Advent unexpected


A storm rattled the old house through the night, and the skirl and howl of the winter wind took away sleep. Or perhaps it was rather the swirl of stuff in my head- but either way, the grey of the dawn brought a headache and a developing awareness of the inevitable head cold gifted no doubt by William, who has been stretched out on the sofa for a few days.

But today is a Saturday, and Saturdays are special.

They offer the possibility of all sorts of meeting and greeting and adventuring. But above all, they offer time away from the worries of work and school, and I can share them with my wife and kids. There is nothing better in this life I reckon.

Having said that, perhaps because of the fallen nature of this wonderful but flawed world, things are rarely as easy as this. Saturdays are often stolen by a thousand obligations.

Michaela, bless her, will often introduce the subject of another ‘task’ obliquely. Or perhaps it just seems that way as I was not listening properly. But she knows that every second filled with tasks, no matter how blessed, I easily resent…

Today was a case in point. A day filled with DIY, trips to the tip and the collecting of kids and then a trip to fetch a Christmas tree… which turned out to be an absolute joy.

It began with a drive in the early winter dusk as the mingling air misted at the level of the lower branches.

Past Loch Eck, a glassy smooth reflector of the mountains lined with bones of snow.

And a friendly man at the Glenbranter forest station who helped us pick out a tree with humour and a genuine warmth with the kids.

Crunching over the muddy ground half concreted still by insulated ice.

Then a tea and mince pie in the ranger station, whilst the kids were drawn like iron filings to the magnet of the piles of ploughed surviving snow- too hard now to compact into balls, but magical just the same.

And I walk out on my own for a moment, in the middle of Argyll Forest in the gathering dark. Mist still hanging in the trees, but just enough light to make out the white of the mountain tops beyond.

And rejoice.

A suitable advent moment- all the better for being unexpected, in the press of a curmudgeonly day.

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