It's important to have something to look forward to, I find, particularly at this time of year.
Spring is easy. The willow tree in my garden goes from bare branches to a yellowish blurring of outlines to a pale green fuzz and then proper leaves. Each stage has me looking towards the next, and the new buds are just so hopeful and full of promise. I know which neighbours have the early blossoming trees in their gardens and which patches of my own will produce flowers next. It's much easier to feel good about the world when the days are lengthening and the world is coming back to life.
Summer - well, that all depends on the weather. A decent bit of warmth and sunshine and I think my cup runneth over. There are vegetables to sow and tend, fruit growing on my trees, and long evenings sitting outside chatting.
Autumn and winter are hard going. I like the quality of light on sunny autumnal days, with that crisp feel to the air and strangely comforting smell of dead leaves. I love snow, and loads of it. But the dark days, the dampness so much a part of this climate and the way the world is painted in a palette of mud tones and grey - it's a tough gig.
So, things to look forward to is my coping strategy.
My best and most reliable thing to look forward to is my annual ballet weekend with my Very Excellent Mate Bon. She's my mate of longest standing in the UK - the first friend I made when I moved here and the only schoolfriend apart from Mark I kept in touch with. The third weekend in January is our usual date but Matthew Bourne's production of Edward Scissorhands finishes early this season, so we're moving it forward a week. I have never yet had a less than lovely time (except when I was 37 weeks pregnant with Miss B and in terrible pain, but that wasn't anyone else's fault.)
I'm browsing hotels for it already and will be able to book my train seats next week.
I am also looking forward to another Matthew Bourne ballet - Lord of the Flies. Luke and I are going together in early December. He studied it for English Lit last year and is keen to see it. I love that my son is interested in all forms of story telling, not just movies or games. We share a lot of films, books, graphic novels and radio programmes together, and it's brilliant. Luke is great company and has an original perspective on things. I am VERY much looking forward to our outing.
Back in early September when East Coast Rail were having a lightning sale I booked train tickets for Miss B and I to go to London together on our own. That's coming up in a month. The plan is to ride the London Eye - which the lads have done but B hasn't - and do everything B is interested in. I expect sweets and toys may be involved. We'll have 5 hours on the train to chat and play and make plans, or reflect on all we've done - and I do love travelling by train. We'll have a brilliant day, and it will be ace to watch her discover her London. I already know the lads' London, and my own.
I am also very much looking forward to one particular aspect of Christmas. I think getting the tree, decorating it and then putting While You Were Sleeping on while I wrap presents in front of it is my all-time favourite part of Christmas. It's that smell. The pine needles may shed and it can be a faff getting the thing upright in the stand, but a real tree is pretty much as good as the festive season can get. Each decoration is an old friend - some made by Mum and me when I was a kid, some by our kids when they were little, some reminders of trips or events in our lives. And lavish amounts of tinsel. And red or silver baubles. I can picture it in my head now and it's fabulous.
The soonest thing I am looking forward to is Sunday, November 2nd at 7pm. At that time my lovely Z will get home from his week-long trip to Germany with Youth Club. He'll be tired out and bursting with all the stories of what he saw and who he met. The house will have all its people home again. I will sit on the couch, probably sharing take away pizza with everyone and listening to Z share all his enthusiasm and pleasure in new things with us while his brother and sister try to talk over him. And it will be brilliant.