Tuesday, 7 January 2014

What a good year for the roses

Is it too late for looking back on 2013? Probably for most. But not for me. The year lingered on as Christmas lingered and there was no rush to hang up the boots of 2013. Today, however, was the day that we hung down the Christmas lights, packed the tree away and took the last of the cards off the shelves and windows - the last of the 'welcome Alannah' baby cards too. The end of an era. And so today we finally put 2013 to rest. 

All in all, an exciting year. Anticipation and expectation mounted through the cold and painful months of January, February and March and finally Easter came and brought some warmth and sunshine to the Holly Cottage. In May we went tripping around the north east of Spain - Catalonian dreaming - sweet. All that seafood and Costa Brava sunshine, reminding me of what summers used to be like in Ireland before the country seemed to become permanently shrouded in grey and mist. 

Things were well on their way then in terms of baby growth but it was really only in June that people started to suspect that I was either going too heavy on the scones at tea time or that I actually really was expecting the pitter patter of tiny feet. I did have my own share of scones too mind ;) But I left them guessing for as long as I could - it was easily in the sixth month before people got brave enough to ask, and me assured enough to concur with their suspicions. It was easier to enjoy the sickness and the excitement in private for a while, but great to share when the right time came. And so uplifting to have the encouragement and support lavished on me from all quarters. Thanks to all. 

A rose for all seasons
The summer was beautiful - glorious. So rewarding to us poor Irish natives who had borne the weight of all that damp and heaviness since June 2008. We had a couple of weeks of BBQ bliss and long languorous evenings watching the sun as it barely left our view and dipped behind the majestic beech trees in the north west before returning to us in the east only a couple of hours later. Spectacular red sunsets and warm golden sunrises. A greater gift couldn't be asked for or dreamt of. There was a run on ice creams in the country. More of it I say ;) Seriously though - it felt just like the summers of childhood did, those days spent strolling around bee and butterfly busy fields and time at the beach when you never even dreamt of a phrase such as 'that feckin' water is freezing!'. Bliss indeed. 

And then September came. And ye know all about what happened next ;) What a beautiful autumn - warm and sunny most days with the occasional torrential downpour that led to the us calling the woods the 'rainforest' at times. All that walking and fresh air combined with bringing up baby. Flash forward four months to the day yesterday and she is shouting us orders and (still) dictating the pace in the Holly Cottage. I am glad she came just as the summer was fading as I'm not sure I would have accepted the restricted movement so easily when there was work to be done outside, drills to be weeded and seeds to be sown. No, I am certain that she arrived at just the right time - time enough to admire the view of the garden from the sunlit kitchen as we got to know each other, and time enough to reap the harvest of the summer sown at leisure, and time enough to walk in the lovely autumn air around the path that circles the bountiful vegetable patch. 

The darkest days have come and gone now and we have been lucky to share some warm and toasty days by the fire with friends and family, feasting on the fruits of 2013 and relishing in the memories brought to life by tastes and fragrances packed into jars and bottles especially for the festive season. Jams, relishes and chutneys are the most welcome at these times, along with the stores of tomatoes that make perfect heart warming winter soups. All in all it was the simple pleasures that made the winter and its Christmas for me - enjoying the delicious aroma and taste of good coffee and chocolate again (after nine months of nauseating at their prospect), sharing in the wonder of Alannah with my beloved, the miles walked in the woods, the storms enjoyed and passed, the antics of the bold Holly, the visitors from the UK and Germany, the trips to Mornington, Cappaduff and Cork and the visitors from Galway. 

Last of the summer roses
For sure, 2013 was one to remember. But let's park it there. For the new year has just begun and the dust of last year is now brushed away along with the wrapping and packaging that came with Christmas cheer. Time to move on, and time to look forward. Who knows what will happen in terms of seasons, travel, love and laughter, garden, walking, writing, music, friendships, family and the indomitable Holly. I look forward to sharing the stories as we walk and as they unfold. And just as last years sunshine brought pale pinks and blushing reds to the walls of the Holly Cottage let us have three cheers for a very fantastic and preciously good year for the roses. Thanks to Elvis Costello for the song in my head - Happy 2014! 

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