Hello. Thank you for calling in. I didn't mean to be away for so long, but we are well, as I hope you are. Since I was last here Shropshire has been battered by storms, subsumed by floods and, of course, invaded by a global pandemic. It has all felt very strange...and I know that our experience is not a unique one. So well done everybody on keeping up our chins and holding ourselves and our families together.
I feel I have so much to tell that I don't really know where to start, and I think that is what has kept me away. It was winter when I was last here, although we didn't have a real winter and in February I wrote that we seemed to be going directly from autumn to spring, and now it is summertime, where the living is supposed to be easy, the fish jumping and the cotton high. It isn't, not here. However, the summer solstice, the beginning of a new season and the promise that brings, seems to be a good place to start. You might remember that I'm an astronomical kind of gal.
On 21st June 2019 I sat on my front doorstep and watched the sunrise over the rooftops. I was asked recently whether I prefer sunrise or sunset and when I considered the question I realised that I prefer sunrise, which surprised me because I had always thought that I liked sunset better. I think that was probably due to unrealistic romantic notions of watching the sun sink over a beautiful landscape while wrapped in the arms of a handsome chap and drinking something which made me feel warm and fuzzy, and the excitement and expectation of what might happen once it was dark!. Now that I am older I have realised that the sunrise brings the hope and possibility of opportunities in a new day and I find that quite thrilling (although I am a bit sad to have grown out of my romantic notions). Any sunrise is a beautiful one as far as I am concerned but as I watched the sky lighten on the longest day of the year I thought that I might like to watch it in a rural landscape in 2020 and a plan began to form. I really wanted the Best Beloved to watch it with me and we scouted out a few likely locations before I settled on a hill about half an hour's drive away and when I suggested that we bring a camping stove so that we could brew up some tea and cook some sausages, the Best Beloved was persuaded. Frankly, he could be persuaded to do almost anything in return for sausages.
At the end of last year The Teacher and her little family moved into a house on the side of that very same hill and she said that I could watch the solstice sunrise from her garden and although she was laughing, because she thinks I am daft wanting to get up before 5am to watch the sky, I knew that she meant it. She said that I could stay over the night before and make tea in her kitchen before carrying it outside to sit in the garden (she knows that I am barely human in the morning before I have drunk a cup of tea). Of course, bloomin' coronavirus scuppered that plan because we are not allowed in other people's houses so before I went to bed in my own house on 19th June I set my alarm for 3.20am and the Best Beloved and I were on the road before 4am with the camping stove, a frying pan and the sausages. We parked outside The Teacher's house and crept along the path which led to the back of the house as quietly as we could, which actually wasn't that quietly because even Twinkletoes couldn't dance quietly on crunchy gravel. We went to the end of the garden, opened the gate which led us out into the field beyond and set up our chairs and tripod. We stayed there for about forty-five minutes, spellbound as the sun rose and golden rays swept across the barley field. It was utterly beautiful. A skylark sang.
In The Teacher's garden shed we found a tray with two mugs, a box of teabags and an electric kettle. She had also left out an extension lead so that we could use the outside socket so while the kettle boiled, the Best Beloved lit the camping stove and cooked our sausages and I can happily confirm that tea and sausage sandwiches eaten in the garden at 6am on the longest day of the year makes for a very fine breakfast indeed. The Teacher, Tom Kitten and Cottontail joined us when they woke up and we had a lovely (and suitably socially-distanced) morning together - and of course we had brought extra sausages to cook for Tom Kitten because they are his favourite.
It was a memorable celebration of the summer solstice. I wore a crown of flowers and so did Cottontail. The earth has turned and summer is here. I am glad to be back with you.
See you soon.
Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x