In the quarter hour of quiet time between a batch of after-lunch chores and another icy school run, my younger son and I snuggle down in the den, feeling a little sleepy and sluggish.
I am listening to Thea Gilmore and looking out at the snowy hills, trying to be patient about the long winter while longing for spring. Yesterday we picked the first few snowdrops from under the bare lime trees, and put them in a tiny vase in the centre of the kitchen table to enjoy. The first flowers of the year: so modest in their momentousness.
Lovely though they are, I decided we needed a bit of instant colour to keep us going. So I have cheated and bought some daffodil bulbs in shoot, which should flower before long,
and a bunch of my favourite flowers, pink tulips,
which I have put in a much-loved jug from the little pottery in Grassington in the Yorkshire Dales.
Being blessed with a big garden and, indeed, a gardener, I always feel a little guilty at spending housekeeping money on flowers. But at this time of year, when the ground is frozen solid, there is nothing doing in the garden: the gardener and groundsman keep themselves busy tidying up trees in the policies, pruning straggly branches and having great bonfires of the trimmings. It’s a fine job they’re doing but, if we want bright colour, we must look elsewhere. And seeing the delight with which my little boy greets these tulips when I bring them through to the den, smelling each one with a Cheshire cat smile, I realise that I don’t need to justify buying them. As surely as food nourishes the body, flowers nourish the soul.