Reminders of Dee - and me.

I keep on finding odd things in odd places - some trivial memorabilia that at the same time takes away my breath and brings my lady back.  The other day I came across a scallop shell. Its corrugated outside bore my painted inscription, "Happy Birthday, Dee" and inside I'd painted a rainbow and the names we had given to twenty three of our local walks, all of them off-track, none where we were likely to come across any other walkers: "The beech wood", "Beach four", "The caves", "The secret river" etc etc. I remembered that shell was my present for her sixtieth birthday 1n 2004. The fact that she kept it over the years in a secure place with other items of great value to her - well, for me emotional and thought-provoking, both.

I thought about me losing all of our worldly wealth on a business venture in Saudi Arabia, then re-basing ourselves with a pantecnicon full of furniture etc in a rented crofthouse here in the north Scottish Highlands; me, Dee and our pair of Hungarian Vizslas, Sorosh and Mati. I was going to write that novel/s, make us rich and me famous. Meantime I would paint landscapes for some kind of a living. I thought about having very little pension income and very small capital. For the first time in my life I (we) was actually 'poor'. Poor to the extent of rationing our use of electricity, reading the meter daily, of eating lots of free of charge wild provender - shellfish, berries, mushrooms et al - of calculating the cost in petrol of our each and every car journey, etc.

I also thought about having no debts, of having owed nothing to any bank or to anybody since 1989.

Another name for our situation: freedom.

Freedom to walk each and every mid-day with our dogs, discovering those wild and lonely and indescribably beautiful  places listed in private names on that scallop shell, back packs loaded with our picnic lunch of soup or coffee and sandwiches. Sometimes she would include a surprise treat for me; chocolate biscuit, piece of fruit, little message for my eyes only. We would make our way in all weathers, winter and summer to the listed, out of the way beaches or the high hills, there to sit on a favourite rock or fallen tree trunk, always with a favourite view, sometimes talking about the world or our family or local things and sometimes not needing to talk at all: sometimes simply love within the loveliness ...

Well, I've written my novels and short stories and published them for myself without becoming rich or famous. I suppose there's still time for that. I've made a kind of living from my paintings and their derivatives - cards, prints, calendars etc. Mati and Sorosh have long been gone and now Dee is with them and with our previous much loved pair of Vizslas, Seth and Chloe. And me? I'm on my own but not on my own for I have many friends and all of our family and memories and expectations and I can look at over the loch to the distant hills and soon perhaps I shall walk our scallop shell walks once more.

I am not disappointed with life or with my life.

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