What a lovely little weekend that was.
It was the winter solstice here on Saturday. The shortest day of the year was a sunny one, filled from dusk until dawn with light and brightness.
DorkyDad and I went out to the Winter Feast on Saturday night – a loud and lively celebration of local food. It was the only DARK MOFO event we went to together. DorkyDad had been to listen to poetry and music at the Odeon Theatre last week, and DorkySon and I spent a merry afternoon with our mops at Yin Xiuzhen’s ice sculpture, but Saturday night was special.
It was a night of pork buns and beef cheek tacos, woodfired pizza and sparkling wine. There was pulsing music and joyful dancing, our breath visible in the cold night air. There were acrobats and accordions, a nip of whisky and a long walk home. We watched the last blue beams of Articulated Intersect light up the sky above Hobart.
On Sunday morning I woke up and my pillow smelled of the bonfires we had warmed our hands on.
It is hard to believe it is winter. I am sure it will get worse – there must be some dark, cold days coming soon – but so far it hasn’t dropped below zero. Last week was warm enough for a picnic lunch in the garden.
As we were sitting out on the rug, DorkySon looked thoughtful.
“Let’s watch and see if we spot any leaves fall off the tree,” he said.
So we sat, still and quiet for a few minutes. But then it became competitive.
“Let’s see who’s the first to spot a leaf falling,” he said.
We continued to sit. But still nothing. He became frustrated. He went up to the tree and shook the trunk hard, trying to force a leaf to fall.
Eventually he stood on tiptoes and pulled one off, before dropping it on the ground.
“Did you see it?” he asked me. “Did you see that leaf fall?”
“Yes,” I said. “I did.”
“Good,” he said. “Then you win. Well done.”
He and I have started spending Friday afternoons at the place he calls the parrot park, and we almost always have it to ourselves. How is that possible? The best play equipment in town, right by the beach and two ice cream stores, and yet week after week we are the only ones there. We spend an hour on the slides and swings, we are pirates and explorers, hiding and seeking, then we head out of the park and around the point so DorkySon can potter in the rockpools.
He likes to throw stones in the sea – small ones and big ones – and listen to the different sounds they make. He looks for anemones and crabs, shrieks if a wave splashes a little too close. We watch out for whales, and admire the diving cormorants. When he’s had enough we find a favourite bench to sit on, and I pull out Tupperware tubs of Hobnobs and sliced apple. We share a bottle of water, and make up stories until it is time to go home.
When the cold does come we are prepared for it. On Sunday morning the DorkyBoys spent two long hours stacking firewood in the shed. A full tonne of it, great rough logs of every shape and size. I have never seen my son work so hard – he wouldn’t even wear gloves – hurling big, heavy chunks from one wall to another. Time alone with his Dad seems to be getting more and more important.
DorkySon said this weekend that he likes school even more than he likes funfairs. He is starting to understand numbers and letters in an astonishing way. And he really feels a part of something – when we’re on our way in the mornings he likes to point out other people wearing the same school uniform as him. Even if he doesn’t know their name, he knows they belong to the same place. He’s in the middle of one of his growth spurts, so I hope that uniform makes it to the end of the year. I keep seeing bare inches of wrist and ankle poking out of his sleeves and cuffs, and as he tears around the house there’s always a flash of tummy here and some bum cheek there.
Last night he was exhausted after the wood stacking and two birthday parties that also took place over the weekend. We ended up having a conversation full of tears at bedtime. He wanted to know what would happen if DorkyDad or I die before he does. Couldn’t we all agree to go at the same time? He wanted to know if death hurts or if it’s scary. He wonders why even grown-ups are sad when people die. Can’t God work his magic and send people back from Heaven?
DorkySon needs certainty, and I hate when he asks questions that I can’t provide good enough answers to. It’s so hard to talk about difficult things in an abstract way. We have agreed to try and find a book to read together that will help us understand.
But now, with the solstice past and the days growing longer, we are moving towards spring and new life.
We are moving out of the dark and towards the light.
Now is not a time for sadness.