‘I didn’t know we had lizards in Wales!’ I reported excitedly to my mum, spotting one unwisely resting in the uneasy solace of the cat bowl. Mum confirmed that we still didn’t. When I was done channelling my inner Attenborough, would I be able to relocate the newt to the pond please. The difference, you ask? Newts are more like salamanders, and as this article explains, ‘while all newts are considered salamanders, not all salamanders are newts’. Doesn’t help, right? Anyway, dearly hoping that the poor thing hadn’t just made a mammoth journey from the pond in the first place – I asked it, not much of a response - Jeff was duly dispatched to the watery depths, albeit somewhat reluctantly. Think he quite liked the bowl.
Next up for me that day came another blood donation for this year, propping up the NHS with some more mighty Reed blood! Honestly, there’s never been a better time to have an accident. I imagine somewhere in the basement of the NHS, they’re distilling the potency, watering it down for mere humans or just donating it all to a single poorly elephant that’ll go from languishing despair to dancing a jig now that he’s been injected with some rocket fuel! Or they might just pack it in with the others, I guess.
Feeling a little jaded in the afternoon, I stumbled across a large bumble bee sharing my listlessness – I was going to write sluggishness but we already have two animals in this story. The Reed Rescue Centre (me) plopped him next to some flowers. Since he didn’t immediately look energised, I fetched a tiny dab of honey from the pantry and put some down right next to him, hoping to god that bumble bees like honey as much as honey bees supposedly like honey . . . I mean, am sure they’re very different, unlike lizards and newts which intelligent people mix up all the time. Yet sure enough, ten anxious minutes later, just when I was picturing the news headlines, ‘Sick bastard poisons innocent bee – public execution arranged’, the little chappie/chappness/non-denomination-please-stop-boxing-me-into-a-gender bumble bee had more pep, and soon buzzed away merrily. He zipped by several minutes later to the lounge window I was gazing out of, undoubtedly to say thank you in a bzzz, bzzz bzzzzzzzz way that they do. A quite wonderful day! No idea what happened to the slug.
Being a professional log-bagger isn’t as glamourous as it sounds, battling spiders in the wood shed for the juiciest chunks. I’m just thankful we don’t have Huntsman or snakes in this country, otherwise I’d be forced to sign-over woodshed ownership. I’m good with cold, thanks! It is glorious being back home, but the hours change on both hemispheres means the rough 8pm-4am slot is now 10-6am. Ouch!
The biphasic or sometimes triphasic sleeping patterns mean I go to bed A LOT! My whole day seems to consist of getting up so I can then go back to bed. Traipsing through the narrow-cobbled streets of Lisbon or staring across the beautiful Lake Como for a few hours a day (or indeed walking the Welsh countryside in spring with all the cute lambies or chatting to my parentals) are pretty magnificent in the down time though.
Accompanying me on any trip is my camera, muddled thoughts and a need to exercise, but many of my standard practices have capitulated. My meditation practices have fallen off a cliff, as too has the sheer amount I read. Lack of sleep wipes out a lot of creativity too; I still have my bounce, just it’s not quite as high. Back in Wales following the last European jaunt, I recently picked up the lovely Phosphorescence: On Awe, Wonder and Things That Sustain You When the World Goes Dark by Australian author Julia Baird, a journalist extolling the benefits of the natural world: walks in the countryside; swimming in the ocean which she cutely refers to as Vitamin Sea; the simple everyday experiences of feeling roughness of a carpet under smooth souls; the delights of apricity – the warmth of the winter sun. It’s an entrancing charming book.
Referred to often is the feeling of awe and wonder, the latter Descartes expostulated was the greatest of all emotions. It perfectly encapsulates my feelings when staring at snowy mountains and countryside stretching for eternity, at architecture or art that sends my soul into rapture, where I lose my footing on the path of time for a few brief seconds. An interlude of dislocation from the world. Time to plan another jaunt, perhaps Greece. Wanna come? You can watch me sleep and mumble about spiders and logs.
Writing and writing...