A Place to Sleep

This afternoon I curled up on the couch under a blanket and read a book. It is cold in this stone house so beneath the blanket I also wore wooly tights and slippers and fingerless gloves. And yet husband sat upstairs with the window open while he tapped away at his laptop, analyzing Google ad words. The taps turned into thumps as they streamed down the stairwell and reverberated over my head. Twice the sound of a music box or carousel or ice cream truck—surely it’s too cold for ice cream?— almost lured me to the window to investigate its source. Each time the twinkly song faded before I was motivated from my cocoon.The electric heaters in each room seem to be placed for aesthetics more than utility. All are next to doors or windows so most of the expensive heat they do produce is instantly leeched away. If there was a fire this afternoon, which there was not, the flames would have beat against the glass door of the stove making a sound loud enough that I once got out of bed to look thinking there was some kind of ruckus going on in the narrow pedestrian lane behind our cottage where the local teenagers like to march up and down and strew with candy wrappers and Red Bull cans. Today there was only the pleasant cacophony of keyboard thumps and the clicking refrigerator, the latter of which I suspect is a war wound from its tenure in the floods. The absence of noise in the countryside amplifies what sound there is. There’s the predictable stuff like birds and church bells, but also the whistle of wind blowing through hollow metal gate posts on an afternoon walk, a sort of homemade woodwind, and the booming noises on our morning run, like base heavy gunshots or little explosions from a quarry. We used to hear the same noise each weekend morning from our little rental cottage in G.P., but I still don’t know what makes it.I ran into my two favourite shepherds the other night at the wine bar. As usual I started quizzing them about sheep farming, and for some reason felt the need to enquire if sheep are brought inside at night in this cold weather. The answer is no, but in the process of telling me this D. also explained the origin of the word Cotswold, which I was surprised I don’t know after almost a year of being here. Wold means rolling hills and cot refers to an old stone sheep shelter. It literally means a place to sleep in the hills, which reminded me of one of the reasons we were motivated to buy a cottage here to start: to escape from the noise of our London flat.

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