Powerless – The Year the Lights Went Out

Wednesday, June 18 – The nesting instinct

Today’s been a good day for laundering linen, as we’ve had sun, cloud and a breeze, so the washing doesn’t bake and stiffen, but dries relatively uncreased. And as the lavender is coming into flower, I dried some of the smaller things, the pillowcases, handkerchiefs and underwear, on the lavender bushes that edge the forecourt and the courtyard. They’ll smell even sweeter than when they’re dried on the line.
I know this compulsion to constantly launder is because of the baby’s imminent arrival. With my own babies I felt the urge to ‘nest’, trying to complete every domestic task well before the big day, but with the prospect of a precious grandchild I feel as driven as if it was my own. All must be clean, all must be as near to perfect as possible, in this fraught and dangerous world we are now living in.
The linen is not as clean as I would really like because of the quality of the water. How did we ever take mains water for granted? The turn of a tap for fresh sparkling water seems like another life altogether. Since the mains stopped working, our cleanest source has been rainwater and even that can be cloudy when it comes from the water butts. When we have heavy rain we try to collect it in clean buckets and bowls, but there is a limit to how much we can store. The well is also a useful source of water, but it’s murky and I insist we boil it first as it must be full of tiny bugs.
And out in the henhouse, the broody is also nesting. However, she is not rushing around madly cleaning and preparing, she is just quietly sitting in a stupor. I slid my hand underneath her this afternoon when I went in to collect the freshly laid eggs ( three) and I pulled out a warm egg to listen for signs that the chicks will soon hatch. The first one I held to my ear was silent, but the second was cheeping. Perhaps tomorrow I will hear it start to peck through the shell, or maybe I will find it has hatched and is peeping out from under its mother’s feathery bosom.


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