Monday, June 30, 2003

Discovery in sunlight
I am not sure if my back protests against reading the last student paper of the year, or if it tells me I was a very bad girl to sit on the plane all the way to Australia and back, but the result is that I have had trouble for weeks now. Yesterday, that led to a small discovery.

I had indulged myself buying plants. Not just flowers - irises, daisy, crysanthemum, poppies - but a smoke-bush and an orange rose-bush, three new herbs (one was a new french tarragon, the two others I don't know the english name of, sitronmelisse and etasjeblomst), and lupin seeds, lily-bulbs horribly out of season and an extremely optimistic hortensia. All these plants needed to be planted, and I could hardly pick up a pen if I lost it on the floor!

This was when I discovered something nice. I have useful children! So Sunday was spent in the garden happily pointing to this and that, directing one efficient and practical, if inexperienced girl, and one tall and gangly and rather distracted, but very happy and enthusiastic boy. After four hours we had found the stairs to the lower part of the garden in between all the weeds, had cleaned enough space that we knew what was supposed to remain and what could happily be uprooted, dug the neccessary holes for the bushes and the plants that were not going into pots on the verandah, emptied out the weeds and dead roses (all four of them died this winter, in the extreme cold) from the pots on the verandah, and cleaned up the porch, the garden, the terrace and the front steps before positioning all the now-filled pots in what we hope is a decorative and welcoming fashion. And we managed to stuff our faces with ice-cream during a short break after the first hot and dirty struggle in the garden.

All the efficient planting is well and good - it went a bit quicker than if I had been alone, but I normally do these things and enjoy them. What amazed me was how nice it is to just do physical things with the kids! They were happy and eager, helped out and came with independent suggestions, all the while chatting about this and that. At times I worry that they won't be able to do anything practical when they grow up, that all they will be good for is play instruments, read books and play computer games - and occasionally heating a frozen pizza if they get told how to turn on the stove. But it's not like that at all. They are strong and healthy and practical, able to apply themselves to a task, to understand instructions quickly and to get things done.

Add sunshine, a light breeze off the fjord to cool us off and chase the flies away, a cat who is too lazy from the heat to attack her favourite target; our bare feet, the sting of nettles still tickling our hands and arms and a slight sunburn, and it was the most amazingly summery and pleasant Sunday in a very, very long time.

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