There was a time when I believed that older people drove more slowly because some essential fire had gone out and, defeated, they’d given up on the seek of thrill. Now I understand it’s just that their eyesight is such that at 70mph they have less time with the road signs in focus than they do at 50.
And, in the same way, I’m beginning to see why older folk might like a nicely kept flower bed.
Once gardens, like tea shops and the slow lane, were the territory of the grey heads. They could be observed strolling and you’d think “bless ’em”. A play park for geriatrics.
Then a couple of years ago I had the oddest sensation. It was envy for those attending the Chelsea Flower Show. Weird, I know.
Lately, I’ve caught myself admiring a drop of rain on the tip of a leaf, the ripples on the foot of a snail and the bonfire shades of municipal flowers. This year, it seems to me that blooms of early summer are more lovely than last year, the skies deeper blue and the dusks particularly magical. What’s going on?
The boys roll their eyes when I point out a clever insect, a stunning view or a radiant sunset. “Yes, mum.”
There’s loveliness everywhere – as persistent as it is fragile. Have you seen it? Next time you do, pause and notice the other thing that happens. With every brilliant egg-yolk petal or dew-jewelled spider’s web you spot, something inside you does a little skip. Soul, heart, spirit – whatever you want to call it. It loves these things and rewards you for admiring them with a happy hop.
It’s what you learn as you get older – just how addictive gob-smackingly gorgeous nature is – even when ordered into serried ranks. After a while you won’t be able to do without the way it makes you feel – but fortunately it’s all around and there for the taking.
So the next time you see some oldies ambling around the lawns of a well-kept park, know that they’re not shuffling tediously away from life – in fact, they’re getting high on it. They’ve simply worked out the quickest and most effective way of doing it.