Wednesday, 12 September 2012

New Beginnings

Summer may be drawing to a close, but for me this time of year has always marked new beginnings. Maybe because it’s the start of the academic year, or it could be the sense of satisfaction as the harvest is brought in and the fields are prepared for their next crop. This sense of well-being and optimism is at its peak in the late summer sunshine when the world is suffused in a mellow glow, the countryside a thousand shades of gold and green. The cool, dark evenings bring their own pleasure: a quiet, secret space, perfect for sorting and planning and looking forward.

And so we’ve spent the last few weeks clearing, dusting, moving furniture, painting walls and scrubbing floors in our new—and, God willing, “forever”—home. The house is a delight. Built in the early 50s, it is just on the cusp of “vintage” and bears many original features of the time—light switches, warm air heating shafts, door handles and parquet flooring (the cool, smooth wood underfoot is heaven). The house (our family home for almost 30 years) is already decorated and furnished to a concoction of my grandparents’ and parents’ taste—mainly Victoriana, some utility pieces dating from when our dad set up home for the first time in the 40s, lots of pink and lots of florals. Perhaps much of it is deeply unfashionable now—but it works because everything was chosen with purpose, love or both.

There are so many layers that make a house a home—details that are impossible to replicate, like the many notes my late mother left around the place. ‘UP for on DOWN for off’, ‘To lock turn RIGHT’, ‘Please pull shower curtain carefully’ and the number for the bird seed man in triplicate. There are no plans to take them down. I can never remember whether it’s up or down, left or right, I must stop tearing the shower curtain back dramatically and we’ll have to phone the bird seed man when the supplies run out.

Location, as they say, is key, and there is nowhere more beautiful than Suffolk in late summer. The agricultural landscape in which we sit is a reminder that life here is plentiful and tranquil. Our garden is semi-wild and perfect that way. Cultivated roses frame overgrown patches where deer, foxes and many species of bird make their homes. It’s the pheasants who are the most proprietorial: they stride up and down outside the kitchen window, trying to catch your eye, reminding us that we are mere lodgers in their home.

And so I have the pleasure of coming full circle to sleep and write in my childhood bedroom, and reproducing my adventures here for my own children. Nothing can mitigate the loss that has brought us back, but it is a privilege to live exactly where one’s heart desires, and a comfort to hear the house resonating with a loud creak every now and again, a reminder that it’s watching over us, like its absent matriarch.