Monday, 23 April 2012

halfway home

We took the tribe back to the city for a few days last week. Three busy days catching up with family and friends. It is hard to slow down when there are so many people we want to see, but I think we managed to get the balance right this time. One of the best things about staying with my family, who have lived in the same house for nearly 40 years, is being able to share the special things I remember from my own childhood with my boys. So we walked to the river to splash by the sandbar and eat ice cream on the jetty, and caught the bus into the city to take the boys to the museum.

We stopped for a few days camping by the coast when we were halfway home, taking the slow route around the south-west capes rather than heading straight back down the highway. It is a special place for us - one of the halfway points where Grant and I used to meet when I was back working in the city and he was still teaching in the country. We would take it in turns driving up and down the highway; one weekend in the city; one in his little country town; and the third camping somewhere in between.

It was the first time we had been back since Darcy was a baby and I found myself gazing somewhat wistfully at the childless couples tucked away in their bush campsites drinking tea and reading quietly for entire afternoons. This time we realised we needed to pitch the tent where there was room for the boys to run without being caught on one of the wire fences that had gone up around the coastal reserve. So instead of quietly reading and drinking tea I found myself kicking a football around the meadow and watching in amusement as Grant spent the day trying to retrieve the footy from the upper branches of a giant old peppermint tree (his kick, not mine). The pieces of firewood and half bricks he hurled up at it in frustration eventually had the desired effect and it tumbled back down to earth, but not before Quinn threw his own hunk of wood in the air in imitation and gave himself a minor head injury.

We walked down the track to where the cliffs tumble down to the Indian Ocean and drove south through the forest to Cape Leeuwin, where the Southern and Indian Oceans meet. I wanted to show the boys the way the waves crash into each other as the two bodies of water collide, but another fence had gone up in our absence and we were now being asked to pay an exorbitant amount for a glimpse. So we walked around the rocks instead before waving goodbye to the Indian Ocean and heading home.

Darcy says that he wants to move back to the city so that he can catch the bus everyday, but I noticed a change in us all once we were back in the trees, away from the traffic and congestion of the city streets. We are not city people, any of us. Quinn least of all. He was only five months old when we moved and remembers no other life than the one we have made in the forest. The look on his face as we stepped off the bus beneath the city skyscrapers was beautiful to watch. But watching him tear after his brothers into the depths of the garden for the afternoon once we got home was better still. 

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful words.

    There's something different about country kids I think. I love the photo of your little ones looking out over the sea. Their stillness captures what is so good about living away from all the hustle and bustle.


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