I had in many ways an eccentric childhood. Both parents had degrees in English, and I was accustomed to quotations forming such an integral part in the fabric of conversation that I was often surprised to come across what I thought of as family sayings cropping up in Marlowe or Shakespeare. One such familiar saying was "If all the year were playing holidays, To sport would be as tedious as to work."* I was so enamoured of our annual two months on Arran in an estate cottage that I never wanted the holiday to end, so this was one I preferred to ignore.
But it struck me today as I walked in the sunshine between the pale fields where the grass has been taken in a second cut already - the tractor and accompanying machine were cutting and baling, spewing out great rolls of black plastic-wrapped hay to roll across a distant corner - it struck me that all the year, as it stands right now, is a "playing holiday" and yes, in many ways it has become tedious. Apart from the normal business of keeping the two of us fed and in clean clothes, I do nothing - not for the common good, not for anyone. I even have people doing my shopping.
And then, of course, the guilt steps in. How dare I entertain such thoughts? There are people living in cities, living in flats, living among dusty streets and too many houses, who would think a walk like today's, taken within a reasonable distance from home, was a walk in Paradise. Of course it was. I was aware of the beauty, the fresh air, the birdsong, the freedom. A few cars passed, a tractor, a couple of cyclists ... and then silence. It was perfect.
But without the constraints of other obligations, without the huvtaes that do some good for other people, it feels like being on a perpetual holiday, filling the time till dinner and bed. And that's not good.
Blipping the view from beside the huge old tree that seems each year to be more and more dead, looking north-west to where the clouds hung, the clouds that we'd avoided by coming south for our walk.
*Henry IV Part 1; Shakespeare.