Change is coming. Already there are touches of lemon yellow weaving the greens and the children are full to bursting with blackberries and apples and all good things. Pickle and I have only a few more days of moochy mornings in dressing gowns, reading stories on the sofa between sips of coffee (just me, obviously) and making hazy plans for the rest of the day, typically including the park, the garden, a friend, an icelolly and a thwarted request to have pasta again for tea.
In the mainstream way of things, Pickle would be starting proper school on Monday! I'm very glad she won't be, although I think she would cope fine. Instead, she'll do another term at her lovely Montessori nursery, then start school part-time in January. Although I am feeling increasingly confident about my ability to homeschool without losing the last shreds of my mind, I know I'll appreciate being able to work more. I have been adding to my Etsy shop in the evenings. Here is a drawing by Thomas which I have titled Contemplation. I think it is a fantasy drawing of a different type - actually where he would like to be, taking some time to let his mind drift on a beautiful hill, with a spot of archaeology when he feels like moving. And always the joke is on the humans - the magpie, unseen, removing the best find of the day.
During the days, Pickle and I have been making the most of our time together. We visited a donkey sanctuary with some friends and I enjoyed, as I always do, seeing Thomas's gentleness in Pickle when she is with animals. Here she is grooming a lovely rescued donkey called Rodney. (She later speculated that he might have been pregnant.)
Chagford has had its annual Show. It's been a big farming thing for aeons with proper 'best veg' competitions which are taken absolutely seriously and Dartmoor bluefaced and greyfaced sheep winning beauty contests, but it has expanded into a funfair and art/craft event as well, with heavy horse and bird of prey displays, vintage steam-powered tractors and the like. I tried to photograph the sea eagle as it flew over us, but failed, sorry. Walking across one of the fields we found a teepee and crawled inside. There, Pickle was shown how to light a fire. She knows the theory from me and from Forest School, but this is the first time anyone's given her a bundle of dried grass and a striker and the time to try again and again and again until this happened:
I have read about the different ways mums and dads parent and I try to do some of both, which mostly means being less risk-averse than I would naturally be. This is the only explanation I have for taking Pickle on this:
We were so scared! And so excited! Pickle wisely opted to spend the time we were halted at the highest point with her eyes shut and her face buried in my chest. I wisely opted to hold on to the bar and to her tighter than I remember holding on to anything else ever. The best bit for me was watching Pickle's adrenaline rush afterwards. She really felt brave and that she had done a very Big Girl Thing - and so did I.
Danger and excitement followed us home. A friend gave Pickle a big egg. We put it in water and Pickle ran downstairs as soon as she woke every day to check the progress of the cracks ... what would come out? This came out:
A stegasaur! It is now right out of its egg and still growing! We are very relieved it is not a carnivore.
Keeping with our dinosaur theme, we have also made these:
We were very proud.
We have been to the Aesop musical put on by the older children round about. I had a bag full of shushing food, but needed none. Pickle was rapt for the whole performance and has said she wants to take part when she's old enough. Chagford Carnival has whirled past and Pickle was very much a part of that. We were in the square all day watching innocent children being drilled through the middle, or having knives juggled over their prone bodies. We watched the unicycling fire juggler play dodge-the-bunting. Pickle was first up for every dancing opportunity - we even did some morris dancing because Thomas would have loved that. Pickle bounced on the castle, had her face painted like a dog and was entranced again by songs from the musical. There were bands and locals singing and playing divinely and squiggly tail things on sticks which went viral within five minutes of the arrival of the curt cart man. Then there was the parade. We got ourselves seats on the graveyard wall and cheered as all the fantastic creations danced, chased, swam, sang, played, rode and toddled past. They were all amazing, but the one I will show you is the Save Our Library gang. What you can't tell from this photo is that a certain Tilly-walker is the dormouse.
So, these have been our happenings since last time, but what of Mr Right? Well, I know which city he is lives in, his hair and eye colour, his height and his weight. That is all. And on the strength of that I have selected him to be the donor dude for my next child. If this sounds like a flimsy foundation for faith, let me tell you a little story about an omen which came my way.
Some weeks ago a man appeared in my garden as I was hanging my pants on the line and beseeched me to buy into his charity lottery. No, I said, I already do the Air Ambulance lottery and that is all I can afford. Have you ever won? he asked. More people win with ours. No... But it's not really about that. I won't switch.
A letter arrived from the Air Ambulance Lottery. Sorry to trouble you. Mr Hine has won some money. We see he is deceased and have no next of kin contact.
I phoned the number. Yes, we can re-issue the cheque in your name. Hang on, I'll find out how much it was...
I am on hold, hoping it's the big £100 win, but knowing I'll be grateful for a tenner.
...Ah yes. Mr Hine has won one thousand and three hundred pounds.
At this point I start crying and telling the poor woman this couldn't be better timing because I really need the money.
The cheque duly arrives and the bank clerk takes it like this is a normal amount of money for me to pay in. It is a huge sum for me; nothing like what the IVF will cost, but a big help.
Then I am sent my Blind Date info about all the men I might like to mix genetics with and plump for Mr Birmingham. And THEN it transpires that if this all comes off in the first go, I can now cover the costs without borrowing. Thomas may yet, against apparently insurmountable odds, be able to give me the baby we wanted to make together.And if that isn't an omen then nothing is. Which may well be the case. But for me it feels like a blessing from Thomas on this new child and a sign from the universe that I am making good decisions. It feels like there is a real chance that my dreams will come true: that I can complete my family and no-one else need get very ill or die. We can simply live happily ever after.