The Thaw

March 10, 2010


One huge advantage of this,’ The Longest Winter in The World Apart From Maybe The Winter in The Arctic Which, Let’s Be Honest, Is Not That Far North From Saskatchwan’, is that it has given us all plenty of time and room and space for self reflection. I, for example, now know that I don’t ever want a kitten to try and have sex with me again. My Dad knows that he shouldn’t really eat Chinese food. The Baby knows that she can say ‘No’ and completely get away with it. And The Mushroom has made two major discoveries.

“Sweetheart?” she says to The Baby, “Can you take this cloth and wipe up the milk you spilt? There’s a good girl.”

The Baby looks at her calmly. She collects her thoughts.

“No.” she replies, and trots off to play with her plastic sheep.

“Darl?” she calls to my Dad. “Did you hear that?”

“Yep.”

“Any ideas what to do?”

My Dad thinks for a moment. “Nope.”

And this is it. The Baby can say no. She can, now that she can speak, very calmly say that she doesn’t want to do stuff. This, my friends, is going to be fun to watch.

Discovery Number 2:

“Jesus Mary and Joseph!” screams The Mushroom from the bathroom. Her temporary transformation into a little old lady from Cork is always indicative of shock. The door opens and she jogs to my Dad, pointing all the while to her nose.

“My nose has grown bigger!” she exclaims.

My Dad mutes the TV and stares at her.

“My nose!” she repeats. “I was looking at my nose, and I remember reading somewhere once that noses, like ears, keep growing and that’s why old men have ears down to their shoulders and I have a big nose! I used to have a small nose! Since when have I had a big nose?”

My Dad sits up straight and prepares himself.

“Have you noticed my nose is big?” she asks him.

My Dad visibly braces himself. “Yes.”

“How long has it been big for?”

“Since you were nineteen, love.”

The Mushroom’s mouth drops open. This is like the time she realised, after her first full-length mirror purchase, that she was, in fact, markedly bow-legged.

Her voice has dropped to a whisper. “I’ve always had a big nose and I never knew?”

“You have a noble nose, my love. An equine nose. It’s lovely.”

“You’ve just told me I look like a posh horse. You think I look like a frigging horse.”

“No, that’s not what I said. And it could have been worse. I could have said you looked like a toucan.”

She pauses. “Do I really have a big nose?”

“Yes, love, a bit.”

“Fair enough.”

So, a long winter in a basement is not all bad, is it?  Whilst I’m sure others in the same situation would have made perhaps more fundamental realisations about themselves or maybe taken up charcoal drawing or something, The Mushroom is, essentially, fairly shallow, as this conversation indicates:

“You’re not happy here, are you, pet?” asked my Dad. The Mushroom looked up from her tower-building activity with one raised eyebrow. It is perhaps key to point out here that the tower-building is in miniature, with wooden blocks, and with The Baby. The Mushroom hasn’t morphed into an engineer or anything.

“What can I do to make you happy?” he then asked. Who knows what he was expecting as an answer? Something deep, though, I’m guessing. Something worthy of James Joyce on a day when he was writing in proper sentences, perhaps.  What he got was this:

“A nice necklace.”

My Dad looked incredulous. “Surely that would only make you happy for a minute or two?”

She sat up straighter. “Have you met me, love? A necklace would make me happy for at least a week. And then I’d want shoes.”

“But sweetheart,” he asked, “Why would you want shoes? You can’t wear shoes here. You can only wear your Jedi boots here. And maybe skis.”

The Mushroom shook her head with a look of amused disbelief. “I would want the shoes to look at the shoes, darling, and then walk about the house in them.”

My Dad settled himself back on the sofa, with the look of a man who has just got off lightly. “Okey dokey then, light of my darkness.”

It is, however, only possible to see the advantages of this immensely long Winter because this has happened:

“Oh my Goodness the snow is melting the SNOW is MELTING!” came the scream the other morning when The Mushroom did her daily ‘Stand on the Sofa and Look Out The Window’ ritual after breakfast.  “Come on, coats on coats on coats ON!!”

“It’s seven o’clock in the morning, poppet.”

“I don’t give a flying feckity, sweetpea, we’re off outside!”

And, indeed, we were; The Mushroom with her scary bed-hair, my Dad in his pyjama bottoms and boots, The Baby in bright pink wellington boots and three pairs of leggings, Fluffy Usurper who then disappeared over a fence, presumably in a bid to find something to have sex with, and me;  old, slightly portly me, standing in the melting snow, in a garden, in a field, in Saskatchewan. We all breathed deeply and took in our surroundings.  The Baby tottled off to examine some stones;  The Mushroom followed, making whooping sounds and skipping slightly and my Dad gazed up at the sky,  looking relieved that perhaps, now, the trip to the car would no longer involve wearing that ridiculous hat.

I had a look about me, and went back inside.

The snow may be melting, but it’s still frigging cold.

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2 Responses to “The Thaw”

  1. Mrs Emo said

    My favourite bit was “flying feckity”. I will spend the remainder of today trying to lever that into a conversation. Probably not one with my mother though.

    Why don’t men understand shoes? And lovely shopping? Why?

  2. hayley said

    I wonder if I have been a victim of that pesky nose growth phenomena? I think of myself as a small nosed being yet Ant insists it is big. He’s one to talk, but that’s another matter. Who do you think is correct, Zeebs? Me? Yeah, I thought so.

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