What counts

January always seems to bring drifts of numbers. I gather them up into neat daily stacks and string lines between the peaks to observe the trend. The daily kilo count (I stick to metric as it feels less real than imperial) hovers minutely up and down, refusing to transform to a downhill slide. My tally of steps walked forms jagged peaks and troughs, surprisingly uncorrelated with the weather. Words written trend slowly upwards, but fall stubbornly short of the 1000 a day target assumed more in hope than expectation. (I am happy though to have found a way back into my rambling epic after the rather dry patch which set in when events overtook me in the summer – so should not complain). The only point of relatively consistent achievement is the one a day photograph for #365in2023 (and even that’s missing a few – the prompt “Aurora” for one – dawn and I rarely meet….). Today, as Mum and I trudged, and Lyra scampered blissfully, around the riverside in dismal weather, I found myself compulsively adding to various tallies. 36 swans, two herons one rainbow. In the end I was rescued from this uncomfortable tic by the ducks. Jostled by the wind from the shelter of the long grass into the fast flowing current, they shot past too fast to count.

Looking back, I now see that the week’s step count simply got off to an unsustainably high start on Monday when we yomped around the fields towards Simprim in bright sunshine for a good two hours watching three deer out for a jolly and tracking a mystery bird deep in the thicket above the longest rabbit warren (it remained tantalisingly just out of focus). I was field testing the new wellies and keen to put them through their paces. Alas, the traditional two pairs of socks proved a bit much and there was an unseemly wrestling match to get the right one off half way round. The right foot will definitely only accommodate one. The left must be smaller and I left that one alone but then became convinced it was starting to feel damp. Puddle splashing and a walk through the pond shallows followed. The left outer sock was definitely a bit wet on returning. Lachlan’s scornful diagnosis was a sweaty foot brought on by excess sockage. Being unwilling to stand in the pond for a minute longer just to prove a point, the question was shelved. Since then I have trotted out single socked to left and right and the sinister wellie’s performance remains under close scrutiny.

Tuesday brought copious rain and mud and, thinking the trees might offer more shelter, we took to the Hirsel woods. Lyra had a blast scampering up and down the bankings whilst Mum and I largely reenacted Passchendale down below. As is her wont on less familiar territory, the flufster got thoroughly lost when she decided to explore the furthest tip of the steepest bank. After much fruitless whistling and calling I swarmed up, fought my way through the thicket and strongly recommended a rather less vertiginous way down. A brief respite sedately watching, or rather listening to, the birds on the lake followed. I had never managed to isolate the call of the swans before but this time a rather large fellow sailed past me quite distinctly making basso profundo grunts, a bit like a donkey. Who knew?? We returned, at Lyra’s behest but against all better judgement, the long way. More mud. The day’s photo a day prompt was “pluvia” – latin for rain (they are all in latin which is a bit of a challenge as I’ve forgotten almost all of mine) so Mum had to endure copious lingering by muddy puddles and soggy undergrowth whilst I took my shots. “Don’t go falling down there” came the sage advice as I dangled out over a likely looking stump bearing overlapping plates of fungus. Well quite! Fumbling in my fleece for gloves after the soggy photoshoot I missed the comforting flying saucer of the car keys and had a brief qualm, thinking of the previous banking scrambling. It was with not a little relief that I found it in my trouser pockets. Back a the car I checked the stepometer and we were both disgusted with the result. On the drive back there was much dark muttering on the topic of an adverse conditions uplift.

With various jobs to do on Wednesday entailing much driving about, bank visiting and what have you, we took a severe hit on the step count and today’s efforts were intended to reflate the average somewhat. However, the driving rain beat us back and mum and I did the shorter circuit, hoping for a wind assisted return. The wind strafing only the left side of our faces proved only marginally better than in your face sleet and we completed the oddessey, hands clamped to the side of our heads, looking like ambulatory Munch figures. The step counter yet again failed to reflect atmospheric impacts fairly………. Today’s photo prompt was Inicio – beginning. This squeaks perilously close to dawn, but I decided in the end on a mid morning lie-in shot taken from bed – a late beginning is still a beginning. This feels like a slight cheat but thankfully, this effort, together with some earlier jottings probably made up my 1000 words so one target at least has been achieved. Time for a celebratory sweetie. I think I may give up counting altogether at the end of the week and return to my usual holistic, qualitative overview. Life as a quant is not for me….

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