The children who asked me to look after their bikes…

flowers.png

This has never happened before! These children swung into the shop during the afternoon, so suddenly that I didn’t see them until they were directly in front of me and clasping their hands together as a plea, they asked if I might look after their bikes, please and please, while they went to Woolworths to get some things. They were bright with cold and energy and woven together in a tight clump of children and daylight and endless time.

And they had already parked the bikes in a neat row along the window of the shop; they showed me this a little anxiously. And I said that this was all good. And off they went.

A little later a boy came into the shop in a puzzled and worried way and told me that he knew the people who were of those bikes. He stood with his hands in his pockets and looked at the Asterix books for a while and then asked me if those people were actually in the shop and I said no, they were around the corner and up the street and he dashed for the door and out and around the corner and was gone.

Later, I checked the bikes; they had obediently stayed in their courteous row.

An hour later, the children were back, as suddenly as they had left. They thrust a handful of gentle flowers at me, orange and white daisies, they said: here’s for you, for looking after the bikes, and then they were all backing out, banging into each other and into the doorway, calling and calling: thank you very much for looking after… see you another time…see you….

 

 

 

 

 

The children who found something with a metal detector in a caravan park

yeshi-kangrang-296068.jpg

There are two young children here in the caravan park, in the warm summer, on the hot grass and they have a metal detector.

They are purposeful, their backs are bent and their thin arms concentrate on the work. Every patch of patchy ground has potential…. gravel, sand, garden, asphalt, earth, kerb, grass, cement…all are tried and tried.
The detector beeps a small hoot every now and again and they stop and bob about to retrieve the treasure – a bottle top, a slip of metal, a casket of jewels. They scrape sand back reverently but there is usually nothing there. Then they push the sand back into place, gentle caretakers of this unnoticed ground.
But suddenly they have found something, and the detector makes a vast sound.
He says: it’s nothing.
She says: it’s something, look.
And they lean in, knees hopeful and noses together.
He says: it’s metal?
She says: it’s glass. It’s this. It’s this.
She picks it up, a small thing, holds it cupped and close, running eyes over the pleasing magic.
She says: it’s golden glass.
He says: it’s gold glass.
They take it to the tap and rinse the sand away from its golden value and the detector lies in the grass forgotten. The entire day, so deeply entered, is also forgotten.
The tap flashes in the sun, the stream of water flashes in the sun, their blond childhood heads blaze through the water drops, the warm, ticking scrub leaning kindly over them and the sea itself acknowledging the wisdom.

Photography by Yeshi Kangrang

Noah and Max and Christmas

Noah and Max (2).jpeg

Noah and Max are under the Christmas tree.

Max emptied the lower branches days ago and Noah gazes through the empty spokes with interest. He accepts an angel to chew. Both babies can now sit on a firm base with no toppling, they have crushed the nativity under their bottoms, they have pulled down the silver tinsel and it is their first Christmas. There is so much to do.

Wrapped gifts are, as yet, dull. Those smooth surfaces offer no angles or handholds, they contain nothing that can be seen and therefore nothing that they want.
An emerald green bauble that hangs from a branch, however, holds movement. And also light and shine that keeps changing. It has a promising surface that can be tasted. There is often an accompanying spoken warning which is predictable and comfortable.

The wooden Santa that contains another Santa inside it and yet another inside that is delightful. One piece can astonishingly go inside of another piece and come out again.
There is a bottle of good milk lying nearby which nobody wants.
It is possible to pull the loop away from every hanging element so that they can no longer hang at all. Max can jolt a decoration downwards with superb strength, it knocks him backwards and he must rebalance each time. Noah sits close by, supporting the work, a team.
It is hot, there are lists of things to do, there is still a week until Christmas, there is complaining and rushing and not enough carparks.
But Noah and Max are travelling Christmas from a stronger position. Willing to be grazed by new ideas, able to breath in colour, calling for contact and exchange, uninterested in efficiency.

Max is discarding each broken and lovely decoration to one side, he is sighting up the tree, reaching for higher profits, still out of reach. Noah is examining each shape consistently and carefully, tasting the edges, processing the contours, understanding the value.

 

Yesterday was hot.

unnamed

Yesterday was hot. Any visitors there were, fell through the shop door and said: it’s so hot. And the summer came in through the door after them. One man held the door open while he told me about the first fleet. He allowed in the hot air, some blowing sand and all the gum leaves that gather next to the bakery along with his first fleet.

But in the evening after I got home, it became dark and cool. We were at the edge of the heat, the very rim of it and then suddenly the evening tipped into rain that fell for hours. And so the house was hot, the brick pathways were hot, the veranda posts were hot but the rain was cold.

