The back garden shining with irrigation water, filled two extra buckets with water for my verandah plants and came indoors, hands smelling of the intense rose-scented pelargonium, more fragrant than heliotrope or lavender or the few remaining roses.
The Great Dane meandered lazily onto the verandah and drank up the water put out in buckets. Looking at me with happy accomplishment, tail wagging. Cold water on a hot day! What could be more pleasant? He has his water bowl in the shady cook kitchen but the buckets represented sheer gift, the scent of cold clean water in buckets tucked away in a shady corner.
Went up to the village library for the last time before they close over the festive season and came back with armfuls of novels. The luxury of rereading Shirley Hazzard’s The Great Fire again. Everything is bursting with heat and colour and fullness. Jacarandas and indigofera in blue and pinky mauve flower. The smell of cut grass and hot new tarmac, patchily applied. Bougainvillea like a blaze of scarlet or purple against white walls or painted fences. Cannas out in bold yellows and reds.
When will I have time to read novels? Unfinished work up on my screen, books open, online editing tools at the ready. But a novel on a sleepy hot afternoon is better than a siesta, deeply soothing and renewing, and I will make time for slow generous reading. We make time for what matters to us, something a therapist pointed out drily to me years ago: that if you want or need to go to gym, you will find a way. If you like to walk daily, or sail a boat at the weekend. Or bake chocolate eclairs. Or write poems or a novel. Or saturate your mind with great literature or art.
You will run or dance or do headstands if the need is there. You don’t need to choose to care for and train the body while neglecting the mind or the emotions, you need not remain a child emotionally while toning muscles, you can do both and more. You don’t need permission. You don’t have to wait for the perfect time to begin. You don’t have to only do what matters to another person. There is no virtue in not living to the full. If it matters to you, you will find a way to do it.
Starting right now, not waiting until you have written down a New Year’s resolution for 2014. Time is running out, fine sand slipping away between the fingers, and there is no time to lose. Now is the new normal, as a friend who is a cancer survivor tells me. Do it now.
If not now, when?
And the dog discovers the bucket filled with cold water and follows his impeccable animal instinct and laps away to satisfy his thirst. I fetch fresh water for the plants and take out my novel, a notebook, a mug of green tea.