Saturday, December 26, 2009

Drifting Towards the New Year

Boxing Day: a day out of time. I awoke before 5am with creasing stomach pains (almost certainly due to conspicuous overindulgence over the preceding 18 hours) and took myself off downstairs to get a cup of tea and a hot-water bottle. Propping myself up in bed, I attempted to tackle a few pages of Vygotsky's Thought and Language and before long, slid slowly down the pillows into a comfortable enough doze which lasted until gone 9am. By the time we'd all got downstairs it was eleven o'clock and the rest of the day has followed a similar chronologically dislocated form. We've just had French bread, cheese and grapes for lunch, but it's actually just getting dark! Taking the Dog out earlier, the Bright-Eyed Boy and I skittered about perilously on the icy pavement hummocks and decided to forge rather more safely across the still-virgin snow in the park. It's meteorologically very strange: not really freezing, but lethally slippy underfoot where the untreated footpaths have been compacted down. Glad we don't have far to go in the next few days.
When I was very young (three or four) at this time of year we regularly made our way down in our three-wheeler car, in all winds and weather, from the central Highlands of Scotland to visit my widowed granny in her freezing bungalow that smelt of furniture polish. She wasn't the most affectionate or attentive of grandparents and I remember being stupefyingly bored, with nothing to do (no telly) and no-one to talk to, or to play with. Because it was a very long way from Perthshire to Gloucestershire, we generally stayed for a few days, sleeping in the chilly guest room. Never a late riser, I would join Granny first thing in the kitchen as she lit the range and prepared a gloopy sort of porridge, sweetened with saccharine (she was diabetic) on the hotplate. All this was accompanied by a sort of muttered German commentary, the contents of which were a mystery to me. Occasionally we would drop over to visit my paternal uncle and his three children (all older than me) who lived in the next village. I remember the year when there were the most tremendously high snowdrifts (probably the winter of 62-63) and we played out until our hands ached and our feet were blue with the cold inside grown-up sized wellies. Tea at their house generally ended with an enormous sherry trifle, and the taste of sherry trifle can still take me right back to those twilit days.

It could go either way over the next few days: we could carry on feeling relaxed and drowsy - and the snowy weather is certainly conducive to that - or we could start to feel irritable and confined. After we have eaten and drunk as much as we really want, and move on to eating and drinking because it's there, there is a risk that discontentment and boredom will set in, ungrateful wretches that we are. I think we might need a pre-emptive strike. Sadly, the traditional panacea of long walks are off the agenda until the council decide to grit. Daughter #3 could go to rowing tomorrow, which would mean rather an early start but would at least guarantee that we got motivated nice and early. Foraging for wood and chopping logs is very therapeutic, but everything near us is still covered in snow - plus we still have plenty of wood from the summer. So what to do......

A strange time, this dying of the year.

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