Skipping lessons

Sketch of Sweet peas by Hannah Foley. All rights reserved ( you ever play skipping games as a child? I did. I especially loved the long rope games where two children would turn the rope for the others. Even better was when we had two long ropes turned between each other. We’d skip in pairs and triplets, calling each other in and out of the ropes. We had complicated routines full of tricks and twists. The ropes would spin faster and faster until at last we’d miss a step and the game would stop amidst breathless laughter.

Being good at skipping is all about timing. Just right now I feel a bit like a child learning to skip and getting my timing all wrong. We left a Scottish spring full of dark bare branches, tiny tips of green buds, and a smattering of snow. My gardening books tell me to allow for a four week difference in the start of spring between where we were in Scotland and our new home in Devon. With the warm weather recently it feels longer. On one day there was a ten degree difference between the two locations. All around me nature is at its busiest. Birds are frantically about their nest-building duties, the skies full of their song. Butterflies and bees flutter and tumble on the breeze. The tulips are already over. It feels like we are late and unprepared for the show. These last two weeks I have been paralysed by nature’s double pincer of potential and urgency. It’s affected me deeply and I’ve flapped around the rooms of our new home washing down a skirting board here, hanging half a net curtain there, wanting to get on but not finishing anything either.

I remember thinking I would never get skipping, especially jumping in on a long rope. Then suddenly you do and you’re away! That distinctive whisk, tap, whisk, tap, becomes second nature. Then you get a bit more confident and you add in a trick and a twist of your own. It’ll be the same here. It’ll just take a bit of practice and a good ear.

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