Slowly

In the last week we’ve bought a tumble dryer and ordered a dishwasher. Moving up in the world. And some hooks to hang towels on. And lights for the stairs. And summer tyres for the car. I made waffles for breakfast on Sunday. I’ve been making progress on Henry. We’ve stumbled on, alongside our interrupted and interrupting grief. I am so unbelievably glad it is Easter break now. Easter starts on Thursday in Norway, but at the kindergarten we have Wednesday off too. I plan to mark essays all day. It will be brilliant.

The snow has all but gone. The land looks strangely naked without it. Brown and rubbed thin. As though the whole world could just collapse from exhaustion. But it won’t. It will just catch its breath a while longer, while the birdsong already haunts morning with dreams of colour. And before we know it, it will be May, beautiful May, though that still feels as distant as a foreign country.

Update: for old Henry posts, seeĀ here andĀ here and here.

This life

I’m far to tired to write a proper post and need to be sleeping, but wanted to drop by. The snow is slowly melting – most of the roads are clear now. Teaching is going well. I’m even thinking tentatively about research. I’ll get a stack of essays at the end of this week. The kindergarten is exhausting, but today it included a complimentary massage and chocolate cake, so I can’t complain. And this afternoon I instigated a disco with the two year olds which involved jumping and arm-waving and twirling about in circles and collapsing on the carpet in spasms of giggles.

For my Dad

I’m thinking of my Dad today because he’s had the most horrible week. Last week his twin sister died after a slow and terrible illness, and then on the weekend an errant house guest stole his camera and his lenses and his penknife, his most prized possessions. Which is just not fair.

Actually, it’s been a pretty shattering year so far.

I have often grimaced uncomfortably when he whips out his giant camera at family gatherings, but I’ve always loved seeing the portraits he’s taken afterwards. That’s mostly what he photographs, people’s faces. And then prints them out to show us all.

I am glad I visited my aunt Irene with my Nanna and Michael last time I was home. It was Nanna’s idea. I am so grateful. We talked about Christmas, and her children and her grandchildren. We looked at photos.

My aunt did not have an easy life. But my Mum said what seems most clear at the moment, as the family comes together, that underlying everything, and despite everything, is love. She loved her family and her family loved her.

Love is difficult. But sometimes, suddenly, effortless.

And my Dad is brilliant. It was so nice hanging out with him last time I was in Australia. He took such good care of me. He cooked us dinner, took us out for dinner, brought pasties home for me during his lunch break, kept the pantry liberally stocked with chocolate, cried over my poems. And took some great photographs. Especially one night when we went out for pizza on King William Road, Mum and Dad, my brother and Michael and I. We sat out on the pavement in the evening warmth. It was a good night.

So I’m thinking of you today, Dad. I can’t wait to see you in July. And I hope you get a new camera soon. I love the way you wonder at the world, and at people, and the worlds within them.

Things we like about our house

Sunlight and firelight and windows on all sides.

A working shower, toilet and washing machine (ok we’re taking these for granted already, but they were a welcome revelation when we moved in after camping in our old place for weeks).

A mirror in the bathroom that’s as tall as we are.

An upstairs and a downstairs.

Quietness.

A kitchen that isn’t also a hallway.

The morning air when we step outside, that smells of ice and sun and woodsmoke.

A room for everything.

And did I mention windows?

And a mouse in the snow

Many things happened yesterday. My aunt died, my cousin’s daughter was born, and another cousin got engaged (all on my Dad’s side). I read some of this news on facebook, and some in an email. I feel a very long way away.

But also not. I feel very connected to my family, and to life and to death.

Yesterday, driving to work, I saw a row of frosted birch trees standing in an field of snow. The sun (a welcome stranger in these parts) shone fiercely, directly behind them, illuminating the layers and ribbons of mist caught in their hair.

And tonight, from my new window over the roof tops, I watched the moment evening became night. It was a long moment. The sun does not set here as it sets in Australia – blink and you’ll miss it. It lingers. But I’m not talking about sunset, I’m talking about a long time after. And also I don’t mean ‘fades’. You know, ‘day fades into night’. Because here it doesn’t, not on clear days. Slowly, slowly, long after the sun has set, the blue gets deeper and deeper, sifting its way through a thousand shades, until suddenly the whole sky is a deep iridescent purple. Glowing, I say. And in the middle of it, the first star.