I really like to look at old buildings as I sit in the modern day life of hustle and bustle and minds sucked into a cloud of technological machinery grating against each other.
The clock tower, with its ancient clock, still ticking away one hundred and fifty years after some hands carefully welded it all together. Single pane windows underneath a plaque set in bricks which reads ‘AD 1859’ and I think, who peered out of those windows in 1860? Who walked the streets I now walk? I think of how they were dressed and what they could possibly have thought about, and whether they wore hats and then pssshh, of course they wore hats.
They all dressed well back in those days, or at least we like to think they did. Were their faces dirty, though?
I watched a Youtube video on 15 minute dinners. Ways to cook dinner quick. Mad rush in the evenings to fit an entire life in. A life put on hold because of working during the daylight hours. Quick, quick, make dinner. Eat it. Hurry. So you can put the kids to bed. Or relax. Or do anything but cook and eat.
Some folks like to take their sweet time whilst cooking. Slowly chop and onion. Feel the satisfaction of a sharp knife sliding through the crisp layers. The gentle sizzle of cut onions in a pan. The creaminess of sauce coating spaghetti.
Why is it always a mad rush?
Where is intentionality in living?
Why does life feels like a horrible race?
Even when not racing?
I bought a really lovely book called ‘Slow Down’. It’s full of little stories. The story of a snail making silvery trails across the garden. The story of a bee collecting nectar from dahlias, and pollinating an entire garden as it buzzes about drinking from it’s straw-like tongue.
Gorgeous little illustrations.
My son and I pored over the book today.
He is ‘scared of the big snail’.
You see, we were collecting snails in the garden yesterday. Well, no. I was weeding a border and I kept pulling snails out with the weeds so I lined them up for my toddler to collect. The snails were small and green, and fit nicely in the palm of his hand. I pulled out a larger brown snail, and he gazed at it in wonder. I watched his eyes flit from his line of little green snails, to the big brown one. Light up. Make to go put it at the front of his little snail army… but just then the snail decided to peek out and see what was going on. Two tentacles for eyes grew out of the shell and my son threw the snail in horror.
‘Don’t like that one, mama. Put it away.’
‘Okay lil chap. I’ll put it away’
So I tucked it away in the weeds again.
That night he kept waking up and saying he was scared of the big snail.
And the next morning as I was leafing through my ‘Slow Down’ book, he noticed the page on the snail and he was fascinated by it. We looked over every inch of that page. Every illustration. The snails looked exactly like the big scary snail we found in the garden, so we talked about that too. We talked about how it leaves a trail, and how it comes out when it rains and hides away when it’s sunny.
We ‘slowed down’.
And I just thought that was meaningful in some way, but don’t quite know how yet. I feel like I want to slow down more often.
Slow down in the kitchen.
Wash the dishes and enjoy it, maybe. Allow little hands to help me hang out laundry. Make a fifteen minute dinner, but observe my pasta. Relish in the gentle simmer of a tomato sauce. Ladle some soup into a bowl. Nice and clean ceramic, smooth hot liquid. Brush hair softly. Feel the locks in my fingers.
Why rush the kids to bed.
Go upstairs slowly. Listen to my boy telling me stories. Even ones where he says he wants to squish all the woodlice. Listen. Breathe.
A giant mass of faded blue puff, rising in the distance like a manifestation of a nightmare storm. It’s England, though, it isn’t real. It won’t turn into a tornado; it is too benign for that. It is still, like a painting, a wall of such exquisite detail, as though some artist in the sky painted every stroke with tender love and care.
Every shadow, articulated.
The road winds in and out, up and down ahead, and the sky around the faded blue cloud is an ombre of colour, from the palest blue, to a bright and sundry pinky yellow.
The trees begin to silhouette themselves, but it isn’t quite twilight, yet.
And the clouds billow in the sky as though fuelled by some ferocious fire, only not so bitter, not so black, not so violent.
Still, like a photograph.
A still moment in time, as the sky transcends daylight and becomes that sultry, mysterious mixture of day and night. Not quite here, not quite that.
I love those clouds. Those clouds that don’t quite know what to make of themselves, that take on the hues of the ever-changing sky, shrugging on the colours and exploding in every emotion. So ominous, yet so safe. So surreal, yet so familiar. So strange, yet so reminiscent of thousands of autumnal evenings, throughout the centuries.