Catkins New Year's DayJust a normal day. What is a ‘normal day’? Especially in this time of the pandemic when even our most mundane days have suddenly been rendered topsy-turvy and inside-out until we wonder if anything will ever be ‘normal’ again.

I began to recognise and appreciate normal days some years ago. One sunny October day I had taken myself for a walk around the lake in our village. I sat on a bench in the sunshine for a while and mused about my day and the family – I had left all our felines curled up in their own sunny patches of garden at home… our dog was happily snooting in the bushes besides me… my husband and son both had gainful employment which they were reasonably happy with… I had a simple evening meal already prepared for us. As far as I knew, no one was sick… no one was upset about anything… there was nothing particularly worrying me… I was looking forward to a nice meal and evening of talk and laughter with my loved ones. Nothing out of the ordinary, you might say.

It was then that I realised just how utterly extraordinary this day was, for days such as these when all is balanced and pleasant and stress-free are actually few and far between. I came to understand how incredibly precious it was to be able to sit in the sun and feel at complete peace. More, how amazingly privileged I was to actually be able to recognise it… to realise my wonderful situation and be able to step back and really observe myself in my life and acknowledge how blessed I was that particular day.

I suspect that we all might experience more incredibly wonderful normal days  than we realise, if we just take a few moments to evaluate what is actually happening and how we are actually feeling within our own small sphere of existence. I enjoyed another such flash of understanding a few days ago. I had been baking all day and was just sitting down around mid-afternoon with a cup of tea, ready to literally put my feet up and enjoy a well-earned break. Suddenly, it dawned upon me what an breathtakingly lovely day it was and how deeply contented and happy I truly felt. My son was out in the garden tinkering with his chainsaw and chopping logs… my husband was pottering about by the garage replacing a hinge on one of the big old wooden doors… all the animals were curled up snoozing in the warmth from the Aga… the clock ticked sonorously… the table lamps cast a warm glow into the shadows… a savoury stew bubbled promisingly in the oven… birds chattered outside the window as they swooped in to eat from our bird feeders… the mountains looked gloriously majestic in their ice and cloud-topped state… earlier we had all been teasing and laughing with each other… how normal everything was – and how utterly precious.

Excitement is all very well, but a great deal of it stems from unexpected events which can also bring shock and trauma. Even the nicest kinds of excitement can be inverted into disappointment as the anticipated pleasure frequently doesn’t live up to our expectations – or leaves us feeling exhausted and burned out.

We live in strangely uncertain times – these Twenty-first Century days of  stultifying regulations and restrictions thrust upon us, curtailing and altering our lives, sometimes almost beyond recognition; when illness, loss and grief can pierce our daily existence at any time without warning, changing it forever.

Therefore, my most heartfelt wish for us all is that we all may enjoy many, many normal days.