Jonquils smell like childhood winters… running around in cold clover, rosy red noses and chilly toes. The appearance of white and yellow jonquils would always mark the changing of the seasons. Every year mum would help us plant the bulbs, and when they finally sprouted and flowered we were ecstatic.
It was like our own version of The Secret Garden, which was one of the decadently girly books (see also: The Little Princess) mum would read to us in serialised form each day of the school holidays. We’d lie in a sunny patch out on the lawn, on a blanket, and she’d read to us about exotic things like daffodils and crotchety old gardeners, and crushworthy boys like Dicken who’d tame squirrels and teach you stuff about nature.
Around this time of year, when there’s a certain kind of clear chill in the air, I often feel homesick for the George and specifically the wood stove in mum and dad’s kitchen. In winter months all the activity of the house moves to the kitchen to bask in its warmth, and there’s always a pot of soup or stew bubbling away. Dad makes the world’s best toast on the stove, with a toasting fork he improvised from fencing wire…
And while summer weekends always hummed with the lawn-mower dad would push around shirtless, winter weekends sounded like rugby league on the radio and the crack of the axe in the wood-heap. One of our favourite games was when Dad would drag us around the lawn in an old wool pack he used to collect fallen leaves and grass clippings. Wish I could run across the lawn and up the front steps and warm my toes at that stove right now….
Happy birthday dad!