Friday, 9 January 2009
I am trying hard to avoid my standard return from beach post. Somehow the advent of a whole new year only serves to intensify my usual renewed perspective after time near the ocean. Reading Breath contributed too, but more on that in a minute.
The being away, the time with family, the relaxation, the escape from all manner of stuff and the simplicity of the breakfast beach nap play beach dinner routine all adds up to a very different take on life.
I'll spare you the ruminations, but you know, it is a big deal and a ritual deeply embedded in my psyche. The day I get to live by the ocean will be a very happy day indeed.
On the action front, we goccoed our little hearts out in between time on the sand. I beavered away on new socks and finally, oh finally, started the Hey Teach! and I made major progress in drafting myself a full set of pattern blocks. We went to nearby towns in rainy weather and bought a round of fake crocs for the family (except D who can't abide them) and I cooked my first ever leg of lamb, which at 40 makes me almost unoztrailyun (it was delish nonetheless). There were evening walks and skipping stones in the twilight.
We went, as we usually do, to the extremely low rent summer carnival where Amy rode the dodgems and popped ping pong balls in a wheezing minnie mouse's gob. Wil sat in a car that went around in slow, sad circles and he was so excited I felt like we'd just given him his first shot of heroin. A thought completed when we tried to remove him and witnessed what I am sure ambos see all the time when they administer narcane. He has already far exceeded the best Amy has managed over the years in the way of tantrums and I can't find words to do justice to the total loss of control and bodily function experienced by the poor little nip. Really, I was left stunned and more sympathetic than angry.
We caught up with friends, the usual suspects and a couple of complete surprises. In fact, for a moment there it was 1985 all over again. Except with more wrinkles and small people. Condensing 20 years into 30 minutes whilst chasing kids and dealing with bored partners and trying not to get sunburned.
And aside from commencing his career as an emotional basket case, Wil also hit a few other significant markers. He's gone from cot to bed, started using a proper cup, is wearing his first pair of elastic sided workboots and started to use language (as opposed to a few odd nouns here and there). He now tells me when he's cared (scared), done a bart (fart), going nigh night (to bed) or wants to go to the beash (beach), or wants to know where someone has gone - where papa? where margie? Basically, in a mere few weeks he seems to have morphed into a kid.
Amy is practicing for her teen years. Enough said on that.
And I read two whole books. I almost felt like a regular person! I greatly enjoyed both Breath and The Slap (review here). I have to agree with the reviewers that Breath was disappointingly short. I felt that there was a whole other set of stories only told in precis form after the main flash back and I would very much have liked to read them. But in every other respect the book was excellent. Winton is indeed a master writer, his command of language is supreme, and it is a testament to his skill that I could find a book in which there was absolutely nothing to hang my own direct experience off so utterly absorbing. And I was glad to be reading it by the ocean, where the exquisite detail to the surf was so much more present.
And I loved The Slap too, but in a very different way. So very much to hang my own experience off. So many dilemmas and issues so close to where I live, in every sense. And so very nice to read a book in which the landmarks of my town are so much a part of the landscape. I liked its length and structure, the story and characters where excellently drawn and played out. It couldn't have been a greater contrast to Breath, so they made an excellent pair.
There are more summer photos over here if you care to examine the minutae of my life.