Tuesday, December 27, 2011

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City doors closed behind them, wrapped up warm, a family of four. Through mist and through fog they drive, passing trees of winter that cling like sentinels to the edges of fields that bear both the scars of the harvest and the wounds of the December snow. Some of us sleep, others, not wanting to miss anything, watch quietly as things beyond their windows. Sunlight emerges through the bare forest just moments before we arrive, bright light fracturing through a web of bare branches, a thousand shards of clear winter sky.  
Drowsy girls are gathered into arms, the yeasty scent of sleep deeply inhaled, warm bodies are briefly squeezed tight as almost imperceptible whispers of 'I love you baby' are whispered into the secret darkness between woollen hood and small ear. Into the warmth where Christmas is for sale, the familiar pungent scent of cinnamon and cut trees sparking the light of festive feeling.
Food is shared between the family of four who are crowded around a table for two so that they can sit by the window where the bright, crisp light floods in and they can see the piglets snuffling and squelching in the cold, rich mud.  
Outside, wrapped in reluctant hats, buttoned tight, they talk to the piglets. 'What do piglets say baby? Oink oink? Oink oink.' And the goats and the sheep and the chickens too. One of the four wrestles and squirms and yells to get away, her small stockinged feet desperate to stand for themselves in the mud and the grass and the cold frost of winter.   
The sun, low in the sky casting long shadows that sing a song both melancholy and celebratory, they get back in the car. Heading in the direction of home they stop to buy eggs. There is a notebook and small metal box. On one they write what they are taking '18 eggs' and in the other they leave what they owe, an insubstantial sum for eggs still warm, still nestling soft white feathers against their speckled shells. Not for the first time they stand and stare at the freezers of meat, the bags of potatoes, the sign that announces 'we operate an honesty box system' and marvel that trust, that faith still exist. 
Bathed in the golden light that makes no promises to return any time soon, they walk. Up a winding track, past orchards of small fruit trees impossibly fragile in the cold, biting air. The shaded side of the path is encrusted in frost, a million tiny rough-hewn diamonds clinging to each blade of grass, each peak of mud, each fallen stick. Puddles crack and shatter under the wheels of the pushchair and in the last minutes before the sun sets two small but full laughs saturate and warm the still, frozen air.  
Back in the car they doze, trusting entirely that he will take them home safely. Trust exists, faith exists and even in the depths of winter the sun will make its appearance.