Knitting after baths, with wet hair ...
The dark days of winter. I feel so tied in with this season. We are wading through the dark, through flu, which I had, and then had again and have only just really, really, left behind me.
The girls both had a day in bed, both shake things off quickly. Boo, who has never had an antibiotic, never seen a doctor, only ever drank raw, unpasteurised milk, straight from the goat, never ate half the rubbish the rest of us wasted our immune systems upon, shrugs it off in a day.
On Friday, (Neil's) Mum and Dad came to stay, we went out for a lovely meal - on Saturday, H was supposed to be competing. We made it through the floods, but sadly, no one else did! So there was no competition! She jumped four clear rounds and enjoyed her outing.
Then I collapsed. Then in the evening, we went to Claverton by Candlelight - at the American Museum in Bath - Neil bought us all a drink, including for the girls, organic milk. Boo sniffed it and said it was pasteurised, and she couldn't drink it. We told her not to be silly. She drank a few mouthfuls, then said she really, really couldn't drink it. So we threw it away, grumpily. Ten minutes later, she was violently, terribly, sick. Then she was OK. 'It was the milk' she said cheerily, 'I told you. Pasteurised, homogeonised milk is really, really bad for you.'
Does your nine year old say things like that?!
As her father pointed out, she's right though.
On Sunday, I made it to morning service - then I collapsed! - so everyone else went out to the evening one, and I slept.
On Monday, I missed chapel carols as I was so ill, and finally capitulating, took an evil decongestant, to get me through Guides. Then I collapsed.
Today, praise God, it has gone, well, nearly.
And now Neil's got it! On average, he's sick a couple of days a year - I am so blessed - but tomorrow will be one of them. Unaccustomed, at the helm, with my two brave stalwarts beside me, the weather will come at me, and I - I who should be baking gingerbread and finally sending Christmas cards - will tackle the hills and the flooded troughs, the windblown, unmotivated chickens, the fat pre-destined geese, the tangled headstrong sheep and frowning bearded unwelcoming goats - I will battle with high winds and cold milking pails, I will march undaunted into the rain with hay in my face and a song in my heart. Because I wouldn't ever, ever have it any other way.
This is God's season. This primitive darkness, this cold, this threat - no wonder the celts waited for the solstice, and then celebrated - the turn of the year is something for which I hunger! I long for it, with every fibre. How short the days are, how cold. How deep the mud, how numbing the struggle, to keep everything dry, and warm, and well, and just keep going. God knew. God knew this was the time we should think about the Word made Flesh. This longing, this yearning.
We celebrate the solstice in this home, in the truest sense - oh! that turn of the year! New hope! Spring will come, it will. The days will lengthen, the pain will ease, the endless, dark, pointless days of toil will be over, hauling hay across sodden slopes, slipping and sliding down rutted tracks, crawling up and down stairs with trays and soothing teas, all of them will fade in a shaft of spring sunlight, a snowdrop, a breath of secret, intoxicating spring air, the taste of hope and belief and the unfathomable mystery of new life out of the darkness.
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