Tales from the hearth and heart
With my children having started their first school year, everything has shifted once again. I have a whole new set of rhythms and routines to adjust to, as do my girls.
These past four years have been joyous in the sense that we have largely lived within our own times and ways. Now, we are part of something beyond our own home and family life – we have school gates, and reading books, dates in the calendar and all of these taking place against the background of a pandemic.
Now more than ever then, it seems important to have a weekend that allows for rest and play in equal measure; a chance to wake up without an alarm – a time to cuddle on the sofa while watching a film, time in which to process the week gone by. I have a fear that it will all move so very fast otherwise.
We usually go to my Mums on a Sunday for a lovely roast and a walk with the dogs afterwards. It’s the time of the day just before getting ready for the Sunday late afternoon, it is a time that knows it has to get ready for Monday – when the morning zing of a cheerfully persistent alarm clock always, always takes you by surprise.
For that reason, that slow Sunday tea time- feeling reason I had a thought to post a small story at this time every week. Something that I had heard, or seen, something that had a gentleness to it – the equivalent of sitting beside a warm hearth with the curtains drawn. a cup of tea and a slice of yesterday’s cake by your side.
For me it’s a way to remember the passing moments that cross your path, like Autumn leaves swirling in a silent breeze – leaving the spirit of quiet magic in their wake.
I hope you enjoy them. And if you ever want to tell me a story I can share here – please do. I would love to hear them and share them as part of Sunday Tea Tales.
Since my children started school this September, our weekday mornings have taken on a rather sweet, if occasionally hurried, rhythm.
After breakfast, coffee, getting dressed and making sure school bags are well stocked with water bottles and hand sanitizers ( the check list of a pandemic lifestyle), we set out for school.
I love this morning walk. It gives me chance to wake up properly, to wake up and become part of the day. At this time of year there is a misty haze that canopies and lingers over the buildings, houses and the hills surrounding our small town; a kind of sleepy yawn that says the world is waking up, though not quite yet.
We often pass other Mums and their children walking to school. Some accompanied by their dogs, some in that purposeful, striding walk suggesting that this particular morning hasn’t gone as smoothly as others, and in those moments smiles are exchanged …. what is your turn today could be mine tomorrow, we all think to ourselves. We all know days like those.
We pass people coming out of their homes, ready for work or a visit to the shop to buy a newspaper and a pint of milk. There are vans, bicycles, motorbikes and cars. It is a time when people are moving into their days meaning. We wave at someone climbing up a precarious looking piece of scaffolding, it is the same person who did the building work on our house when my children were babies. He shouts ‘good luck’ to my daughters’ on their way to school. It touches me that he took the time to remember. It tells me that we are part of something here.. We belong. We are home.
We walk onwards, crossing the old bridge across the river. It is my favourite part of the school walk. I look over and for a few restful moments watch the water below. It is an act of mindfulness, momentarily sweeping me along the rivers flow. …..the porridge was lumpy, we didn’t do the reading practice last night, I am feeling really tired…. I breathe out, let go a little. Sending some of the niggles and tugs of life on their way.
After taking the girls to the school playground, I turn around and walk home. Sometimes I take my dog, Barley for a walk straight away. On this day I visit my friend, my children’s honorary Grandpa.
On my way to his house I pass through the busy square. It is where the pub and local shop is, where the little local museum with its gorgeous collection of Victorian farming smocks is housed in the former old town hall. It is where the town gathers at the beginning of December to drink mulled wine and sing Christmas carols. Both the museum and the gathering on hold during these uncertain times.
As I walk through the square I see a car having trouble reversing from out of his car park space. He is going forwards and backwards without actually getting anywhere and I am able to see the driver is quite elderly. His passenger is equally as elderly. There is something a little vulnerable about both of them.
Finally the driver moves out of his space and at that moment reverses towards, and subsequently prongs, the side of a car on the other side of the road. It is accidental. The driver immediately stops and gets out of his car. He looks tired and worried. His passenger gets out of the car too and they walk towards the car they have just hit. I notice she lays her hand on his arm with a tender sigh.
The landlord of the pub who was sweeping up outside his pub comes over. He knows the owner of the damaged car and the couple walk over to the owners house and tentatively knock on his door. By this point we are all gathered together. The drivers wife tells me she is having a horrible morning, and earlier she had fallen over coming out of the shop.
The owner comes out of the house and speaks to the elderly couple. He looks at his car, shakes the drivers hand and says, in a voice so sincere it lights up the morning like a sun ray, please don’t worry about it, we aren’t car people, as long I can still open the car door that’s all right by me….
It is a lovely gesture towards a couple whose morning has been hard. It’s a lovely gesture as an act of compassion, recognizing that people are always more important than things. It’s a gesture that makes a community, a gesture that makes a persons day and inspires them to do the same sometime in the future to someone else. It’s just remembering, from time to time, that letting go means opening out.
Not bad for a Wednesday morning walk to school.