We were in two minds whether or not to postpone our spring celebration this year. It being spring, that change over season of alternating sultry warmth and chilling winds, everybody has succumbed to the latest cold and flu virus. Our son missed the last day of school on Friday, as his chest was so wheezy and tight and he'd been coughing half the night, the girls were both full of colds and my husband was also not feeling so great. I was the only one still germ free.
By Saturday morning people were all ready to come, the children were feeling better and though my sister in law was now prostrated with cold and overwork, we decided to go ahead with it. Far less exhausting than dealing with the children's disappointment had we put it off.
So I set to baking and ignored the suspicion of a sore throat that tickled insinuatingly about my tonsils. Quiches, white bread plaits, two chocolate puddings, a crustless milk tart and a batch of crunchies all succeeded each other in and out of the oven. The rugby world cup was duly watched and dissected, and the phone rang at intervals as more guests reported in sick until we were down to twenty-five.
The surviving friends, albeit most of them with sniffles, came and set to work cooking and making flower garlands, some with real flowers and rosemary, some with tissue paper and card or raffia. Others rebuilt the archway and decorated it with flowers from the garden and the children made little posies of flowers to go round the circle and then got digging to make a water feature. Sprinkles of rain sent everyone pelting inside at intervals but by the end of the afternoon it was clearer though cool.
The theme for our spring festival is water, water and flowers, so we carried brimming jugs of water down to the circle to the ethereal tune of a recorder duet, smelled the rich jasmine scent from the flowers around the circle, and gave thanks for all the rain we've had this winter, for friends and family and we sent our thoughts back out to all those who couldn't be with us.
Back in the house the loaves and fishes principle was in full force. The table stretched to fit us all, chairs and stools enough, a veritable feast spread out from everyone's contributions. The children ate, disappeared outside in to the darkness for their favourite festival activity of playing chase outside at night, until mindful of colds and coughs still lurking we summoned them back in far too soon with the lure of pudding. They then settled down to watch Narnia while we dallied over pudding and coffee and my sore throat made a bid for domination.
This morning after a night of more rain, a beautiful rainbow stretched over the hill behind our house as if in blessing of all our activities. And my throat is better, reduced to mere cold status with hot water bottles and tissue salts liberally applied through the night.