This morning Nick and Fin packed up the car with Lego, wellies, ground nuts and spare socks for some boy time with Granny Jane in Devon. I watched them go, still in my pyjamas, morning tea cooling on the table, a yawning stretch of me-time beckoning with strange fingers. The house hummed with beloved machines washing plates and clothes, my head hummed with possibility.
Yesterday's visit to the chiropractor provided me with an amusing belt to wear around my hips for a month. A sturdy confection of neoprene and industrial Velcro that makes an acute ripping sound whenever I remove it to answer the call of nature. It rides up when I bend over and must be forced back down, taking tights and pants on the way. All these years since giving birth to an almost ten pound Finley, my pelvis and sacrum have been drifting out, like icebergs in the warming current. They bumped and jostled as the thaw of my weak ligaments allowed more and more play until my poor neck, balanced at the other end of this stack of cards, began to protest.
All the things I love to do were increasing the drift, cycling, running, rowing, sitting with patients and writing at a computer. Matts, my Swedish Chiropractor told me in his cosy way, that I could not do any of these things until my pelvis started to make friends with my sacrum again. He handed me the belt with a wry shrug and showed how to tighten it just so, informing me that, 'it is not fashion, no?'. No Matts, it is not fashion. I am confronted with my own vanity and have come up wanting.
I strapped the belt over orange tights, pulled on a fuchsia pink skirt with just enough room for the contraption not to show and hit the town, feeling trussed and comforted in equal measure, wondering if this is how men feel when wearing their wife's underwear illicitly - strange and pleased, secretly enjoying newness, wondering if anyone can tell? Of course the belt was soon forgotten as I browsed the market with a friend in strong march sun, enjoying the warmth that permeated my black winter coat. Spring and hope were written on everyone's face. I tasted the air for flavours, warm earth, new leaves, sticky buds, buttery cinnamon bread from a child clutching a hot-cross-bun, who could not wait for Easter. I took huge gulps of the stuff and scanned the stalls for bargains.
I found this cup and saucer at the very last stall, amidst a profusion of odds and ends. It's by one of my very favourite 1960s Broadhurst designers, Kathie Winkle - whose work I didn't even realise I had been collecting until I compared the details on my stash of un-matching saucers and saw her name written in jaunty script alongside the designs, 'Calypso', 'Rushstone', 'Concord' and 'Safari'. Anyone who has loved AMC's Mad Men may also feel a flush of joy for this unknown and yet tantalisingly innocent time when 'calypso' seemed exotic and not corny and 'Concord' the promise of a new and seemingly boundless horizon. I have a couple of plates bearing the name 'Pomella', picked up at some boot-sale years ago - I wonder if they too are by Kathie Winkle, so tuned is my eye to her lovely playful graphic? If anyone can tell me yes or no, I would be delighted.
I spent the afternoon cradling endless cups of lemon tea, deep in that easy conversation that one can only have when there is no child to tend, no husband to feed. As the sun ducked under the covers and a pink blush suffused the sky, I wandered home, coat up around my ears, time elsewhere and definitely not my concern.
Awaiting me was a modest piece of rib eye steak and a plateful of dark, spicy, winter leaves. I threw a knob of goose fat into a hot skillet and cooked it just long enough to caramelise the outside and warm the centre, salt and peppering each side only after a savoury crust had seared. Balmy quiet drifted about the house and came to rest around my shoulders like an angora shawl.
Tomorrow I will long for Finley's questions and Nick's long eyelashes. Tonight I am an island and it feels like paradise.