At 4 pm the sun was setting. Dark at 4:30. It had been raining all day, cold, gray drizzle, and I’d not been able to muster the energy to get us out of the house. The children were anxious from being inside and from the uncertainty of the time change.
I sat in the dining room with Sophie on my lap as she ate her orange oatmeal bread. Exasperated by her squabbling with Ben over the chair, I’d finally given up on reading whatever I’d been trying to finish. I realized she’d be much more civil with a dry diaper and a snack in her belly and so ignoring her protests had taken care of the first and was seeing to the second.
As I surveyed the messy table covered with the inevitable crumbs that three children make out of any crumby quickbread, sticky syrup from breakfast pancakes, bits of chewed apple (thanks, Ben) and smears of dried juice, as I glanced at the crumb strewed floor and the kitchen sink full of dirty dishes, as I looked out the window at the gathering gloom, I started to cry.
I find this time of year so depressing. In the house all day while the cold rain falls. What little light there is fails so early. Dark before dinner. How am I going to get through 4 more months of this?
Especially as I anticipated that my belly will grow larger and more unwieldy, my sciatica will flare up more and more, my energy will wane as I prepare for the arrival of yet one more voice to clamor for my attention. I tried not to let Sophie see the tears that welled as I impatiently waited for her to finish so I could go take care of my baby-squished bladder. Finally she finished and ran off to play and I hurried to the solitude of the bathroom where I could let the tears flow freely while chaos gathered in my absence.
Finally I regrouped and went to attack the mess. I tidied all the dishes into the dishwasher. I wiped off the table and swept the floor. At least bring the kitchen back to something of a blank slate before I thought about the looming question of dinner. Last night I resorted to leftover moussaka for Dom and myself and sandwiches for the kids. Now I can think of nothing at all. Soup maybe? But what kind? I had no creative juices left.
Just as I was browsing the computer, hoping for a recipe to call my name, Dom came home. After he’d told me about his day and I’d listened to it all, he saw me looking through the recipes. I sank to the kitchen stool and said weakly, “Soup? We have chicken and potatoes and I don’t know what else.” But he came through with what I should have thought of in the first place: Curry! Our standby.
With two of us working the veggies were quickly chopped and the curry was soon bubbling on the stove. Ben didn’t get to bed till late but he didn’t quite have a meltdown, so all was good.
Amazing how a little order and a bowl of hot food improves one’s mood.
Today we braved the cold and damp and went to Target. I bought the girls new bathrobes and Bella new slippers to help smooth over the grumpiness of early morning chill. I tried to talk Bella out of the ugliest polka-dotted bathrobe; but she insisted that she loved it. I put my foot down when Sophie wanted one of the same. She got purple “so that she wouldn’t get hers mixed up with Bella’s.” A quick trip to the grocery store and we got more fruit: apples, oranges, bananas, grapefruits, pomegranates. Not a wild variety; but a solid satisfaction in the cart nonetheless.
When we got home Sophie demanded we cut into the pomegranate right away. Soon little faces and hands were smeared with red. Even Ben, who does not approve of pomegranate, had somehow acquired a spatter of red drops across his forehead. I thought of Persephone longing for spring and flowers in the dreary halls of the dead and wondered how she could have limited herself to only six of the glowing gems of pomegranate pips. I scooped up handful after handful of them and relished the crunch of solid sunlight turning liquid between my teeth.
This is how we will survive our exile: one pomegranate at a time. One batch of cookies, one cuddle on the couch, one mug of hot cocoa after another. Soon it will be Advent and candles will lighten the gloom and the anticipation. Now we endure the gray and the bare bones of the year, waiting for the enchantment of snow, the magic of Christmas.
And then in February, in the longest, coldest month we will welcome new life, new hope. (Hopefully by then he will have a name.)
* Bonus points to anyone who can identify the work referenced in the title.