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Friday, 22 April 2011

Like many a hired hand before me, I move into a trailer













A couple of days ago I suggested that the word for that murky, dank weather was ‘dreek’. I have since been advised by a Scottish correspondent that it might be spelled ‘dreich’. Objection sustained. I stand corrected.

Today, however, is unequivocally bracing. ‘Bracing’ is when you take your kids to the beach (I’m talking about England here), the wind is whipping up the sand and scarifying your goose-pimpled skin, the temperature is about 61 degrees (wind-chill 44) and the little buggers want to go and play in the North Sea, which is approaching its summer peak of 52. ‘Bracing’, you say. It’s a way of persuading yourself that this will be good for you, even though it’s freezing your nuts off. I should add that after I was issued a towel and a bar of floating soap (yes, soap that floats) and forced to bathe in the Baltic some years ago (the place I was staying had no running water) the North Sea suddenly seemed balmy by comparison.

Anyway, bracing: that’s what it’s like out on the range this morning – and it hasn’t half given me an appetite. The sun is shining, there’s a stiff breeze from the southwest, and the meadowlarks are singing. The predominant colours just now are still a kind of part-pink part-russet (I think that’s the bunch-grass) and a silvery green (most likely sage). There are great swathes of bunch-grass which, when the clouds come down and the mist hangs in the air, seems to turn a much rustier, almost orange colour; in conditions like that it almost glows as the light fades, reminding me of the dead bracken that’s so familiar to us Brits. There’s still precious little green out there, but with yet more rain in the night we can expect the grass, when it does get going, to be pretty healthy.

I’ve posted a rather nice shot of the red house taken from rising ground a few hundred yards to the south. If you look very carefully you can see it - and note how it nestles in that curve of the river.

As for the other pictures – of men, plus dog, wrestling with a trailer – well, that has to do with the turkey hunters, who will be driving in from West Virginia on Sunday. They will take over the house and this shy, retiring writer will retreat to his mobile lair and work out how to ingratiate himself with them to the point where they have to offer him a turkey; or sell him one. Then he’ll try and figure out what to do with it.

The trailer has electricity, bottled gas and running water and is very cosy (or cozy: take your pick).

Today I have to go to the post office, a 25-mile round trip. I am sending money to my brother, who lives in Kentucky. He has spotted an ‘as new’ top-of-the-range short-wave radio on eBay and is going to mail it out to me. I come from a family of five. Three were born before the (1939-45) War and I grew up not knowing them too well. Next came the ‘victory baby’, born just nine months after my father got back from Italy. I was an afterthought. We two sort of grew up together and were both crazy about American TV shows, music, cars, even history. At one time we both wanted to come and live here. He made it, as a preacher, in 1992. I finally lost the urge. I like my life in the north of England, and am happy to keep enjoying the western states as a visitor.

Now, grub or work? Tough call.