Text conversation with E, Bram's mum, this morning:
E: ... All OK?'
Me: OK, bit tense at times. Tom still has his fingers.
I dislike texting, since, having only a twelve year old dumbphone, it has to be done the old-fashioned way, and, as I don't do it very often, I'm very slow at it. However, pride dictates that I don't ignore rules of orthography and grammar as a concession to my slowness, and insist on tapping out 'are you' instead of 'r u', for example, or searching the asterisk menu for the apostrophe, once I've worked out how to turn off the predictive text. And why did no one consider that 's' is one of the most commonly used letters in English, yet it's one of the few that requires as many as four clicks? I know these concerns must be almost entirely obsolete in most people's world, but I'm quaint like that, and while my old matt blue Nokia keeps going, I'm sticking with it, even if the battery does only last for one short phone call.
Anyway, she hastened back from the station, and Bram was very pleased to see her, dancing round and round her in the hall, farting merrily and adopting the demeanour I always think of as that of Darwin's dog:
A search reveals it was not in fact Darwin's own dog, but taken from the illustrations to his 1872 work, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, depicting a 'dog in a humble and affectionate frame of mind' and 'the same caressing his master'.
They were very happy to be reunited, as were we to see them so. She has lately e-mailed to inform me that he seems extremely tired and appears to be sleeping the sleep of the just. It's exhausting work guarding a poor hapless human female who will insist on consorting with the enemy.
Later, we lit the first fire of the year, which must be one of the latest yet. Debris of the past seasons: old wine corks, nutshells, spent matches, twists of paper, prunings of laurel and sumac and buddleia, screwed up paper bags and cardboard egg boxes, all having had their moments, reasons for being, their stories, most already forgotten, up in smoke. I kneel at the hearth and poke and push at the fire as it burns, finding the right angles, the right shape and size of wood, how much to open the grill and the fire doors, all an excuse to linger with the clean dry heat on my face. The Vestal Virgins were opportunists, I reckon,claiming it was an altar, a mystery, tending the sacred hearth, they just wanted to be allowed to do this, but it's as good to worship as anything, and better than much.