My grandson held up his nose into the superb air, he rearranged his face and blinking eyes to take in the cold rain, he knew he was hot, everything was hot, but now he might be cold. He needed to rearrange his senses, too. He hung on tight to family when outside, consuming the new details of a rainstorm in summer, unsure of the singing downpour, unsure of safety. Also, the birds were screaming their own deafening joy into the still hot and blue evening.

Artwork by Hajin Bae

Digging

20171120_073904 (1)

The most important exertion at the moment is packing, digging and throwing.

Max is in the garden, he has found a rectangular brick planter full of lovely earth. At the moment it is only growing some rogue basil. He grasps the earth and hurls it out. He does it again. It is physical and substantial work, and difficult, it requires coordination and regulation. He does it again and yet again.

He regards the thrown earth on the path, he is breathing hard, he dribbles but does not notice the line of saliva that falls, it represents his intense link with living, with movement, with sensation, with the smell of earth, water, basil, sunlight, gumleaf, and the ticking of the summer sprinkler. The dog lies nearby with the hopeful tennis ball, sometimes the earth scatters over her ears, she shakes her head kindly, keeping watch over the young.

Max pulls on the basil leaves, the air is poked through with basil, he grimaces against the basil, it is lovely.

He regards his warm, starfish hand, it is covered with hot soil, he frowns, dribbles, turns his hand over and back again.

Maisie the kelpie is barking through the fence, Max regards the walkers on the dirt roadway also through the palings, his mouth is open in amazement, he slants his baby head to one side, seeking the sliding voices through the hot fence.

It is a warm, gum tree evening, the birds are frantic with this evening, Max stands, covered in this evening, in warm earth, he is regarding the sky, the trees, the galahs, the basil, the breathing of the garden. He cannot close his mouth and does not swallow, this would take up valuable time.

Then there is a voice he knows; his mother, calling for bedtime, he drops to the pathway, preparing to crawl, there are basil leaves clinging to his thighs, he arrows for the door, still looking backwards at the outraged galahs, crawling toward the mothership and clinging with ecstasy to his warm, baby life.

 

 

 

The New Things

20170828_113129.jpg20170922_143052-1

There have been some new developments.

Noah has experienced a tennis ball rolling over his chest and onto the ground.

This caused him untold mirth. There was movement and shape and sensation and hilarity and all at once. So why does a baby laugh at this or that? It is a true mystery and now there is a new glowing segment of Noah that is a mixture of dad and laughing and mum and that day on the lawn with the tennis ball.  And it caused him to not be able to NOT laugh. The expanding Noah…

Max has discovered two things. The first was the magnificent sound a zipper can make when tapped on a wooden floor. The zipper is attached to his pyjamas, under the left foot. He can hold onto a chair and tap the left foot, standing straight and superb, tapping and tapping.

The second was the fabulous noise a chair leg can make when moved back and forth across a wooden floor. This new information caused Max to clench his mind in delight, to repeat and repeat the new experiment, to scan the watching faces for recognition of his miracle.

 

 

Noah and Linden

Screenshot_2017-08-13-19-34-02-1

Noah’s hand is so small that it can only just hang onto his Pa’s thumb. But he holds onto it, not even knowing that he does. His Pa is 193cm tall and Noah is 65cm tall. Noah’s Pa towers over him, a monument of strength and gentleness. Noah is protected on all sixty sides. Who knows what his life might be. Maybe he also will grow tall and true – if all goes well. If all does not go well, he will probably grow tall and true anyway. He has, after all, stories, music and parents that gaze at him for hours on end. And outside, he has a small vegetable garden, windy days and opportunities to look all around while sitting on an ordinary lawn.

 

How Noah and Max Rule This Kingdom

18555065_1660264357347504_824710947_n

Noah and Max are the small Kings here. We bow down to their every need; we discuss their progress, imagine their development and predict their future. All they want is milk.

We buy them shoes that fit, but fifteen minutes later they no longer fit. We talk about equipment and nutrition and swimming classes. Noah and Max exchange glances of agreed contempt. Where is the milk?

They are busy with work; their bodies are roaring with growth, their brains are ticking,  drinking in faces along with the milk. Their ears must be full of noise and colour and heartbeats, we always place Noah across our heart. Max likes to hold his head against another head, he pushes his small ear against a chin, feeling the words softly drumming on and on…

Max examines his own foot, confounded. Noah’s dark eyes flicker as his ears draw in one sound after another.

We talk about sleep, and about parenting and about bananas.

Max now might go to the toilet and Noah –  he is slipping back into sleep. There is just time for them to glance again at each other, amused.