An acorn

Pocket of Frost by Hannah Foley. All rights reserved (

Finch stuck a perfect golden acorn to his bedroom door with blue tack. Right in the middle, where his nose might hit the door, if he didn’t stop to open it. He didn’t say a thing about it. It just appeared and I noticed it when I took a pile of clean laundry up. I knelt down and considered the acorn. Golden like a toffee caramel, sitting in a patterned green cup. I could see why he’d decided to honour it. A tiny thing, capable of growing a giant tree, put on a plinth. We don’t often elevate the little things, but they are what makes the world go round. A little insight too, into the beautiful mind of my boy.

Another little thing, much revered in our house because Wren is named for them, I watched a wren hopping over logs, picking out the bugs from the crevices. Hop, hop, blink, blink. One bright eye, then the other, watching me. She didn’t sing but it is not the time of year for that. Now is the time for filling up on protein to see her through the cold months.

I watched a nuthatch too, in the top of the goat willow, tap, tap, tap. An ink-streaked dart, clinging at impossible angles. I wonder what he makes of Finch, pulleying a pallet into the goat willow for a treehouse. Tap, tap, tap goes Finch, clinging at impossible angles. Later, when he’s not looking, we’ll make sure it’s safe and add a few struts to be sure, but for now, we don’t want to intrude on his dreams.

December: frost makes the pavements twinkle in car headlights; clover leaves are encrusted with glistening jewels in the top field. I pin a card to the inside of the allotment shed, wishing the new tenants the very best of growing. Deep breath, it’s a big moment to hand on this patch of soil that has taught me so much. We put the last tools in the back of the pick-up and secure the bench with ropes. I padlock the gates, and that’s that. Not quite. Our plot neighbours call to us to pop back for tea, we know when they’ll be there, the same as usual. And they’d love to visit the land.

The house is a hive of festive activity: learning lines and arguing over costumes for school plays; Christmas songs jingling in the kitchen; hunting for change for the school raffle; half-written Christmas cards; letters to Santa ready to post; boxes hidden in the back of the wardrobe; advent calendars propped up on the piano; plans to make my own mincemeat abandoned; paper and ribbons. Little things that make the world go round.

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