July and it's cold and rainy. The shawl is still on the pins and in desperate need of some concentrated effort on my part if I'm going to be able to wear it when I go to Shetland in September. Actually, wearing one's scabby hand-knit when one arrives in knitting Nirvana is a bit like pitching up at the pearly gates with a pair of off-the-shelf Icarus-type wings. Or, in my case, turning up at Hades with my own bar-b-queue sauce.
Whatever. Suffice to say, the shawl needs another ball of super gossamer kidsilk haze to be woven into its length before I can cast off and wear it. Correction. before I can cast off, soak it in some delicately scented floral water and pin it out on a flat surface in order to turn a pile of tangleweed into the lace pattern that I take on trust is hidden in the weft. Knitting a lace shawl requires a leap of faith. When finished it will only weigh 75 grammes, will pass through a wedding ring and is the exact colour of the sea off the West coast of Scotland on a sunny day.
At least, I think it's the exact colour. I am working from memory here. This year's colours are grey, grey and grise.
It's such a cold day that I resort to deep domesticity to stay warm. After breakfast I lurk in the kitchen's warmth, ostensibly to make a tiny quantity of strawberry jam which, due to eagle-eyed testing for a set is still the exact colour of a maidenly blush, instead of that awful denatured reddy-brown of boiled-to-death dammit-it-WILL-set industrial conserve. One pot is labelled 'strawberry' and the other 'fraise' which sounds as if more care has been expended on it. I wonder which will taste better? One is for right now to cheer our bedraggled rained-on souls. With scones. Or slathered in between the layers of a Victoria sponge. The other is for the dead of winter when strawberries are a memory - this year, a memory of a wet and rather disappointing summer. Upstairs, my workroom is chilly and the view of the Kyle is grey. Still it rains. I try to work, then decide that more culinary effort is required. Back down to the kitchen where I raise a batch of bagels followed by a baton of potato and rosemary bread. There's something deeply soothing about being able to achieve that pillowy, billowy levitation of flour and yeast while rain lashes the windows.
Back to the work. Second last spread of dragon roughs -there's a lot of decorative twiggery in curlicues around the edges of the main picture, and there's a lot of dreamy pleasure to be had from sitting in an upstairs room, letting my thoughts spiral and twirl like the foliage I'm drawing. The music helps, too. Today, as it has been for the last few weeks of drafting out the book, I'm listening to David Sylvian's rather melancholy and introspective 'Dead Bees on a Cake' followed by 'Secrets From the Beehive'. Given that the dragon book is about climate change,my musical choice seems spookily appropriate since the disappearance of several species of bees is being seen as harbinger of future extinctions.
Must fill the last two spreads with live bees. Just in case there's anything in that sympathetic magic malarkey. If magic won't save us, then I suspect nothing will. As it rains and rains and rains I can't help but imagine a wet world like my dragons end up in.
Then the seas start to rise
And the deserts expand
Till everything's covered
In water or sand.
And yet my treacherous soul craves a foreign sun...even as I mutter darkly as sun-bound holiday planes trail overhead.