I awoke this morning to a new sound. It was not the deep, effervescent rumbling of the hot water tank boiling as it does when the Rayburn stove in the kitchen (which heats the water) is too hot, nor was it the melodious trill of twittering birds perched on the atop the Rayburn’s chimney, who’s songs are piped directly into, and amplified by, the stove itself.
No, this morning I was greeted by the sound of a persistently squeaky wheel. It first rolled through my dreams and carried on as the first pieces of the bedroom began to take shape in the fuzzy morning light. As the walls, floors and windows all found their places, the sound of the little wheel remained remained unanchored to any physical thing. I scanned the surroundings. Above me a little fly struggled against a spider’s web. No, couldn’t be. Just then, I saw a movement out of the corner of my eye. Stepping unsteadily across the floor of the closet that houses the hot water heater was a little mouse. It was not round and furry, but slick as a mink and thin as a finger.
I watched it as it paused for a moment by the door. Warm there—no squeaking now. Then this little, junior mouse ventured out onto the broad white rug next to the bed treading with the blockish, overly mechanical steps of childhood. Uncommitted to any particular direction, its head swayed back and forth, sniffing if perhaps left might be any better than right.
When it sniffed upwards it spotted me staring down at him, shaggy from sleep, and propped up on one elbow. I can’t be certain of what went through its head at that moment but the shock of, “Big thing!” must have had a somewhat paralytic effect. I imagined it realized that I was still too sluggish to be of any danger, and came to its wits. It then hurried back into the closet as a child might. Later in the morning I went and put a sliver of cheese in there, no trap.
For the past few weeks hundreds of flowers have sprung up on the island. They come in wave after wave, gathering on the paths as they do on Gugh, or standing in open fields. The patch behind the resources field where, a couple of weeks ago, we were gathering granite for the gig shed, now has Paperwhites standing in it. The bracken crowded into the fields across from the Island Hall is now fighting for space with a throng of daffodils marching through in columns five abreast.
I walked all through Jon’s family’s farm, now all fallow, and picked as many as I could hold in one hand. Each bloom is some combination of yellow, white and orange—always two colors out of the three—and put them in a big, clay jar on the kitchen table. When I came back from Sunday lunch at the pub, the house was absolutely swimming in the thick, musky-sweet scent.