The house is strangely quiet. I am alone except for the dog.
It hasn't been this quiet since the beginning of June.
I don't think I have even been alone in the house since then.
There is no noise inside save for the ticking of the clock, the song of the birds drifting in through the open back door.
This quietness and lack of things happening around me feels odd.
As I look about a clean and tidy kitchen with a vase of fresh flowers in the middle of a completely cleared table, and glance at the worktop which for once holds no piles of dirty dishes waiting to be washed up, or put in the dishwasher, I'm even wondering if I'm in the right house!
The living room is clean and tidy, dusted and vacuumed, surfaces clutter-free. Fresh flowers on the coffee table. A small posy of sweetly scented home-grown sweet peas in a little jug on the lamp table.
This lack of the usual homely messes certainly feels odd.
But then I've had time to catch up today.
The first time I've had to myself for nearly three months.
(any real-life friends reading this who know my usually messy home will be shaking their heads right now in disbelief)
Usually I am rather guiltily relieved when everything starts back up again and daily routines are resumed, and my time is my own (to a certain degree, allowing for all the usual humdrum chores, school/station runs, errands, shopping etc)
But this feels different.
The end of an era I suppose.
I am having a taster of the days to come when both husband and child (hardly a child though now, at 18, with her school days firmly behind her, university ahead of her, and today, heading out of the house looking smart, beautiful and confident, leaving a trail of gorgeous and expensive-smelling grapefruit-scented perfume in her wake, off to her full time summer job which will run until she starts uni - I feel so proud ) are gone from the house all day, leaving me to pick up the pieces and straighten the home until their return.
So nothing unusual or out of the ordinary at all for most Mums, and for me this has been the norm since I stopped (even part-time) work a couple of years ago, but I have just had one of the most relaxing and longest summer holidays I have known since my own final school days, with both husband and daughter here all day since June.
The longest work-free stretch my husband will have had in nearly 40 years of working.
The first really long holiday for my daughter since starting nursery age 3 1/2.
Waking mostly to warm sunny days, day after day, one or more of us usually out and about in the world, or busy with jobs around the house and garden; friends visiting; visiting friends; long walks with the dog through good old country smelling muck-strewn wheat fields and sunny orchards with tall rows of swelling fruits; days out, shopping trips etc, some days not really knowing or caring what day of the week it is, but at the end of the day, all coming home here to roost - and so this sudden stillness in the house hits me quite hard.
Even though it has been the same every time the school holidays finish, year after year, term after term (unless I was working, then I tended not to notice amidst the daily bustle) I had forgotten how it feels after having them both around for so long.
It also hits hard as we are one down in our household. We sadly lost our beloved Bessie (our cat) a few weeks ago, all of a sudden - one day she was her usual self, two days later we had to say goodbye - the shock and upset of losing a beloved pet is hard to put into words.
We miss her so much, and still expect to see her coming down the garden path, or rolling on her back on the gravel drive to welcome you home when you step out of the car.
God Bless you Bessie, we love you and you are so sadly missed.
So with changes ahead, husband starting a new contract soon and daughter soon to be off to uni, although she has elected to live at home and travel daily this term (mothers worry note: I hope she doesn't miss out on the social life, making friends etc ........wish she felt brave enough to stay there.....where did I go wrong etc etc..........) the uni being within an hours train ride, I am starting to feel a little surplus to requirements - sort of "not needed on voyage" - a spare part.
Time to get my life back methinks!??
Thank you for being so patient and for humouring my introspective thoughts - I usually try and avoid sharing private stuff but I know there are many of my blogging friends who have been through this - not quite Empty Nest syndrome yet I agree, but partly-vacated nest maybe?
A hint of things to come, a little melancholy, a time of change.
Normal blogging will be resumed soon, and no more of this contemplative, navel-studying stuff I promise!