There was a brightness in the sunlight that seemed to celebrate the passing of the equinox, the darkness was again beaten, the light had regained its dominance. There was still a chillness in the air, a film of ice on the car windscreen, but it was an exhilarating cold, one that brought alive the senses.
Driving the road towards Tewkesbury, trees starkly outlined against the morning sky were a reminder that winter was recent, leafless, they were skeletal silhouettes. A mist lay across the fields and there was a hint of wood smoke in the air, someone considering the stove still necessary to take the edge off of the air.
There was a temptation to stop, just to take a few minutes to ponder the beauty of the morning. From the memory there arose a thought of a beautiful passage in Alexander McCall-Smith’s The Number One Ladies’ Detective Agency, a passage that would have urged me to pull over and to relish the moment:
“She breakfasted quickly and then drove directly to the office. It was getting towards the end of winter, which meant that the temperature of the air was just right, and the sky was bright, pale blue, and cloudless. There was a slight smell of wood-smoke in the air, a smell that tugged at her heart because it reminded her of mornings around the fire in Mochudi. She would go back there, she thought, when she had worked long enough to retire. She would buy a house, or build one perhaps, and ask some of her cousins to live with her. They would grow melons on the lands and might even buy a small shop in the village; and every morning she could sit in front of her house and sniff at the wood-smoke and look forward to spending the day talking with her friends. How sorry she felt for white people, who couldn’t do any of this, and who were always dashing around and worrying themselves over things that were going to happen anyway. What use was it having all that money if you could never sit still or just watch your cattle eating grass? None, in her view; none at all, and yet they did not know it. Every so often you met a white person who understood, who realised how things really were; but these people were few and far between and the other white people often treated them with suspicion”.
On such a morning in an English springtime, the wisdom of Precious Ramotswe was apparent.