Lemons

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The neighbour’s kids up our road have made a street stall, a real market stall and they have invited us to come across to examine the goods, perhaps even make a purchase. It is a hot day, the street is silent except for the usual galahs, peering down across the stall, nosy and rude, black eyes on the lip balms (only one dollar each) in a criticising parroty kind of way.
They have arranged and re arranged the tables, written out prices and labels, created a display, argued over stock, placed a till, made a cash float, agreed on bargains. We buy a lemon, $1 each or 3 for $10. When we have made the purchase, we are handed a Free Lemon and so the exchange is a win for everyone. Later we return to purchase two red matchbox cars and a stone that has been painted (with nail polish) with mysterious symbols and could possibly be of extreme value.
Then we all go slowly home, leaving them to the afternoon rush, to continue adding goods and commodities, to discuss supply, demand and marketing strategies. The day continues warm, the sunlight drops kindly over the enterprise, the air is full of golden summer dust and brilliant, joyful ideas.

Jane and Sally teach Max to build with blocks using impressive strategies

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Sally and Jane came over to play. They tip out the basket of wooden blocks, made by a devoted great great uncle who cut and sanded each one by hand. They are silky and woody and click side by side in a pleasing way. Sally and Jane are emperors of the creative. They kneel and get to work, frowning, concentrated and direct. Max stands back, awed by the energy, drawn in, breathing hard, unable to join in with this much information confounding his eyes.
He wants to build, but so far in his toddler life, he has only participated in knocking things down, a powerful and passionate game that fills his mind and hands with cloudy and lovely detail.

But Sally and Jane have progressed beyond deconstructing to creating. Sally is making a wall and Jane, a robot. They talk to me at the same time. They tell me the local street gossip ( once when Jane  fell from her bike, this other person just went past and did not help) and all the things happening at school. There is a boy who teases Jane and she must tell him that she does not like this. The sisters exchange significant looks. Apparently, the boy does not listen very well. To be in grade three and grade one is exhausting, there are always complex difficulties. Max sits on his heels and gazes at the faces of these little girls, he watches their eyes and their words and their lives.
He wants to knock down the wooden blocks.
Jane can see his baby desire coming true but she outranks it with a better idea. She offers him a treasure, a block from her stack, for him, to build. She says: here you go Maxy. Build it up, build it up.
Sally says, without looking up: give him more than that!
Jane says: don’t you worry about me Sally!
Sally says: well I know that my bike has a sore tyre.
Jane says: here you go, Maxy
And then Max is building. Building by himself, mouth open, breathing in the strength, dribbling ideas, stacking three bricks by himself, staring at this balance, at this outrage, at his new and accumulating evening.

 

 

 

 

 

Sally and Jane live next door

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Sally and Jane live next door and we call them the Fairy Canaries and they are always interesting, always unfailingly kind and always say really good things.

Sally says its good that they don’t live too far away from us.

We think so too.

This afternoon when I arrived home from the shop, Max has just spilled off his little bike into the grape vines and is fairly unhappy.

Sally and Jane can hear him from over the fence.

After school each night Sally and Jane have a rainbow life in their garden, front and back, and also out on the road with all their friends, racing thought the warm sunlight, inventing games and multiplying their ideas, their health and their life every hour.

When they hear Max, they ask after his health. They say: is Maxy ok? Is he all right? Kerry, can we see him?

I hold Max up and he stares over the fence in amazement at Sally and Jane being right there and he is covered in tomato sauce, biscuit crumbs, vine leaves and tears.

Sally said that when she was a bobbler she also had a fall from her bike and she showed me with her foot the exact place that she fell, which is where she is standing right now. She measures out a line and explains how she crashed right there. Then she examined the line and rubbed it out. She redrew it carefully about five cm to the left and said: no, actually it was there.

They told me that they are practicing for sports day.

They said that Max needs a bath.

They said oh well, never mind, Maxy, these things happen and then will you be ok again.

Then they went away and the afternoon continued on, moving through the dazzling warm light and the dust and the children playing and Max not wanting to go inside for a bath.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Emma came over.

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Emma came to visit the other night and brought with her the Fairy Canaries. Their names are Jane and Sally and they are 7 and 5 years old. Tonight they walked all the way to our house which is next door. It is baby night and we have two babies here: Noah and Max and the Fairy Canaries came over to examine them both and see that everything is ok.

They are kind and particular and pay attention to details. They consider every question closely and answer with dignity. I asked Sally how she knew that Max would be a boy and that his name would be Max and she told me that it is because she is magic.

They communicate with joyful rare phrases. When it was my birthday, they did not say happy birthday. Sally said: many happy returns. And when Max was born they told me that they were so proud of the mother.

Once Jane saw me at the fence and invited me to come over and see their shed because their shed is pretty good.

In the summer, I often hear them outside,  shrilling to each other over games with the hose or some sticks or with nothing at all. The games are always complicated and important. Once, in winter when I was in the orchard I saw them through the fence and they called to me significantly that their dog, Tucker, is in love with our dog Maysie and that it was possible that they might get married.

This afternoon Sally picked some little tomatoes for us and handed them through the fence. She picked each cherry tomato slowly, looked a each one,  frowning through her glasses for defects and then dusted the tomato and twisted off the stalk. It took nearly an hour to find twelve cherry tomatoes, as valuable as gold or lollies.

On this evening,  the baby evening, late autumn and with the fire lit and cosy inside, I am giving a bottle to Noah. Jane is standing close by and examining his every feature. She tells me that he is like a beautiful cute little baby troll.

She adds that me must always keep checking him, and all babies, that they only ever have five toes. Because this is all they are allowed to have. The adults are all busy talking and talking so she returns to Sally and the ipad game to offer advice on Subway Surfers but Sally says no no no no no no no no no no no.

Then Jane returns to me and suggests that when I have finished milking Noah, she will have a hold.