I don’t do winter very well. If there were more in the way of snow and blizzards and adventure and stuff, I’d feel a whole lot different about it – but it doesn’t do that sort of thing around here, and it’s hard to think kindly or with any enthusiasm about week after week of grey skies and rain. But that is all about to change, bright spring is gearing up and ‘boyhowdy!’ and ‘yeeha!’ for that. Not words of joy I’d usually use, but you get to go with the moment.
And what have I been doing these past grey months?
Writing. That’s what I’ve been doing.
There’s a new book all done and finished and out in September in the UK and January in the US. It’s called The Wrong Train. I enjoyed writing it, and I hope you enjoy reading it. ‘Enjoy’ as in the ‘being completely spooked-out, and not being sure whether you really want to turn the light out’ way of enjoying it. And there is another book on the go too, that will be with the publishers in the autumn, so in the shops sometime next year.
It’s only a week or two now before we see our first swallow here. It’s a date we really celebrate as a family. We’ve kept a calendar of first sightings since April 1996 – that calendar is time browned and scruffy now but marks every first swallow for twenty years. Just imagine that – twenty years of swallows, twenty years of a day when suddenly the sky wasn’t so empty and one of us would point and shout out ‘SWALLOW!’ It’s somewhere out there right now, that first swallow we’ll see – it and us getting closer by the moment. But love swallows as I do, it is the arrival of the swifts that marks the real coming of summer for me. Boy, those guys can fly.
They say that you shouldn’t finish anything on a sad note, but sometimes things are just so big and so sad that there isn’t anywhere else to go afterwards, and that’s how I feel right now. This is our lovely old dog, Spanner. She died just three weeks ago today. She was just over sixteen years old, which is very old for a dog. Because I write at home, she and me shared nearly every day of those sixteen years, from small puppy to silver-muzzled old dog. When our children were small, look for them and you’d find a big soft black labrador not far away. She was a wonderful dog and my buddy, sat beside me while I wrote, walked with me when I walked. I know I will grow accepting of the emptiness of her not being somewhere in the house, but I’m not sure I will ever get used to it. She was the best.