Dinner is stew so it can be served up any time. In Winter, chances are, he’ll be in early from the yard. I can see the farm from the house in Summertime, but in Winter, from the kitchen I go by sound alone. I listen for the Winter timetable of sweeping, scrapers, tractor engine and shovelling. Cows who may have earlier bellowed for the unwrapping of a silage bale have slowed to an intermittant satified mooing and I guess I’ll hear the back door close soon.
Still no sign and I’ve placated the children with the promise of Daddy’s arrival for too long. From the upstairs skylight, I try to see how long he’ll take before his trip in for dinner. Daylight is replaced with fluorescent tubing and tractor headlights. Every now and then, you hear the shuffle of an animal to her feet as she moves to a cubicle for the evening ahead. From the farmhouse, it seems at least, that farming in Winter is a theatrical affair.
At last, there is a rattle of a stainless steel gate followed by the heavy trudge of tired wellies and I know he is almost here. There is just enough time to boil the kettle and draw the tea. In the farmhouse, there is a hurried rattling of plates and calls to the dinner table. From the Winter darkness, he arrives in to warmth, light, chatting, wrestling and dinner, closing the door for the evening on the farmyard.
From the farmyard, on the shortest and darkest day of the year, he walks into the light. There is always light.