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moments of quiet

September 1, 2011

As we come to the end of the summer holidays for my elder son, the last few precious days are disappearing in a flurry of laundry, lists, finding lost things (kilt socks, anyone?) and packing. We also have a busy three days ahead, with friends arriving from Spain tomorrow and several other events over the weekend, before school begins on Monday. In amongst the bustle, however, there are still odd moments of quiet to be found. Sometimes it’s when I escape into the woods with my son and the dogs, taking deep breaths of resinous air under the fir trees and looking at the subtle changes in the season. Other times it’s when I am absorbed in some quiet seasonal task, or just taking a precious few minutes – as now – to sit down with a cup of tea before the evening rush of homework (for my younger son), evening meal and boys’ bedtime. These moments are what keep us sane, don’t you think? Here are some illustrations of what I mean: fragments of peace and reflection in a busy day.

Placing apples from the garden to ripen on a windowsill in the larder.

Hanging up cut flowers to dry for winter flower arrangements.

Daily encounters with fungi…

and with deliciously scented late roses, flowering on the castle wall.

Picking the last of the blueberries and the first of the blackberries: delicious on morning granola.

And the small, pleasurable, daily ritual of making a proper pot of tea: two spoonfuls of Ceylon, one of Earl Grey, in a warmed teapot.

Delicious enjoyed in solitude; even better shared with someone you love. Best of all, a mug of tea and a lap full of soppy dog. (She seems rather taken by daddy’s new ‘grouse’ mug, doesn’t she?)

I hope that you, too, find some moments to stop…and br e e e  athe this weekend.


You might enjoy Happiness is cake in the garden and Wintry pleasures.

20 Comments leave one →
  1. Toffeeapple permalink
    September 1, 2011 6:40 pm

    Beautiful images and words. I am so pleased to see that you use a teapot and real tea.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      September 1, 2011 10:42 pm

      Thank you. Properly made tea is one of life’s great pleasures.

  2. September 1, 2011 6:48 pm

    Very beautiful images – how you have captured the colours of early autumn…and your words have captured that sense of slight sadness at the advent of the season of departures and of ‘winding down’ in nature (though I also always think of it as the season of ‘starting up’ of courses and activities – I’ve often thought that September should sometimes be designated New Year for that very reason!).
    Hope your own ‘little bird’ who flies the nest back to school will be happy in the flight and the landing! x

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      September 1, 2011 10:45 pm

      Thank you, Roz, for your kind words and for your lovely thoughts for our little fledgling. I too always feel that September is a mixture of the melancholy of endings and the anticipation of new beginnings. It does feel like a new year: I wonder if we’re all conditioned to think that after years of schooling?!

  3. September 1, 2011 9:01 pm

    I love your quiet reflections and the pictures to illustrate them. I’m coming to the end of a very busy work period and am needing to wind down and relax, but struggling to find the “off” switch! I shall need more walks on the beach I think….and tea…..lots of tea… now I shall have to try your tea mix. I don’t like earl grey as it is too week, but I do quite like the flavour so mix with ceylon sounds a good match….

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      September 1, 2011 10:59 pm

      I completely agree with you about Earl Grey. On its own I think it tastes like soap, but mixed with Ceylon it gives a brightness to what might otherwise be a fairly standard cuppa. Our problem here is finding loose leaf Ceylon, as I seem to be in a minority of people who prefer it to Assam (too strong) or Darjeeling (too wishy-washy). I hope you can find good loose leaf tea in the fine emporia of Stromness! (Hark at us – I think we have the beginnings of a tea club in these comments!)

      Walks on the beach are probably the best way I know to unwind. And you know you really have no excuse for *not* taking regular beach walks, you lucky thing! A walk on one of your beautiful beaches followed by a pot of good tea: that should see you well on your way to relaxation. Good luck.

  4. September 2, 2011 1:28 am

    Now that is the way to appreciate all the small moments! 🙂

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      September 2, 2011 10:51 pm

      Absolutely. 😉

  5. September 2, 2011 8:47 am

    You are LUCKY to have time to savour these seasonal pleasures and to be out of doors. It’s a rare day that I manage to emerge from the office at lunchtime, and the pleasures of home at the weekends are submerged beneath the domestic chores needed to support another full-tilt working and school week. Hmm, city treadmill – time to get off.
    Sorry – this was meant to be an appreciation of your glimpses of calm, which are lovely!

    • September 2, 2011 9:18 am

      Linda said
      ‘Hmm, city treadmill – time to get off.’

