Seasonal rituals

The children went back to school and it all seemed to be going okay. Then the news came that gatherings were being restricted to six people due to a rise in Covid numbers. My heart sank. After all that has happened since March, all the juggling to keep home and work going without our usual support. After all the effort to get the children back to school; the physical as well as emotional work it has involved. I couldn’t bear the thought of schools being closed and having to start from scratch again. 

Then Wren came home from school with a runny nose and sore throat on Friday and my heart sank even further. We watched and waited. No cough and no temperature. Thankfully, by Sunday evening she was only a slightly hoarser version of her normal self. But by then Finch had caught it, and with his asthma. it went straight to his chest. He wheezed and he spluttered. Did that count as a cough? We got out the timer. The wheezing-splutteriness came every three hours or so. Was it a cough and was it continuous? No sign of a temperature. We decided it was safer to keep him off on Monday. After all the hullaboo of getting him back to school it was more than depressing that he was off again so soon. 

Then Little Owl’s throat started getting sore. We watched and we waited again. No wheeze this time but definitely some spluttering. We still weren’t sure whether it could be counted as a cough. You’d think, being a nurse, I‘d be able to define a cough, but it turns out it’s more nuanced than even I realised! We decided to keep her off for the day to be sure, but it disturbed the momentum she’d built up coping with the big-overwhelming-scariness of high school and there were tears going back this morning.

At work we were getting into gear to start flu vaccinations this week then someone was off because her husband had a cough and another was off because she had a cough, neither able to return to work until they’d had a clear covid test…the nearest test available being in Glastonbury. These absences came on top of another team member getting caught out in a quarantine area after travelling to Europe to see her elderly parents, now completing her two weeks of isolation. If Wren had turned out to have a cough I would have been off too. What with spluttering kids and coughing husbands amidst the inevitable winter sniffles, gloomily I wondered to myself whether we’ll be fully staffed at all this winter. I’m trying hard not to dwell on it but the implications of a tickly cough are enormous.

The days have been golden here but there is a chill in the air. I love this time of year. Seasonal rituals continue and thank goodness for that. My dad helped me finish off shifting that manure at the allotment and I started sowing field beans for a green manure. Jagged lines of geese fly over head. In the garden the children and I filled tubs with tulip and crocus bulbs. Little Owl planted pansies in window boxes, and put an especially cheery one in a little terracotta pot outside the kitchen window. I smile whenever I see it.

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