The brown paper bag the Calendula seeds were in is finally empty. I watch the cleared patch of ground for weeks and am overjoyed to see the simply shaped leaves pop through. Then there are tight, green buds of promise. One morning I stand with a cuppa and gaze lovingly at a proud orange flower. These flowers are the simplest flowers. Like Daisies, they are not show offs. They are the first flower form every child draws, everything about them round edges. They are so bright in the dim, lingering winter that I can’t help but see them a sass as a plant. I perch on the edge of the garden bed and sit with them. They are like my mum’s smiles in my garden, company as we wait for summer.
OFG sounds like a lad in a club, making me explode with laughter. He has collected lady bug/bird (beetles) off of the trees and put them in a box habitat. The previous evening he’d put a roof on for them to keep out the rain, lifting it off in the morning and greeting them with “hello laaadies”.
I fall ill for the first week of the school holidays. Truth be told, due mainly to our shack and stress levels, I never got well but got worse. Shuffling around like a snot zombie I was heartened to see my Gurus have the imagination to entertain themselves. Garden snails were collected and habitats created – rescued from the storms that are battering our part of the world. Snails were raced, fed and hung out with. TFG sat reading, snail moving sedately over her head, leaving silver trails that shone like disco glitter in her reading light. I warn her that they must go back outside before bed as they also devour literature but in an entirely different way. After a shower to remove the snail messages she sadly bid her slimy pals goodnight. OFG is slightly less co-operative. I go in to check on him in the night to find constructed apartment buildings for snails (all of whom have chosen to venture out and stick over things like ancient dirt baubles). When well enough to start a tidy up I am snail taxi, returning found friends to their wilderness in the garden.
The husband takes them out for bike rides and they return home triumphant and tired. Both Gurus have mud all over them and the husband tells me they felt it was unavoidable. Neither of them feeling inclined to change, they spend the rest of the day decorated with evidence of the fantastic side effect to living in wetlands and having a long winter.
Children in a neighbouring garden are visiting their grandparents. The Gurus climb a tree and all four spend the afternoon chatting companionably – despite not knowing each other before then. I think about how adults are so difficult to befriend, with so many social rules. I imagine for a moment if it was a given that if you could see someone over the fence, you chatted with them. Possibly the world would be a better place if children taught grown ups about the importance of friendship.
We are playing a board or card game every night over dinner, right up until it is time to brush teeth. It is a grand time at the kitchen table, with much laughter. It was going to be just during the holidays but we own enough games it could become something we do every night we feel like it.
I am a little awkward in the shop. It is full of breakable knickknacks and OFG is unable to refrain from touching things. The lady in the shop gives him some packaging cushions to jump on and pop, then a sheet of bubble wrap. It lasts him through the breakable shop and the post office (where he usually sits in the passport photo chair to read one of the books they sell). I am very grateful to her and her ability to redirect his energy. In the butchers I am worried again. OFG is a big fan of laying against their glass counter to watch them through its curved surface. They have run out of stickers (OFG has lamb and beef sticker collections) but they give him some temp tattoos for their fundraiser for Breast Cancer research. He returns home feeling like he’s had the best day and I didn’t end up getting flustered at his enthusiastic shopping style.