      Linda – I think DB’s post has sent a deep and profound message to you…how wonderful that you have heard it – even if only as a whisper. I wish you peace and joy in nature each time to manage to grasp even a few minutes there x
      (and thanking DB for placing the message before us!)

      • dancingbeastie permalink*
        September 2, 2011 11:06 pm

        Oh, Linda, I do feel for you. I vividly remember the city treadmill and how desperate I used to feel for a glimpse of sky and green grass, especially at the turnings of the seasons. And that was before marriage and all the domestic responsibilities that come with it. You’re right, I am lucky, and perhaps my awareness of that is one of the driving forces behind DB: sharing a bit of this quiet beauty with those who have less time and opportunity than I.

        Roz, I think you may have a point there! 🙂

  6. September 2, 2011 7:01 pm

    “Season of mists….” – as I came down off our mountain this morning the visibility was nil – the goldenrod and white astors are in bloom, and here and there a few of the mauve and purple ones are just peeping out. Huge bunches of orage/scarlet berries on the various mountain ash and everywhere the first faint tinges of autumn colours – hedgerows are full of small trees full of apples. We survived the hurricane nicely – just a few gusts of wind and a few hours of power outage and now we slide into the loveliest of seasons. Your post reminded me to stop and watch as the season passes…. although I’m afraid I will never be anything but a drinker of fine coffee while I do so – my dad, who was from England was a confirmed tea drinker who didn’t feel set up for the day unless he had polished off a 12 cup pyrex teapot full before he went out the door in the morning but despite abstractly thinking I might like tea, when it comes down to it – I don’t!
    I’m so glad the Highland Games took place under sunny skies – thanks for sharing your pictures.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      September 2, 2011 11:10 pm

      Your dad sounds as if he could drink tea for England, Janet! As for me, I need good coffee too at various points during the day. I do try to wean myself off the caffeine sometimes and onto tisanes, but it never lasts for long.

      ‘Now we slide into the loveliest of seasons’ – what a poetic way of putting it. I love autumn, and your descriptions remind me of some of the reasons why.

      I’m glad the hurricane had calmed down by the time it reached you. Nova Scotia gets enough wild weather as it is, I’d have thought.

  7. September 2, 2011 7:55 pm

    Thank you Dancing Beastie for the beautiful words and images. I have been scuttling between place a) and place B) and wistfully wanting to “stand and stare”. Which I will do, soon. Having the luxury of this blog to wallow in has been lovely, like a long, warm and scented bath…speaking of scent – have you tried a blend of Earl Grey and Blue Sapphire tea? I am an infrequent weak-tea drinker. “Shamrock tea” my pa used to call it – Three leaves. However the combination of EGT and BST is very pleasing.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      September 2, 2011 11:18 pm

      Oh, you are kind. I like the idea of DB being the online equivalent of a long hot bath! Personally, I probably spend far too much time standing and staring – always have. But then I remember Walter de la Mare’s poem called ‘Farewell’, a version of ‘Carpe diem’: ‘Look thy last on all things lovely every hour…since that all things thou wouldst praise, Beauty took from those who loved them, in other days.’

      Your tea cocktail is unknown to me and sounds intriguing. I shall look out for Blue Sapphire tea now!

  8. September 2, 2011 10:11 pm

    Hello I am back finally I have been busy just like you, that was a really good blog I really enjoyed it!!!!!!!!!! I really liked the parts about the dog staring at a mug, and I just love your rose pictures!!!!!!!!!!!!:) This month is an exciting month for me because it is my 21st Birthday yay!!!!!!!! I hope you write many more blogs, I drink lots of tea too!!!!!!!!

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      September 2, 2011 11:19 pm

      Thank you, Cati!

  9. October 23, 2011 6:46 pm

    I so enjoyed this post and all the lovely comments too. A welcome reminder that there is so much more to life than busyness. One of my mother’s favourite poems was W H Davies’ little poem “Leisure” and she used to quote it at me whenever I said i was too busy to do something. 🙂

    WHAT is this life if, full of care,
    We have no time to stand and stare?—

    No time to stand beneath the boughs,
    And stare as long as sheep and cows:….

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      October 24, 2011 11:54 pm

      Oh, *exactly*. That has always been one of my favourite poems too. It helps to justify my daydreaming, of course but, more than that, I think it really makes a point that is vital for our well-being.

      And yes, I love the comments – often they are what make the post I think!


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