When I was a child, with all the time in the world and an empty road to play in with my friends, one of our favourite street games was “Peep Behind the Curtain” (aka Grandmother’s Footsteps; Red Light, Green Light). For those of you too young to have been allowed to play in the street, or too miserably antisocial to have played such pointless, gregarious games, here is a link which explains how it is played.
I am telling you this because, lately, I have been feeling as if Life has been playing this game with me. When my Grandmotherly footsteps took me off to Derby a couple of weeks ago to visit my Lovely Offspring, I turned my metaphorical back for just a few days, and when I turned back round again, all sorts of Life’s children had crept up on me.
The first and most obvious of these was Capucine’s baby. How typical that, after days and days of watching, and waiting and calculating likely dates of cria delivery, she should choose to drop her bundle on the very day that I was on my way to the airport. Just like when you go to make a cuppa during a boring game of football on the tv and, the instant you leave the room, a goal – the only goal of the match – is scored.
And then there’s all that Spring business. The suddenly lushening grass; the miraculously carpeting wild flowers; the forthly bursting lilac leaves; the pinkly blossoming fruit trees; the deafeningly dawn-chorusing birds… Suddenly Spring has changed from that gentle season that sweetly marks the end of Winter’s emptiness, to that other, exhuberant Spring. The Spring that fizzes with a heady sense of verdant possibility, and bubbles with the brewing promise of the fulsome Summer to come.
Already it is T-shirt weather and mowing time. Already the first swallows are checking out the cat-saturated barn for possible (if risky) nesting sites. Already the first bee-eaters are dribbling northwards, piercing the blue with their distinctive trills. Already the finches are leaving the sunflower seeds uneaten in the feeder, and the llamas are leaving the hay uneaten in the rack. Already the flies are basking on the sun-washed walls and menacing the still-closed windows with their humming blackness, and already I am remembering that Summer isn’t all lovely.
But, for now at least, this Life that has crept up on me while I was looking the other way is a very pleasant surprise, and when it finally taps me on the shoulder with the beautiful song of the first nightingale in the greenful trees, I will know that Winter has well and truly lost the game.