Thursday, April 16, 2009

unsprung Spring

The blossom is out, the trees are at bud-break, the primroses carpet hills in Argyll but it's so damn cold that I can only think wintry soup thoughts and warm cashmere wrappy things and hot baths and electric blankets cranked up to max and every meal i make seems to have a dried red chilli or two snuck into it. Brrrrrrr.

Spent the Easter break over in Argyll, making up crummy doggerel for my youngest daughter's egg-treasure hunt, baking Simmnel cake and trying to feed beloved visiting friends on a budget of precisely zilch. We did have one spectacular dinner at sunset at the top of a newly-opened right-of-way at the top of a hill with an unexpected picnic table sat right up there at the end of a half-hour uphill slog. Needless to say in the same postal code of the smoking capital of Scotland, that particular picnic table is totally underused, if not certifiably virgin, but hey, not any longer. We had our wicked way and heated a chilli con carne, deflasked a pile of Basmati rice and necked two bottles of red from wealthier times.

And Michael even remembered to pack candles.

Ther's nothing quite like eating volcanically hot chilli with friends and drinking wine at the top of a hill looking out to a seaview of the island of Arran. There was a sufficient window in the weather to allow the candles to burn evenly, and I was left with the feeling that we will all remember that picnic for a long time to come. Not for the food, but for the place and the unlikeliness of eating outside in Scotland at night in April.

We're back at the coalface now, though. Work is beginning to eat me alive, my fiddle playing hasn't improved much but my flute playing has taken an exponential leap forward when I abandoned my godawful Tune-a-Day primer and went off-piste and played real music. Real music, breathily played ( in a previous life I was a smoker, so my playing and hill-walking will always be -gasp -breathy) on a beautiful silver flute. The beautiful flute was a 50th birthday present from Michael which initially felt like more work ( must practise NEW instrument, must get good at flute as well as being average at fiddle and drawing 145 line drawings for the new Witch Baby and bake our own organic bread and, and, and....) but now I'm loving it, loving the sound I make and occasionally really flying. In the way that you can only fly with music.

The other wonderful thing about the flute is that it won't go out of tune in the cold weather. I can sling it in its case in a rucksack and go play at the top of a hill with a view to Arran if that is what my heart desires. Once I've drawn the 145 line drawings and baked the bread, that is.


Mel said...

Lovely. I haven't played my flute in a very, very long time. Someday, I keep telling myself.

We're slightly warmer here, but not by much. I've still been enjoying the sun and trying to make the most of it, when I'm actually awake during daylight hours.

Debi Gliori said...

I hadn't played mine ( flute, that is) since I was fifteen. Aaaargh. The fingering came back pretty quickly, but the embouchure ( or whatever you call it) will take some time.

What has changed is my level of persistence. When I was fifteen I wanted to be perfect NOW, but at the age of fifty, I realise that perfection may never happen, but being good might be a possibility. And to be good, I know I'll have to put in hours and hours of work.

Somehow, the prospect of those endless hours is joyful rather than onerous. Must be an age-thing, I guess.

Alwen said...

I'll bet a silver flute gets mighty cold! I know we always burn our fingers on my mother's hot silver gravy ladles.

bookwitch said...

Cashmere? Silver instruments? No wonder you have to eat cheaply.

Cheshire is warm(ish) and sunny, and I have some sort of cold making me so sensitive to light, I have to hide indoors.

Alison said...

I found my flute in the move. But I haven't played it in over 20 years probably, and I've totally lost the overbite that was once so useful. Maybe when the boys get bored of my clarinet (which has been mouldering for nearly as long) they'll take over the flute as well.

I might be at the borders snb on 30th June... If we get an early enough train up from London!