There is no room in the fridge.
It’s a small domestic detail which, frankly, does not belong in a post: but I have spent some considerable time this evening attempting to push a very big chicken’s bottom into a very small space in said fridge, and I have failed.
“I can’t get the chicken in the fridge,” I told Phil grumpily.
“That’s ok,” my husband volunteered, cheerily. “It’s perfectly cold enough outside.Put it on the garden table.”
We both knew there was a fundamental flaw in that plan, and his name was Foxy. I cannot believe that this gorgeous brush-tail would pass up a chance to drag a ready-culled chicken off into the forest for a little night feasting. The cellophane would be a mere hors d’oeuvre.
Phil thought hard for a moment. His face brightened. Phil is an ideas man: but his ideas are often eccentric.
“I know!” he exclaimed. “We’ll put it outside on the table, but we’ll get the big mixing bowl and put it over the top!”
I refrained from pointing out that foxes have noses; and that short of nailing the bowl down around the chicken, there was little one could do to keep Foxy from feasting tonight.
So as I type, the chicken sits outside on the table. I might as well put out a napkin and some barbecue sauce.
The chicken is not the only one out-of-place tonight: I, too, have been crowded out of my favourite haunt.
In the evenings the two children, the dog, the cat and Phil and I shut down the ground floor and gravitate to our bedroom on the middle floor to watch television, and play, and write, and file in and out of the bathroom one by one.
The two huge windows look straight out on the forest. In Summer they are wide open so it feels as if we are part of all the foliage. In Winter, we watch the frosty moon rise over black filigree twigs and branches.
Macaulay sleeps in the corner, we lounge on the sofa or the huge bed, and time passes by in sweet serendipity. It has become increasingly shabby, being, effectively, the family’s favourite living room.
Phil has blown the whistle and called time. The room must be redecorated, albeit simply.
And so this afternoon, after the traditional Saturday nap, I was ordered out of my Centre of Operations, trailing my laptop and cord disconsolately. And while I know this must be done- rather like a child with a pungent comfort blanket – the loss of this most central of rooms, even for a short time, smarts.
As I type, I am tucked up ready to sleep on the sofa in the sitting room, and Phil on the floor. The dog cannot believe his good luck. Hello, he emanates, here you are on the sitting room floor. How novel. You’re both much lower than usual: almost on my level, indeed. Excellent, he huffs happily, exuding essence of barnyard.
He has curled up in his small plastic tub-basket, sublimely happy, as if, to him, this is a little holiday.
Sleep well, Macaulay, for a change is as good as a rest.
Changes are afoot at Big Al’s place, too: the quest for space in a busy family household never quite ceases. Big Al’s Dad has been eyeing up the shed.
He has cleared the area around the present little wooden shack and speculates whether something a little more spacious would provide a little grown up bolthole.
A summerhouse at the bottom of the garden: now there would be a place to retreat to, when Al’s on an investigative rampage. A detached wood-plank sanctuary from the world.
There is a word: Poustinia. It is a Russian concept, a wooden shack where one may go for spiritual contemplation. It refers to a short period of silent retreat; an emptying of oneself in order to listen to the music of the spheres.
Everyone needs their place, a place of sanctuary, a place to recharge and be the most honest self one can be. A writing room, a shed, a bedroom: it is a place as still as the eye of the storm, without the threat of tempests returning.
It is one step further to finding that stillest of places inside us: the eye of the tempestuous world.
The chicken may or may not make it through the night; that issue is in the jaws of our four-pawed tenant. But Macaulay and I will be back in our favourite room tomorrow evening, grounded ready to face another week. And I’d like to think that before long, Al’s Mum and Dad will have a port in the storm, there at the bottom of the garden, where the tempest cannot touch them.
A poustinia. A port in the storm.
Picture source: Mar J Clay Peters, The Old Garden Shed: from Saatchi Online here