Yesterday, I spent twelve hours taking apart my old, rickety bookcases, dusting and cleaning the books, and putting them all on their shiny, new bookcases. This morning, walking into the sitting room was a bit like getting up the day after you’ve decorated the house for Christmas.
In the beginning, there were Japanese microseasons. The first post on this site was made when, depending on your translation and reference source, “dew glistens white on grass”. Now, “springs thaw” and soon, “pheasants start to call”.
The site had been a thought in development for several years by the time it first went live. We had chosen the name Elosa for our shared home before we moved in, way back in August 2017, being as it was a shared representation of our names at the time: a half-initialism, a half-acronym. Euan, Lydia and Osa. It’s what we call our current home, and it will be what we call our next home.
In the years that followed, our family changed shape. Osa became Ghost Osa, remaining an ever-present entity in our family. Scapa and Araucaria, or Auri for short, came along. By pure accident, as I realised later, their names moulded Elosa into a true acronym, based on all of our initials.
Now, we are Elosae. Elowen arrived on the 8th of December, thoughtfully letting me attend her sister’s Nativity two nights previously before kickstarting proceedings with my waters breaking at midnight. A day and some later, there she was: bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and bigger than her sister had been when she arrived (nearly four years ago, now) by more than a third again. Our little Elowen, or Elfi for short.
Auri adores Elfi, which is fortunate. So far, she has resented none of the changes made to accommodate her new sibling, and delights in showing her off to anyone and everyone, certain in that way that pre-schoolers are that everyone will be as interested and besotted as she is.
When the tree and the Christmas decorations were taken down last Friday, we moved my desk into the sitting room. Not simply an aesthetic choice, though I love my hand-crafted, bespoke desk: during my maternity leave, I will be spending the majority of my waking hours in this room with Elfi, so having my desk and all its accompanying paraphernalia to hand for any snatched spare moments (as this one is, right now) was a practical choice, too.
As I type, Elfi is asleep in her crib next to me. She is already filling the Moses Basket more than Auri did a few months in. It’s strange to see her in clothes than Auri wore when she was so much further along.
Now, as I type here, I can glance down at my sleeping baby. Wander across the sitting room – suddenly spacious after the good madness of Christmas – and finish off my cup of tea in a kitchen slightly smoky from the treacle-burnt ham fresh out of the oven.Notebook, 7th January 2023
When Auri was born, she was definitely a Bowditch. So many people commented on how much she looked like Euan or members of his family. On my side, she most closely looked like two of my sisters, Holly and Diff, though I see me in her when she smiles her mischievous smile, full of devilment. Straight out of the family photograph album.
Elfi, on the other hand, was born the spitting image of me when I was a baby, complete with dark hair, so she is definitely a Crow. Out of all my siblings, I am the one who has always taken most after my mother, and members of my family have said how much Elfi looks like my Granddad George (my mum’s dad), so she is also very much a Temperton.
Looking at photos of Auri in the same basket, though, Auri and Elfi share so much in how they look. It’s so strange, noticing all these differences and similarities as they each forge their own way, announcing and stamping their own individuality on the world and all who sail in her.
It seems strange that Elfi, a day short of five weeks, is already living through her eighth microseason. Bears have started hibernating. Deers have shed antlers. Parsley has flourished.
So much, so soon, life comes rushing at us.
At the beginning of this year, I stopped reading and browsing news. I have had breaks before and it improved, well, everything. This time, I hardly even feel guilty about not being engaged, not being aware or informed. Family and friends will let me know if there is anything I need to know. And, if they don’t, I’m sure it will work out. My energies – and their energies, too – are better spent elsewhere.
That – alongside re-evaluating my relationship with my somewhat needy mobile – has meant I’ve already been reading more. Currently, one of the books I am reading is Tove Jansson: Life, Art, Words, the authorised biography by Boel Westin. Reading about her family, you can see the blueprint for what Jansson might become was scribbled from the start, from the earliest of days – but nobody would suspect she would forge, announce and stamp herself on the world as she did.
It is such a responsibility, growing young women: so hard to get right the balance between encouraging, inspiring, providing opportunity and advocating a little too much for a certain path. Auri is so sharp, so observant, blowing out of the water with her analytic curiosity all those phrases we use which don’t really make sense, and making me look at everything afresh and reconsider all that has become engrained over the last four decades. Elfi is at that early and delightfully honest stage, all snuffles and contented murmuring, and then scrunched up faces and immediate vocalisations of discontent if she is not entirely happy. I am learning and re-learning so much from both of them. And, as long as that is the case, perhaps that is what will ensure I, too, grow with the seasons.
This post isn’t what I thought it would be. There were other Things To Say, perhaps announcements to make. If I’d had the chance to sit down and write it in one sitting, blindly type in a furious fit of literary passion, perhaps it would have stayed the way I originally envisaged it. But that would also mean that I would have lost something, that I wouldn’t have let time and reflection reshape what I thought had to be written and guide me in a different direction.
This feels important, this observation and diverted path bringing a sense of relief. It emphasises the strength in not-knowing and growing.
After all, as the beloved Too-ticky once said, “All things are so very uncertain, and that’s exactly what makes me feel reassured.”
Merry, Merry New Year, one and all. May 2023 treat you and yours kindly.
Scapa has just returned from her walk and, noticing I had a blanket ready to put over my knees on the settee once I’d settled down with my cup of tea, pointedly stood there staring at it and me until I ended up opening it out and lifting it up so she could curl up under the blanket herself. No room for me.
There was a thick frost on the ground this morning, and it still hasn’t entirely shifted as we step into the afternoon. We are due snow this week – Wednesday, apparently – which is all very exciting. Auri, who at nearly four entirely equates snow with Christmas-time for obvious reasons, can’t wait and keeps describing the snowball fights we’re going to have. There are a series of seasonal milestones that are all wonderfully jumbled up in her head right now: Pip being born; Tonton Neeps, Tatie Aurélie and Baby Cousin Ailsa arriving; Christmas; snow. There are probably more. I was trying to explain the concept of ‘Christmas-time’ as opposed to ‘Christmas Day’ to her this morning, when she asked why we already had our tree up if it wasn’t Christmas yet.
We bought our tree and decorated it on Friday. Auri chose it, and a grand job she did, too. Fortunately, Scapa has never been too interested in Christmas Trees other than sniffing them and paying attention to certain ornaments; unfortunately, she has no idea what her tail does at any given time, so there have been a handful of ornaments brought down already due to pre-walk excitement.
So, Croymas has certainly started! And it is a particularly special one this year. Crowmas will officially begin on the 23rd December, when we drive up to Stempster for a few nights. All in all, we have an exciting month ahead of us.
Today is Christmas Decorating Day – a little earlier than usual this year for imminent going-into-labour reasons.
Yesterday, I spent half a day Furniture Juggling. That annual task, where you try to figure out what needs moving where to fit in the Christmas Tree for the next few weeks. It’s even harder this year, given Auri’s room is being commandeered as a guest room for the festive season, and we have an extra member of the family (and all that means, trappings-wise) joining us.
Nevertheless, I successfully managed it, with only a handful of wooden bird carvings and Euan’s massive wooden pestle and mortar he brought back from Central America (Costa Rica, perhaps? Or was it Guatemala?) going in the loft for a while.
Of course, the real challenge is finding places for the books I’ve usurped from their usual place on one of the side-tables. I think I’ve managed to surreptitiously squirrel them away in appropriate places, hoping to avoid more amused comments from Euan about precisely how many books I accumulate…