My Arctic Heart

Readers in the Southern hemisphere may find it more difficult to relate to aspects of this post than readers, say, in the Russian Federation. Or Sussex, where I live, on the south coast of Britain.

I’ve had a few days off work (just taking some time back having worked more days than my usual 3 a week at the end of last year).  I planned a ride today into the countryside – it’s been a while since I spent the best part of a  day in the saddle.  I thought I’d take a route along the coast before heading north into some lovely villages and beautiful views.  I knew it was coming, but was hoping it would only arrive after I had gone back to work.  This morning the snow has arrived.

Well, frost, actually.

To say that my spirit and enthusiasm for a ride melted is a corny way of puting it, but a glance outside from the comfort of my warm home and I was making other plans.

I can just see the disappointed, weary shake of your head, dear reader.

Instead I plumped for an 8 mile round trip across town to my brother’s cafe for mushrooms on toast and a nice cup of tea.

It’s not all or nothing.

But that’s not how it feels when there really are snow drifts outside my window. And inside my head.

It’s dangerous to cycle in icy conditions.  A few degrees colder and the roads really will start to become hazardous.  It’s at times like that that I take the bus.

My Psychiatrist tells me that I can take it a bit easier when I’m not feeling well. Maybe go into the office a bit later, leave an hour early.  Go to bed at 10 instead of 11p.m. I’ll be saying the same thing to the Peers I support (and who support me).

It’s not all or nothing.

Easier said than done, dear reader, easier said than done.

I live half way up a hill.  It gets frostier up there sooner than it does in town.  The frost melts away as the morning staggers into life.  I know all this.  First thing in the morning is not always the moment to decide. Eggs or cereal for breakfast, maybe; but what it’s like outside (and inside my head) not sensible. 300mgs of Quetiapine taken later than 10.30p.m. the night before and I am not going to be threading anything through the eye of a needle before 8a.m. the next mornning.

It’s not all or nothing.

I can wait a bit.  Have breakfast.  Pop out and buy the paper.  Put on a washing load.  But in conditions like this I need a pick axe to splinter the ice that has sealed my soul. I don’t have to ride 80 miles there and back, stopping for a coffee and riding up the Dyke (a relentless 2 mile climb).  On days like these I can just free – wheel across town to my brother’s place for breakfast.

It’s not all or nothing. On days like these I can just sit and wait… and wait…for my arctic heart to begin to thaw.

Schoolboys in Winter

The schoolboys still their morning ramble take
To neighboring village school with playing speed,
Loitering with passtime’s leisure till they quake,
Oft looking up the wild-geese droves to heed,
Watching the letters which their journeys make;
Or plucking haws on which their fieldfares feed,
And hips and sloes; and on each shallow lake
Making glib slides, where they like shadows go
Till some fresh passtimes in their minds awake.
Then off they start anew and hasty blow
Their numbed and clumpsing fingers till they glow;
Then races with their shadows wildly run
That stride huge giants o’er the shining snow
In the pale splendour of the winter sun.

John Clare (1793 – 1864)

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