November Sketchbook & Journal

I can’t come, sorry, I’m wintering

5th November

Ten years since our first date! A whole decade of loving Ross. We left the kids with Granny and Papa and went to walk the path along the Kale water that we used to walk so often with Buddy, back in our Teapot Street days.  We sat on the bench under the big beech trees (flame-bright with their orange leaves) and watched the river.  A flask of tea and two massive slices of cake.  We saw a kingfisher (twice.  Or two different kingfishers), a dipper, some enormous fish jumping (they made such a splash, I actually thought it was a Labrador jumping in from the bank).  The sun got gradually lower, and the river got duskier.  By the time we left, a bat was flitting low over the surface of the water.  It was heaven.  We talked and talked and counted our blessings again and again.  

7th November

The nursing home here at Drygrange always does a fireworks display.  It is rarely on Bonfire Night.  This year it was the Tuesday after Bonfire Night. We were just tucking into our tea when we heard the bangs begin. Piglet couldn’t remember seeing fireworks before. His initial reaction was to come back inside, but after a pep talk and some ear defenders, he headed back out into the garden to watch them. The joy on his face was total, pure, luminous.  It was so beautiful to witness.  And Trix saw a sky full of stars for the first time.  A magical twenty minutes in our back garden on an otherwise average Tuesday.  

8th November

Starlings, rooks, crows all moving in flocks in the sky. They seem so much more present in the autumn and winter. Trees almost bare, blank skies.  Trix loves to spot a DURD!! (bird) and is always trying to make friends with the crows. I’m moved by the simplicity of watching my daughter chase birds.  She knows she is safe. I think of the children in Gaza and I feel sick.

13th November

I’ve officially powered down for winter.  This happens every year (but always feels unfortunate as the run up to Christmas is always very full-on in the studio and I could do with extra energy, not less).  My new catchphrase is “I can’t come, sorry, I’m wintering”.  I’ve been thinking about what it is to live more seasonally.  The little daily acts, rituals, routines that signal a seasonal shift – lighting candles at breakfast time (the kids blow them out when the Weetabix is done); the mind-numbing repetition of wrestling small children into layers of thermals and waterproofs; closing the curtains; blankets over knees (Piglet loves to get tucked in on the sofa!); bowls of soup.  I suppose even the cycles of calpol and nose-wiping are a sort-of giving-in to the season.

I’ve decided that Tired and Busy are no longer part of my identity.  I am merely living a full life (and that includes night times!).  The word ‘busy’ doesn’t make anyone feel good – not the speaker (who feels harassed and overwhelmed) nor the hearer (who feels like a nuisance).  

14th November

Another wet nursery run.  Mallards flying across the road, slightly hazy in the damp mist.

15th November

“I don’t know how to speak of place anymore without acknowledging my privilege … I’m here telling you about a house with a roof and a garden and water and warmth and I am shook with it.  With the embarrassment, the shame.” – from Cacophany of Bone by Kerri ni Dochartaigh.  This passage was written in a memoir of the pandemic year but it seems so fitting with the current atrocities in Gaza.  I am shook with the shame of it all.

17th November

Trees almost totally bare.  Strange to think of no leaves until March.  The fallen leaves are soggy and slippy on the path.

19th November

I went to a Natural Pigments class at Birkhill House.  A lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  Being around people who are passionate about something is soul food.  I could write a whole blog about it but there’s no time right now. There was alpacas, a stubborn cat who stole my seat, an open fire, and art materials to play with! Heaven. Although, about half an hour from the end, I felt desperately homesick.  Maybe because playing with art materials is something I do with the kids?  Maybe because feeling creative and being with my little ones aren’t separate for me anymore?  I’m not sure.  I’m such a homebird these days.  Hannah-in-her-twenties would have scoffed at me and teased me.  Hannah-in-her-thirties is very content.

25th November

I’ve discovered that the mice in the loft have eaten through two pockets of one of the advent calendars that mum made for us when we were little.  I had got them out to get them ready to fill for the kids this year.  This stings a little as there aren’t many ways that Granny Helen gets to be part of things. Mendable, though (but how I wish she was here to help me mend it). These mice are hungry little scamps.  That’s two car seats, a mattress, an advent calendar and a baby gym they have eaten through now.  Ffs.  I’d be so delighted to live in harmony with them if they could just stop scoffing our stuff.

29th November

First snow! Just a light dusting, really.  But enough to make a few wee snowballs to lob at each other after nursery.  Trix was totally charmed by the snow.

November sketchbook page by Hannah Longmuir
November sketchbook page by Hannah Longmuir
natural pigments on canvas
natural pigments on canvas
November sketchbook page by Hannah Longmuir

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