Jumping on ice
Jumping on the thin ice with the children. The sound of the crack, watching it grow across the crisp of the puddle, then jumping again.
The snow has almost but all gone, but in places, on tops of hills and sides of slopes it clings still. The top of the snow is all icy, as boot meets its surface there is a satisfying crunch through the top layer. A pocket of air exists between the lay of the snow and the top of the grass, for mice and vowel to scurry.
Bleakness pervades the landscape around the reservoir. A few sheep, no birds. A large regimental stone wall holding it all in and falling at a forty five degree angle away from the top path. Giant sized stone steps lead away from the corner of the reservoir to take away excess water. A stone pier with a decorative turret reaches out into its depths. Patrick makes up scary stories about ogres being imprisoned within the turret.
I eat a banana and decide against throwing its skin on the ground. Banana skins take forever to deteriorate. I stuff it in my pocket instead.
One of the children chases the two lone sheep, fun but cruel, he is duly reprimanded.
Naoise is being stubborn and is standing two hundred yards away awaiting a parent to collect him. Patrick eventually concedes to collect the cold looking child. It was this behaviour that caused an argument last Sunday. I think that he genuinely gets tired and must feel the sharp of the cold as he is so slender and tiny. Naoise has beautiful fine bones, he is an elfen child. Robust and strong but light as the wind. Wiry. Wiry like his sheep farming grandfather from Tyrone.
Patrick shows me a film that he made. A long shot of him walking to collect Naoise. So simple. Love is in the fetching, of the turning around and going back. Of excepting the stubbornness and the carrying.
Patrick told me that the dear child was crying I was cold, I was cold, when he reached him. I am envious of the film he has made, but he agrees that I can post it here as long as it is acknowledged as his.
It is always so cold on the tops.
The route back through the ancient woods follows a steep path with hazardous drops to one side. The sort of steepness that makes you feel a little queasy if you look down. Trees hug and cling to the sides, grass grows and in the summer bracken. The children run, they are as agile as mountain goats. There are mine shafts blocked up by holed metal to peer into. Behind one shaft you can seed that a canary yellow safety hat and jacket have been left.
Trees have been blown down, root systems with large clumps of soil hug the sky and trunks are perpendicular with the downwards of the steep slopes.
The sky is so so blue. The blue of a spring on its way. All of us stop on the bench and sit in the sun, feeling the heat on our skin. It is blue and it is warm. The sun, the sun. I feel so happy at this moment.
One of the boys sits, and collects clumps of the long dead grass. He wraps the grass around and around on itself. He looks to be creating some sort of figure from the clump. He is totally absorbed in the process. The sun shines down. He gives the art to me. I hold the woven clump in my hand. I promise to take it to my studio and keep it there.
In the morning Naoise helped me make an apple crumble. He had been requesting one all week long. This crumble will be our contribution to the Sunday meal that my kind friend is treating us too. Its just so lovely to be cooked for, cooking for a family gets so boring, it can feel like just another chore.
Naoise tries to slice the apples with a blunt kitchen knife, I entrust him with the sharp cooking knife. He is slightly suspicious about me allowing him this responsibility. He wonders what daddy will think. Daddy will think that it is dangerous. I reassure him that its really ok, that its safer to use a sharp knife than a blunt knife and that he is very good with tools, that I think he will be fine. Naoise cuts each piece of apple with care and precision.
He wears the owl cooking apron that I once wore at the same age as him. On the front an owl with open eyes, on the back the same owl except he is winking.
The oven buzzer sounds beep beep beep beep …..beep beep beep beep