I don’t know what to write. It’s not often the words don’t flow and I feel like a teenager, stilted and awkward in front of the class, stumbling over my words.
Snowdrops and crocuses are nestled around tree trunks and in discarded corners of children’s play areas. The daffodils are peeking up, a hint of yellow still tightly closed in its nub, but teasing with its vividness; stark against a bleak, icy morning.
The days are noticeably longer now. I put dinner on the table and it’s still bright out. As I clear the plates, still the day rages on and the boys head out to the garden after dinner. If there was a glimmer of hope that they wouldn’t need a bath before dinner, it fades fast. They pile mud into plastic tipper trucks, splashing through filthy puddles. I sigh inwardly, knowing that their boots will be lined up along the radiator come bedtime, drying out after their 100th trip through the washing machine.
I briefly consider leaving a glowing review on Amazon for their boots, instead mentally adding it to the to-do list (also known as: things I’ll never get around to).
I spent the morning chopping vegetables – peppers, courgettes, aubergines, sweet potatoes, carrots and tomatoes – and I work through two different pans of Chilli, ready for the freezer. My kitchen is littered with dusty jars of herbs and spices, discarded tins and used knives. There’s delicate splashes of passata along the tiles and cooker. Aubergine skin lays on the floor where I missed the bin completely. I shoo the children into the garden so I can clear up in peace. I like these mornings: the slow, methodical plodding of feeling at home in your kitchen and the knowledge that the freezer is being filled with healthy food to feed hungry children. The smell of paprika and balsamic vinegar entwine and leave me sated. Some days I like to cook. Later the same day, the boys and I make chocolate cake, stuffed with butter icing. As the day comes to a close, I cut myself a slice, thick and crumbling, to enjoy with a cup of the sweetest tea.
We’ve been away from home, unsettled and teary. It’s good to be back, surrounded by the warmth of family culture. I missed these streets I drive on a daily basis, and the people I think of as home. I’ve missed having phone signal.
We celebrate Shrove Tuesday a week late due to the boys being poorly. The table is covered in sticky globs of syrup, the boys dipping their elbows into them. More laundry, as ever.
I don’t want to slip into the habit of running through our week. Wednesday brings….followed by cold Thursdays and then on Friday. The words won’t come loose-limbed and weightless, they are rigid and frozen. Dull.
Yet Saturday, after meeting friends at Shipley Park, we head home. The morning, though icy, has blossomed into a beautiful day. We throw open the patio doors and we sweep, we tidy, we clean, we prune, we paint…..we slough off winter with a fury. And my God, does it feel good.
The sun on our faces and the cold nipping our fingertips- there’s no finer feeling. Calling time on another day, I run the bath for the boys, absentmindedly sluicing the water to create mountains of bubbles for them. I love winter, but today was the first day I anticipated barefoot afternoons on the grass, a BBQ, hanging laundry on the line. Days where a hot bath are so far away and instead, cool showers take precedence.
Maybe with the last few days of winter folding themselves neatly away, like ironed handkerchiefs tucked into drawers or embroidered tablecloths stacked in the cupboard, the looser days of spring can weave through us and remind us that no matter how hard the winter, the warmth never ceases to return. The snowdrops, always the first delicate sign that the hard frosts are saying their final goodbyes. With the daffodils comes the sun, slung low in the sky, treating us to mere glimpses of what it never fails to deliver.
It doesn’t matter that I’m struggling to write. It doesn’t matter that everyone is tired of winter. It doesn’t matter how heavy your heart is. Spring will come again.