of this of course, as I struggle to push my bike along. It's these unknown bulls I think, the ones I am not acquainted with, that I feel wary of.
The second bull, the one with the ring in his nose, is in a fenced off field, so I have no fear of him. Still, I pedal very quietly past him, because his eyes are closed and I do not want to disturb him, he looks so content.
The other evening, sitting in the living room, with back door and kitchen door open, I hear a slight clicking scuttling sound in the kitchen. I think it must be the neighbour's cat which has wandered in, as he sometimes does. But when I look up, standing in the living room doorway is a young hedgehog, looking amazed, boggle-eyed, disbelieving. When I get up very slowly, not wanting to startle it, it scuttles back into the kitchen and outside again. Hedgehogs can move surprisingly quickly.
Earlier today, I walk along the grassy path to my friend JR's house. It is in a valley with only one other house in view. A narrow path is mown through the tall grasses. Fronds lean over into the cut path, stroking damp fingers over my jeans. The sun shines, though wanly, through misty clouds. And a fine rain is falling. It is a curious mixture, this pale sunshine and fine rain. The small guardian gargoyle grins in front of the door. (In a former life, this building was a church). The atmosphere is soaked with rain and peace.
Very different from the jubilant and busy city, crammed with festival goers, people dressed in colourful costumes, and a piper with unusual feet. I will be back in the city tomorrow, 11th August, reading in St John's church hall. Edinburgh. Then ticking the final things off my list, before getting on a long-distance coach.
I've also put up a post on the new Scottish Pen blog, about Chateau Lavigny, the writers residency in Switzerland.