Monday, January 18, 2016

january chill

The holidays are over, the girls are back at school - and for the first time ever at the same school! They just had 3 days last week, this one is 5 - 5 days of being woken much earlier than they're used to, of concentrating and socialising and managing the radical heat we're currently experiencing.
It's an adjustment for us all.

I started work on the 6th and our wonderful beloved Nonki (She's back! We're thrilled!) came in to look after them. I felt some parental guilt, and suggested some outings, some activities - some fun holiday excitement for the last week of their summer break.
But were they interested? Nope.

There were a couple of trips to my brother's pool, but other than that there were days, endless long summer days of pyjamas and pets and books and games and drawing and dragon cataloging and audio stories and forts and Lego and lawn tumbling and snack eating and just ... being.
Just, as this article which conveniently cropped up on Facebook at the same time said, '... learning to be whoever they are when no one is watching.'

Alone time, pottering away, whiling away hours in seemingly unproductive but totally absorbing pursuits - preferably in pyjamas - is how I relax, recharge and reset myself. The girls have the same inclination. I couldn't be happier.
And grateful that something which has sometimes made me feel like a bit of a lazy slob, is actually a sound parenting ideal. How easy was that one?!

Saturday, January 09, 2016

back to the beach

New Year's eve found us going back to the beach. This time with GEAR.

We used to sleep on beaches all the time in our youth. Beaches, cars in beach parking lots, back stoeps of unoccupied seaside holiday homes. All illegal.
Back then our supplies list comprised of a kikoi, a dooswyn, and diving gear. Food was caught and cooked right there on a driftwood and kelp fire - crayfish, perlemoen, allekrik, fish.

Not so any longer. The dogs and the kids were the only ones left with any energy by the time we got settled in.

Not another soul to be seen. Us, the oyster-catchers, the seagulls and one putrefying seal in the next cove. Luckily the wind stayed in our favour.

Coolers, coolers, coolers, food, chairs, wood, toys .... tables, watermelon (a watermelon!), pots and pans. Lotsa ice. Dog blankets and food. Lotsa water.
All illegal.

All totally worth it.

31 December is all about the sunset actually (or sunrise on the 1st I guess if you're a morning person). At the end of the last day, or the beginning of the 1st, one should be somewhere, or with someone, meaningful I reckon. Whatever with this hype about midnight.

Midnight found us though - deep in our cups, roaring with laughter on those wild screaming beaches. A bonfire raging, various delicious bits 'n pieces being passed around as they came off the fire. At The Moment we walked down to the surf, fireworks exploding from 3 separate villages in the distance, laser beams of phosphorescence running up and down the breaking surf as far as the eye could see.
We screamed and whooped and smooched and cheered. The dogs ran mad gambits and the sea crashed in the background. We felt alive.

Later, crouching for a wee further down the beach my feet sparkled with phosphor in the sand. Later still I crept into a warm tent, nestled up to two small sleeping bodies and marveled at how loud the ocean really was.
After a few short hours screeching gulls woke me at dawn, then an inquisitive dog nose and finally the enthusiastic sunrise of 2016. The nerdy younger sibling of NYE's cool host, all 'Hey guys, what you doing? Isn't this exciting?' I doubt he ever gets the reception he expects.

A swim in the sea. A beer. A pita bread of pulled lamb, slow roasted overnight on an outdoor fire.

A private beach in one of the most beautiful places in the world.
I can't think of a better way to start a year.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

babes in the wood {catch-up post}

Just before Christmas the girls and I got out of town for a few days with two of my girlfriends and their kiddies.

This is what girl camping looks like - cheese, crackers, fruit and bubbly!

Platbos is a small slice of Afro-montane forest a couple of hours drive out of town. Real forest mind you - old man's beard swathed about, fairy nooks, tendrils of mist and gnarled faces in the trees. A cool and quiet place in which to rapidly gear down from the madness of the last few months.
Very peaceful.
Until we lost Stella and her little friend.
For 25 minutes we walked and called through the woods - Frieda's face tight with consternation that she'd let her sister out of her sight, me modelling a courage and calm that came only from the necessity of being the Grown Up.
I honestly didn't think any harm would come to them (actively ignoring the many signs about wild bee colonies), but I knew that the longer they were alone the more upset they'd be getting. Poor wee things.

This little forest - so peaceful, evocative of picnics and fairies and mythical sprites, quite quickly became a darker place - the quiet suddenly seeming a little menacing, our calls of 'Stellllaaaaa' quickly absorbed by the dense undergrowth. Thoughts of bears and witches, every mysterious story ever heard of children disappearing in the wilderness ... amazing how this material rests in our subconscious, just waiting to be awoken.

And then we heard from camp, faintly on the breeze ... 'Found them' ... and there they were, tear-stained and wide-eyed, drinking hot chocolate and trying to find their smiles. Stella rushed to me and clung on, waiting 'til I walked away from the group before letting out a sob.

The recovery was swift, and soon they were out exploring again - staying well close to Frieda this time (the big sister who can read signboards).
I think they'll remember this always though, as I remember similar moments from my childhood - being alone, out of sight, facing adversity, and realising ... there won't always be a parent about.

Baby steps, little wings, safe adventures, nurturing instinct, listening to one's heart, examining one's environment - these are the crucial lessons of childhood. And parenting!