A few nights ago I wasn't feeling too good. It was nothing really serious, just that aching, queasy, bleah kind of feeling that's impossible to put a name to. The thought of having to cook made me heave and the prospect of holding myself upright for any longer than necessary was not a happy one, so I admitted defeat and hauled myself off to bed for a very early night.
I know the Mad Druid checked in on me from time to time, and I was vaguely aware of him asking if I wanted something to eat. I grunted something from beneath the covers that I hope he interpreted as 'No thank you darling, but it was sweet of you to ask', but in fact was something rather less pleasant (which I won't repeat here, just in case he's reading this.) It was in that hazy state of not quite sleep that I slowly became aware, just on the edge of consciousness, of various clatterings and mutterings coming from the kitchen. This was rather an odd experience, and one which had I been feeling only slightly more 'with it', I would no doubt have put a stop to.
The Mad Druid rarely spends time in the kitchen. He might deposit the supper plates in the sink, or put the kettle on but that's about it. I am, maybe, just a tad possessive about my kitchen. He is only half joking when he tells people he has to go through passport control before he's allowed in. The kitchen is My domain. Mine, its all mine I tell you. *cackles*
And because it is mine, I can do what I like with it, put whatever I want in it, and I do. My altar is in my kitchen (the one I use most often anyway). There are jars of herbs (normal), flowers and thorns (less normal), dirt (odd by most people's standards) and bones (guaranteed neighbour deterrent) and that's just the tip of the iceberg. I have feathers and fancies, plants and potions, sticks and shells, bits and bones...did I mention that already?
Most of my dead things have come from the beach. Some are identifiable, some less so. All are welcome in my kitchen, their spirits have a home here. Collecting from the beach has its advantages, the bones are usually washed clean by the sea (OK, OK so I'm squeamish. Not a good trait for a witch but I admit it. Death I have no problem with, its the squishy bits I'm not so keen on. Go on, you can say it... lightweight! I know). It also means I can pass my collecting off as 'beachcombing'. Now isn't that all innocent sounding?
I always show the results of my forays to my Mad Druid. He'll usually nick the driftwood for something he's making, admire the shells and seaweed, and raise an eyebrow at some long dead fish and ask 'what are you going to do with that?' The answer is always the same, I grin and say 'Kitchen!' To which he nods, with eyes that say 'Oh Gods, I hope it's not going in the stew'. I have never taken the time to explain, I guess I didn't think I needed too.
Which brings me back to the other night, when my feeble body forced me to bed and my husband to fend for himself. It's the longest he's spent in the kitchen at one time since we moved here 18 months ago. And as he stirred and waited and rummaged through the cupboards he had plenty of time to look around and soak up his surroundings. I think he got a bit of a shock because later, when my feeble stomach could finally face a little food and he ventured into the bedroom bearing tea and toast, the first words out of his mouth were not 'how are you feeling Sweetheart?' but instead....'What is it with you witches and dead things?'
And when I've finally stopped laughing I might just give him an answer.