December, Remember?

I’m in the house. On my own. It’s been a lovely warm day.

Behind and around the AC/DC riffs the house ticks quietly to itself, a satisfied kind of sound.

I’m in the kitchen. A few mugs to wash up. I’ll use the washing up bowl because the dishwasher needs emptying (there, I’ve said it!).

It’s suddenly, noticeably dark outside; the lamplight reflected back off the dark window. Something else …

A pale winged moth.   Smaller than one of this year’s expensive – but no doubt cheap compared to next year’s – first class stamps. A December moth. Because it is – it is December!

And I’m kind of smiling, kind of panicking because, talking of stamps there are Christmas cards to write (find the list first) and send…. The big day is just two weeks away after all.

Of course it is, maybe I just missed the signs.

Not the TV. Oh no! That’s been spewing out commercially packaged pap since the middle of October. Whoever carries out the cracked market research that tells companies that we need to be reminded daily about Christmas before the days get significantly shorter …. Sorry, I cannot finish the thought. But we’ve been getting the buy-me, eat-me, make-me, drink-me messages on a trance inducing scale for far too long.

Nah … TV doesn’t count.

But the sudden realisation that the deciduous hedgerows have dumped all of their leaves, leaving the previously hidden holly bushes and trees proud and berry-prominent is the first of the signs I missed. The bank-blanketing ivy too.

The school Christmas musical performance. It’s dark when you arrive; nervous, exciting and frantic while it’s going on and dark-and-cold when you leave.

The robin that hops – as if he owns the place – around the made from a  demolished shed compost bay. And inspects the December digging, sometimes nodding, sometimes diving beak into the soil to take something out, sahke it and fly to a fence post with it.

robin

The Status Quo concert. How many year has this quintessentially English band been bringing their wonderful brand of music to these parts in December I cannot recall. But this year the show is splendid. We have a good view; sound is fine. The beat is unrelenting, the musicians filled with energy and self-mocking humour throughout. No time for nostalgia, this is straight-down-the-road, on-yer-feet rock and roll. And they can play it! A few medleys that make it seem, when they break into the finale bars of Bye Bye Johnny that we’ve heard more songs than we actually have and out to join the zig-zag queue for the shuttle bus. Time to think about the presents I still need to buy (that’ll be all of ‘em then!).

Then, today: buying the Christmas tree.

Cannock Chase. Forestry Commission. (Coincidentally some years back the Quo played a summer outdoor concert here among the taller than houses rows of pines and firs  – didn’t miss that one either.)

There’s a busy-in-summer Go Ape trail I keep threatening to have a go at. It’s part of a town to town walking trail and becoming something of a Mecca for cyclists with what I’m told is a wide range of trails at all levels.

The car parks were packed, apparently, at the weekend; that strange panic-mentality when we all persuade ourselves we have to get the tree early before all-the-best-ones-have-gone. And, to be honest we’ve never bought one this early before. Today there is space and time to browse. These  trees are good specimens. We have always had a felled tree for Christmas. It feels right … and in my mind I’m supporting the growers in what I hope is a sustainable use of land. It’s not crowded, Santa’s Grottos, not surprisingly, is not open.

DSC02063

DSC02062Impulse buy a holly wreath to hang outside the front door.

The tree goes into a net, into the car boot, then into a bucket of water in the garage at home. The evening paper is filled with a list of things that will keep your Christmas tree “fresh”. These include keeping it away from bananas, giving it vodka and using hairspray. Sounds something like advice to a teenager going to a Christmas party eh?

Time to empty the dishwasher.

When I look back, the moth has gone.

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