I was reading Elizabeth's evocative post this morning, and was struck by her phrase "the silence which was not silence". I started to think, and to listen. A plane high overhead. Distant traffic sounds. A cat, washing itself (wetly, noisily, so has to be Hamish). The wind. The ping of an incoming email. Little else; it is Sunday, and the weather isn't tempting anyone to linger outdoors. It's not silent, but for a city street, it is quiet.
My house is often quiet. Cats and dog sleep for hours, I potter, and read, and sometimes forget to speak even to the animals. It's an atmosphere of calm and tranquillity that I cultivate, knowing that this is what I myself need, and they respond. If disturbed, they blink sleepily at me and stretch, then tuck their noses into their bedding or under their tails. They may go outside, to sit on yard walls or under the bench, their attention taken by a fluttering leaf or an ant. Nothing much may happen for hours in their little lives, at least until dinnertime.
Today it is slightly different. It's windy, in that gusty, unsettling way, with occasional squally showers that beat urgently on the window panes. It sprang up suddenly, causing huge clattering rushes of cats through the cat flap, indignant that they should be made wet with such force, and with so little warning. A wet cat (Lottie) is a friendly cat, wanting up onto my knee, tapping me with an outstretched paw.
Then all settles down.
No one calls, no one phones; it's a Bank Holiday weekend. My whole family is abroad, my brother living in America, my sister still in Greece, my son in Cambodia (he texts from Angkor Wat; says he's all templed out). I stop reading (Chris Mullin's oddly-engrossing political diaries) and bake some cheese and herb scones - I have just enough Cheddar and parmesan in the fridge to make a batch.
Only after they have been stamped out into squares (I have a friend whose auntie always maintained that savoury scones should be square, and sweet or plain ones round) do I realise that I have left out the butter - how could I have forgotten the first step, the rubbing-in of fat into flour?
Never mind, too late now; they are baked, and heavy. Edible, I suppose, but hardly up to scratch. Leaving them in the oven for a while helps them to dry out a little, but does nothing for their looks. Before they have cooled, Roger and Tim, home from Mull, call in with gifts: handmade soaps, an assortment of tiny sweet tomatoes, some almost dark brown, and plums from their tree. They oblige me by eating two of my scones.
Later, the dog and I go out for a walk, in a biting wind. It feels autumnal, but not in a mellow, kind way, more of a hint of harsher days to come. I contemplate buying a new winter coat soon.
The house is quiet again, but with the added muffled roar of the central heating boiler. Time to put the kettle on, time to settle in for the evening. A quiet Sunday, almost over.