There are always new horizons, I guess, and new experiences as we age. My good friend Henry reminds me that the ageing process can affect us differently, but as my erstwhile Writers Group colleague and friend Marjorie Anderson noted, the end result is the same. Not to be gloomy or fatalistic, I’m also remembering that the noted palliative care doctor Rachel Clarke showed us so brilliantly that as long as we’re alive, life goes on.
You don’t think about being old when you’re young. And then, it seems that when you’re old, you can hardly think about anything else! But new horizons and vistas, of imagination, thoughts, vicarious experience through children’s and grandkids’ eyes, are there for the looking, too.
We’re embarking on a new downsizing adventure: tomorrow we shift a few pieces of furniture to a teeny-tiny bungalow in New Galloway, across the border in Scotland’s Dumfries and Galloway county. We mean to try to experience village life, in situ rather than from a high fellside miles away, where the local is only 50m or so away, the river path 100m the other direction, and the health centre is just a few steps further along beyond the art centre. For now, the adventure is kind of an extended holiday home, so we’ll divide our time between the two places. How fortunate are we? Beyond imagining at an earlier point in our lives, but now playing out in front of us.
Over the next month, however, there are community responsibilities here, in our home of the past 30 years, with two funerals and one memorial service in the offing. So our sights may be set on new horizons, but our hearts will be here. I guess that’s part of the ageing process too.
And anyway, we’ll be looking forward to enjoying the new potato plants emerging from their bed of manure, and the call of the curlews, the skirl of the lapwings, and the quiet nights of the full moon rising across the valley. Our neighbour took his dog out for a midnight walk the other night: on his way down the track, he surprised an otter dancing under the little bridge, and then walking further he marvelled at the illuminated spectacle of the high fells wildlife which included boxing March hares and birds kept awake by the moonlight. His description was so poetic it brought tears to my eyes, but maybe that was a bit of premature nostalgia too.
So we’re moving ahead in life with some trepidation, and not a little expectation of simple pleasures, of joy at being alive and learning new things yet. Old things pass away, new things enter our consciousness. Meanwhile, the Sparty Lea Cup has a permanent place here as a pointer to our seed potatoes: do your best!