‘Wer kein Kopf hat, hat Pfoten’, my Tante Mole would say, whenever she left her spectacles uptunnel or the marmalade so long on the stove that it congealed in the saucepan.
‘Auf Englisch’, her companion, Matthilde, would then chide. ‘The little one will not understand otherwise. “Who no head has, has paws”.’
Of course the little one understood. This and countless other wisdoms bore daily repetition. The little one was a deal more familiar with ‘kein Kopf’ than with the times table.
I have been being busy. My apologies for inflicting a sentence that bears the hallmarks of an English grammar exercise, but nothing else will do. A simple ‘I have been busy’ would imply that the busyness has been imposed, but I want to be quite clear that the problem lies between my ears. Yes, I have taken rather more on than one mole can manage, but the point of kein Kopf is that busyness begets busyness. I was letting several tasks bleed into each other, was doing one task but thinking of a second and third. By Wednesday I was so frazzled I overslept by two hours and had to relinquish my morning stroll up Knocklofty.
But then, in the afternoon, I lay my podgy self on a treatment table and my dear acupuncturist performed a choice piece of needling. It was the harmonising Zero Point that sent ripples down my pelt. In the human ear Zero Point is at the junction of the conchal ridge and the root of the ascending helix, but imagine the precision and dexterity required to perform this delicate operation on a creature like me. We moles, as you know, have no outer ears – no concha, nothing to perk or twitch or turn to the breeze. Nothing to needle, you would think.
That night I slept a deep sleep, the sleep of an unburdened mind. In the blackness of the pre-dawn, I vaulted from my snug little bed, sniffed the air and moseyed up Knocklofty. There was a time when such blackness alarmed me, when I imagined no-good-boyos lurking behind the trees, but not on this morning. It is true that it wasn’t pitch dark – I have taken to wearing a headlamp, especially since my chum Acorn tumbled off some rocks and broke her paw.
There was a hint of dawn as I neared the summit. I sat myself on a hand-hewn bench and watched streaks of orange breaking through the low, leaden cloud. I sat and watched the orange suffuse the cloud and tint the water of the estuary. I sat and waited while the earth tilted itself towards the sun, and I never once had a thought for anything except what was unfolding before my eyes.
My paws had brought me to a place where I had no need of my head.