This is a guest blog from one of my favourite people, Adam Ramsay. When he’s not being an uncle, you can find him tweeting as @AdamRamsay and blogging at Bright Green and 101 Ways To Cook Mushrooms. Adam has previously posted on DorkyMum about being an uncle – he enjoyed it so much he’s back to do it a second time.
“I’m going for a walk in the dark and the snow,” I declared. It was my last night at home. The white which has in recent years appeared just in time for Christmas had instead turned up right as I was packing to head south for Edinburgh’s Hogmanay. “Who’s with me?”.
The library was snug – warmed by the log stove, ten bodies and just enough booze. In turn, each of the members of my family declined. But then a voice piped up: “I want to go for a walk in the snow.” My three-year-old nephew. Always intrepid. I got into warm clothes, found his snowsuit, hat and gloves, took his hand, and we walked out of the back door. “Will we fight monsters in the woods?” he asked me.
We scrunched across the gravel. “Into the woods or up the hill?” I asked.
We turned right – up the front drive. I pointed out the snow on a silhouetted beech tree.
“It’s beautiful,” he said.
And then, within a few metres of the house still, “Can you carry me?”
I hoisted him onto my shoulders and marched off in my wellies. We talked about the stars and the planets – his current interest (“Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto and the other dwarf planets.” Venus is hottest despite being second closest to the sun “because its poisonous gasses trap the heat“) – and about animals (though I always rapidly run out or territory there, as he knows many more than I do).
But he kept coming back to monsters.
“How big are the monsters?”
“Well, they’re imaginary monsters, so they can be as small as we like. But they are definitely smaller than me, so no need to worry about them.”
Further up the drive, it goes into the woods. I pointed out the snow on the darkened birch branches.
“Can I tell you how it’s beautiful for me?” he asked. And he did. “The white snow looks like it’s glowing because it’s so white, and it makes the branches look like they’re black and it makes them beautiful.”
“Yes, I think so too, that’s why I wanted to come out, because I thought it would be beautiful.”
“That’s why I wanted to come out too.”
Then, as the drive winds down past a small loch – an area inhabited by beavers and wild boar – we were back on monsters.
“Well, they aren’t real monsters, they’re imaginary monsters. I can assure you that they are much more frightened of me than we are of them, so they’ll not come anywhere near us.”
“Can we stay away from the woods – I don’t want to fight them.”
“Okay, we won’t go up into the woods.”
The final stretch is surrounded by smaller, naturally regenerating young birch. We returned for a third time to its astounding beauty, he quickly forgot monsters, loosened his grip, and remembered why we were on our walk. But at the end of the drive when I put him down to take off my hat, he clung tight to my legs.
“Now, we could head straight back, or we could walk round and go up the back drive.”
“I want to go straight back, I’m scared.”
I hoisted him back up, and off we strode.
Once we were back at the house, in the warm library, he declared “It was so beautiful but we didn’t go up into the woods to fight the monsters because I was too scared. Uncle Adam kept them away though.”
The following day I managed to throw him higher in the air than ever before. And then I was off. Back to Edinburgh, then back to Oxford for work. It’s his fourth birthday this week. How the years have flown by.