Saturday, 10 April 2010

Hever Castle in the Spring

Some are wearing fancy sundresses with sandals. Some have on the summer uniform for around here—capris and flops with wrap around sweaters and Bodin tshirts. Some of the men have manpris or jeans and tennis shoes with ragged tshirts. The other half have linen shirts tucked in to freshly pressed kahkis and funny ‘Indiana Jones’ sun hats that don’t do them any favors I’m afraid.

The whole place is ablaze with daffodils. Thousands and thousands of daffodils. Daffodils beneath the ancient groves of trees. Daffodils like carpet in the orchard at the base of the castle just this side of the moat. Daffodils with pink flowering trees among them. Some look like delicate stars. Some are big and fat and look like the sun itself. Bridger says the ones with orange middles look like faces, and I giggle as he imitates what they would sound like if they could speak.

Two hours chasing one another through the wooden maze and up and down the long metal slide. I sit in the sunshine. A tad uncomfortable but immeasurably happy. They try the zip line. Spend ages on the swings as Caid has discovered that this year he really doesn’t need a push and continually shouts, “Look how HIGH I am!” as if he can’t believe it himself.

We run to the bathroom and discover that the playground is nothing compared to the rhododendron trees. They teach the English brother and sister pair the term ‘hide-out’ and climb as high as they can and play pirates. Soon the game is disrupted when Caid’s sword—his BEST sword, the one he plays with every single day and carries with him everywhere—breaks. I can’t stand to see him so very heartbroken and we run right away to the gift shop and buy him a new one. Best £2.50 I’ve spent in ages.

Time for snacks. We choose a place near the field and overlooking the daffodiled orchard and the castle. I splurge—it’s a splurgish kind of day—and buy us a gluten free brownie and juice and crisps. Yum. We sit and chat and the boys get gooey-chocolate faced. Then they run and test out the new sword with ferocious duelling in the grass. I get a look from the mom at the table next to us because she has just yelled at her two to not wrestle, and I don’t make mine stop.

We walk to the Italian gardens. Turn a corner into the ‘blue garden’, and it instantly stops us in our tracks. Caid is climbing the rocks to sniff the blue polyanthus. Bridger kneels right down on the ground and sticks his nose into the flowers. Informing me it’s the hyacinths and not the violas that smell so “lovely.” I stand in the middle transfixed. Breathing in the delicious smell of hundreds of hyacinths and thinking I live an amazing life.

We walk back to the car the long way. Exploring a cave and a little sheltered area that Caid likes. I start to get tired, but I wouldn’t have traded the day. Sunshine. My boys. The flowers.

I sure am blessed.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

You know you’re 40 weeks pregnant when…

I grab my robe. Finally convinced by the 3 AM rumblings in my tummy that sleep will not return without a little smackerel of something from the kitchen. I walk downstairs in that hazy half-sleep place. Only turning on some of the lights. Noodles and sauce from the fridge. I head toward the bowls in the cabinet when—squish—foot meets slug. I scream. Then feel a bit silly as I turn on the light and reach for a paper towel. Had the paper towel been right there and able to wipe of the foot with no trouble that might have been the end of the story. However, on the way to the paper towel I spotted not one, but SEVEN more slugs. Seven 3 inch, nasty orangey-colored English slugs.

What’s a girl to do? Run sobbing to her knight in shining armor of course. “Scotty? Scotty? Nothing’s wrong. It’s okay. The baby is fine. But I’m hungry. I couldn’t sleep. I need a snack and there are slugs everywhere in the kitchen. Will you please come help me-he-ee-ee-ee?”

My mind races to that obsessive crazy place. I start imagining giant slugs eating my children and covering my world in slime. “What will I do when I have to feed the baby in the middle of the night? What if I need something from downstairs? How will I go into the kitchen if there are slugs everywhere? Last year there was only one slug occasionally. SEVEN slugs? Where are they coming from? This is too much! I haven’t even seen any outside yet. If there are seven now what about when it’s full-on slug season? Maybe they’re breading underneath my cabinets? There must be a hole in the wall? What else could get in from outside? What if Scotty is gone on a trip? How will I stomach cleaning up all of the slugs? Maybe we need a cat. Do cats capture and eat slugs? A dog? Maybe there are slug traps like mice traps. We only went to sleep a few hours ago. How did they get in here so fast? Aren’t slugs supposed to be slow? What if they get upstairs? I want to go back to Colorado. Oh NO!!!!!” I’m a sobbing, blithering idiot falling to pieces on the couch while my husband dutifully and sweetly not only cleans up the slugs, but also takes the trash out to the garage. I’m guessing he knew I’d be picturing them multiplying in the garbage can and bringing their armies to attack us.

Scotty calls me into the slug free kitchen and cracks a joke complete with hilarious slow-slug impression. “At least they don’t scatter when you turn the lights on!” he says and then moves slowly, slowly across the floor. I’m reminded of a story my mom told about living in married student housing on the New Mexico State campus and finding a cockroach when she unwrapped me from my baby blankets one night. I start to get the picture. Maybe I’m overreacting? I tell Scotty I’m sorry—that I’ll try to laugh as soon as possible about all of this, and that I’ll reconsider packing my bags for Colorado first thing tomorrow morning.

Friday, 2 April 2010

children are amazing

Children are amazing. Unpredictable. Infinitely more interesting than most adults. “What would you like to do today boys?” A museum! WHAT?!?! I shouldn’t be surprised. These are the boys that insisted we go to the Louvre in Paris (Scott and I weren’t thrilled—we’d been) because they needed to see the real album cover painting of Coldplay’s Viva la Vida. That was one of those moments when you realize your kids are cooler than you are and they aren’t even teenagers yet. Ah well.

Today was wonderful. We met friends at my favorite London locale—Borough Market. Drank coffee from Monmouth. Ate our chosen snacks standing up under the central structure since it was ‘chucking down’ rain. More proof that our children our cooler than us? Out of all the options at Borough Caid wanted cucumber and tomato salad with roasted sweet potatoes. Again, WHAT?!?! Then we sat at another coffee shop and visited for a while. The boys explaining their favorite aspects of various European cities. It was one of those I-can’t-believe-we-get-to-live-this-life moments.

Our friends left and the boys weren’t ready to go home. So at their request we walked to the nearest museum, the Tate Modern.

Art museums are amazing places with children. A gigantic steel sculpture is experienced with every sense. It’s brilliant to run underneath. Dark and creepy inside. Makes a fantastic hollow-echo sound when you run on it and should really be classified a climbing structure! I don’t know how the artist or the curators would feel, but I love to watch them assess artwork’s value through all of their sensory grids.

To my boys, what’s outside the windows is just as interesting as what’s inside the frames. They sat beside the Jackson Pollack and just across from Monet’s Water Lilies and sketched St Paul’s and the Millennium Bridge and the Thames outside the window. Bridger’s of course included people and animals. Caid’s was drawn on a grader scale and much more technical.

The sun had come out by the time we left. Blue skies over St Paul’s. We ate bratwurst and looked at daffodils in Southwark Cathedral’s gardens. Then we took the train home. It was one of those magic days. Made all the more interesting and rich and wonderful by the two little men who accompanied Scott and I. Children are amazing.