It's been weeks since I last posted. We went skiing for a few days last month, which gave me a healthy break from the chores at home and actually some time away from myself and my own cluttered mind and my need to write. At some point on holiday I looked down from a chairlift and traced the path of animal prints in the diamond-flecked snow and just soaked up the beauty of it. That is what has stayed with me.
Home again, and we got back into the rhythm of school and after-school and everything else that entails. There were those evenings when the children wanted the easle, then they wanted paint, not crayons, oh and paper, not that kind. Someone was missing a paintbrush, someone was hungry. Jack, has an amazing ability to find pencils and he was no doubt trotting around with them tight in his fist. I often tell his brothers to ask if they want something from Jack, not to grab, but to use their words - 'Look!' I say as I hold out my hand, 'he can be very obliging'. That night I'm sure I pulled the pencils from his grasp, one after another. Tonight, boys are circling me with demands and requests without, I'm afraid, a hint of manners. I am trying to finish a chicken pie and the task is rolling out the pastry. I have visions of this happening in my farmhouse-style kitchen, fresh flowers on the table, shafts of sunshine picking out the mist of flour as I endeavor to cook wholesome food for my family. In fact, it is raining, the defrosted pastry is too hard and the kitchen floor is a hazard of toys. I bang the pastry hard with my rolling pin. Exercising my frustration can at least have some practical purpose here. Everyone stops in their tracks.
'Enough demands, I am trying to cook supper' I say.
Max disappears next door and I hear him picking out notes on the keyboard. I know I will not respond well if the volume is turned up and dark, loud chords are thrashed out of the instrument. Luckily it remains quiet, even soothing, one key at a time. The pastry gets rolled. Max returns.
'Did you like the piano?'
'I was trying to give you something relaxing.'
My parents came to visit the other week which was wonderful. As their taxi pulled away at the end of the week, both Max and Oli burst into tears. 'It's sometimes sad to say goodbye' I told them and Oli now reminds me of that regularly, even when no-one is going anywhere.
What happened after that was that Dom left for a trip to Japan and Taiwan and with evenings to myself, I began watching documentaries that I knew I wouldn't have persuaded Dom to watch if he'd been there. First it was one on the US food industry. That got me a little wary and mildly depressed. Then I found a website where you can watch documentaries for free and I feasted on all versions of the apocalypse, exclusively related to climate change. Now I am properly terrified....but I want to keep you, my dear, only, reader, so I will try to veer away from these dark tendencies and put my energy into practical solutions. Yesterday we planted a vegetable patch of peas surrounded by concentric circles of carrots, broccoli and basil. It sits proudly where the fountain used to be. I say 'fountain' but it was really just a large circular tray where mosquitos bred in the muddy water left over from the rains. Thanks to my Dad for getting that concrete beast out! And so here I am, back in the blogging saddle, a little rested, a little weary, a little terrified, a little cheery and hoping to see green shoots in the garden very shortly.