The air is heavy when we awaken, there must be a storm coming. I open the skylights and a sudden gale whistles down the stairwell. My autistic 11 year old, still in pyjamas, is absolutely delighted. He sets up directly underneath the velux with an old Thomas the Tank Engine book and watches as the downdraft turns the pages for him.
Everyone else slowly gets up. We can feel the storm creeping into our bones. No one is much for moving this morning, except our littlest family member. She is standing at the back door with her boots on, holding a football; only a year old, but very determined.
Ten minutes later, my daughter and I are out in the fields. She finds a hollow, discarded corn stem from last year’s crop. As she holds the treasure aloft triumphantly, the twenty mile an hour winds whistle through it. She squeals as the magical singing sword comes to life.
There is a sprig of cow parsley on the footpath. My daughter rushes over to the hedgerow and spends quite a while trying to encourage the plant to rejoin its friends. I tell her that she can keep her find if she wants.
Clutching the flowers tightly, she heads off purposefully towards the darkening clouds on the horizon.
Soon, I am carrying these and many further treasures for her whilst she hunts around for yet more. A feather that was caught on a bramble. A snapped branch. A tiny stone. She pauses to draw faces into the soft ground with a twig.
The clouds, distant just moments ago, are shepherded towards us with increasing speed. The gale is picking up.
My little explorer carefully collects brittle fragments of fallen leaves from the path; opening her palm, she watches them take flight.
Our voices also fly away from us. I show her that we can shout as loud as we want into the storm and it sounds like just a whisper.
My daughter loves this game. She stands firm, bracing herself against the harsh weather, “HELLO!” She holds her corn-sword aloft and yells her favourite words; “RABBIT! FLOWER! FOOTBALL!” Her voice comes out as the tiniest squeak. She thinks. Looking up at the sky, she roars her fiercest tiger roar … just as the wind drops. Her eyes are wide with delighted surprise, did she do that?
She is full of smiles as we turn towards home, her hand in mine. I confide to her that only the bravest and strongest can send a storm back to where it came from.
—Keep safe and well everyone. With heartfelt thanks to all those who are working to keep us safe, especially those on the frontline in the NHS and hospitals around the world.—