This last week brought with it illness; lethargy and colds that languished within us until the days tumbled into the start of a new week.

The day started early. As dawn receded leaving a thick layer of mist clinging to the day, I made a picnic. Bright, round tangerines and scarlet strawberries lent the scent of summer to a cold, frosty morning. We gathered up hats, gloves and welly boots before setting off to a disused quarry to blow away cobwebs and restore a vitality that comes only from being outside.

It’s fast becoming an old favourite, the quarry. The boys search, excitement palpable, for fossils embedded in rocks the perfect size to take home and add to their collections. Enormous heaps of gravel allow them to create more laundry for me by sliding down on their bottoms. Boulders become ladders, high backed chairs, stepping stones. The only limit is their imagination. They sit, drinking hot chocolate to warm their fingers, with flushed faces; noses tinged pink with the temperature that fails to rise much above zero.

The sky, clotted with mist only an hour before, is cloudless. The heavens split open into thin trails of colour which seeped seamlessly into the brightest of blue. The boys’ shouts and laughter echoed around the empty quarry, bouncing off rock and delighting the three of them, over and over.

We return home, wellies full of mud and gravel, with dirty hands and bags full of fossils. Three tired boys slump in the back of the car.

The days are lengthening and I wonder why it’s taken me so long to notice. Each day it takes a few moments longer before darkness swallows the remnants of light embracing the edges. Spring is just around the corner, warmth creeping into the days as they pass. But for now, these frosty mornings with thin, wintry sunshine will do me just fine.

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