I’ve been reading Astrid Lindgren’s war diaries on the tube this week. She talks about the importance of small and trivial joys, of new shoes and roast potatoes at Christmas, of the first day of spring and sunlight filtered through newborn green leaves. While we are not at war, these are strange times, troubling times, and I am going to take a leaf out of Astrid’s (wonderful) book and keep listing the domestic, everyday joys that make life good. Tomorrow, or the next day, there will be words about the protest I attended tonight, about what we might do to keep ourselves cheered, and empowered, but tonight, there is this.
A Saturday at home with my sister and our senile cat, lazy and lovely. A Sunday at the stove – peeled, sliced apples simmering in a bath of brown sugar and cloves; mushroom and lentil gratin crisping up under the grill; aubergine and squash stew bubbling in the slow cooker (lunches ready for a busy week ahead); banana chocolate loaf proving in the warm oven. Condensation running down these rattly windowpanes, as I wonder about this old house and its stories, its secrets.
Mist clinging in the air as I, coddled in wool coat, stomp through empty streets and then through the sheaves of lingering leaves in the park. On frosty days, I relish the shortcut straight across the field, my buttery leather boots protected from the mud by the layer of ice splintered across the grass. I wonder if we especially harbour fondness for the season we were born in and if somewhere, deep down, seasonal sediment lines our bones. I was born in the midst of a bitter winter and even now I love the blue ice and the cold.
Brunch at home, just the two of us, as we dance around one another preparing the food and brewing the coffee, teasing and bickering, talking in that lazy, languid way of two who have just swum up from sleep. Sweet Sundays together, the slow-cooker bubbling, four coffees before lunch, the newspapers spread like blankets across the floor, banana bread in the oven.
This souvenir from a dear, newly-faraway friend. What a sparkling year of adventure we shared: London and Venice, Edinburgh and Oxford. What a marvellous memento to remember it by. Thank you, Ashley.
Walking home in the dark, the tungsten glow of lightbulbs illuminates the windows of houses lining these old residential streets. It’s a perfect opportunity for nosing and there’s something comforting in the cinemagraph scenes of families gathered around the dinner table, couples preparing supper, the teenager who sits on her windowsill with her nose in a novel, the young man smoking a cigarette from an upper floor window, smoke billowing through the air just the way the mist does in the mornings. These vignettes remind me of the city’s layers – the stories played out in the streets and the many thousands who have walked these paths. They are stories I will likely never know, but the thought of them makes me smile.