It’s another one of those gloomy mornings at Flowerbook – even the dogs are reluctant to venture out for the morning walkabout. The temperature’s a cool 17C and the visitors are still curled up under duvets and blankets – perfect weather for sleeping in. Some cool jazz vocals emanate from RIFF on WorldSpace (sounds like Al Jarreau doing ‘Take Five’) and the steaming cup of coffee just hits the spot.

The Dancer’s family (thirteen in all, with a couple more still to turn up) have made it up for the annual get-together during the New Year holidays and the place will soon be buzzing with different activities. Baby Avalok and Little Mira need constant attention – Avi in particular (all eighteen months of him), with his penchant for the dogs that manifests in him trying to kiss them and grab any part of them that is within his reach. Fortunately Buzzy, Bruiser and Rocky are amazingly tolerant, even though they are not used to the trip. Sally, however, gives Avi a wide berth and stays out of his reach. The rest of us take turns to keep our eyes on the children, in-between chatting, strolling around the garden and farm and playing ‘Gestures’ and ‘Taboo’, with promises of a major game of ‘Scrabble’ coming up later today.

Hesh, Umi and Thaji have done this trip from the time they were Mira’s and Avi’s ages, as they would usually accompany The Dancer and me to Flowerbook in their early days and also later, during all their school vacations, so have a particular affinity with the place. The only bummer for them are the leeches that appear when the ground gets soggy, although they know in which areas they shouldn’t tarry long enough to attract the suckers.

Looks like the sun is making a valiant effort to pierce the cloud cover, so hopefully it won’t be gloomy for too much longer. The birds are busy scoffing guavas and mulberries off the trees that are just outside the window that faces me as I do this, and RIFF’s got Weather Report doing Birdland – a tune that’s high on Java’s list of all-time favourites, so perhaps the rest of the day will be brighter – although the family will ensure that the brightness within will persist, no matter the state of the weather.

And so it goes.

Ooops – almost forgot – HAPPY NEW YEAR y’all!