Sometimes you just find yourself feeling a bit inside out, like a cat with its fur stroked the wrong way, a grumpy toddler, an awkward old lady. At the end of today I felt peopled out. A few days with primary responsibility for my father in law and my grandson, love them both dearly though I do, coupled with the expectation of a further week full of friends and family coming and going, suddenly made me feel crowded in upon and oppressed.
This always puzzles me. When I have done the tests that corporate life throws at you on odd occasions such as the Myers Briggs which looks at various aspects of your personality, I always come out as an extrovert. And it is true that I love people and today had a great lunch with some very good friends we had not seen in ages and loved the chat and was energised and delighted by their company. And yet, as tonight, I can quite suddenly feel the wind change. The demands of other people seem too much. The compromises which life requires suddenly make me want to scream. The sense of eating food that suits other people, moving at a pace which is not my own - as slowly as my father in law, as relentlessly five-year-old-fast as my grandson - accommodating things in my house I do not want, being patient, being kind, being stretched by all the things I want to do for all the parts of my family who are not right here, right now, makes me feel pulled tight as a guitar string. I need to go away or I will burst or break.
So we went for a walk, the normal walk, along the track, up the hill, towards the ridge, shining in the sunlight on a still spring evening.
There are calves up in the field by the track.
As we approach they all turn their heads to look at us. They are so delicate, so beautiful. Adult cows are big beasts, lumbering, huge. Calves are oddly fragile, more like deer somehow.
Up at the top of the hill, a lamb is playing hide and seek behind a tree. The whole act of walking and looking is calming - one foot in front of another, the road rising, the bluebells in bloom in the verge, across the field the lambs having their mad half hour, racing around and careering back to their mothers.
Back home, the fur beginning to lie flat, I wander the garden, closing up the greenhouse, watering pots, inspecting the sweetpeas which have struggled in the heat. Today I dug watering ducts into the soil by the sweetpeas, toilet roll insides for most of them, 3 inch pots when I ran out of toilet rolls. Ian had watered them in. I watered all the big pots and some wildflower plugs I bought today. I looked at all the plants I have been moving down to the native tree walk, some happy, some clearly short of water, and lugged watering can after watering can down the field to those plants that needed them.
It started to get dark but I didn't want to go in. The apple blossom glowed in the dusk and I realised I had my camera in my pocket.
The cat arrived, wondering what was going on.
And decided to make its contribution.
So I shall take Anna Pavord's The Constant Gardener to bed and all will be well.