Sunday, 27 April 2008

What a lovely walk

Tra la la! What a lovely Spring morning!

And with determined smiles we can ignore the drizzle, grey clouds and freezing wind from Siberia. Because hearing the whispered promise of yesterday's sun, today we set off in high hopes, mittens and scarves, to walk out with a local wildlife group. They're taking the annual stroll through an ancient woodland to rubberneck the bluebells.

What could be more home-educational, I ask myself, than to touch and sniff but Not pick I said Don't Pick the lovely Spring flowers sprinkled like hundreds and thousands down the banks of rain-soaked ditches? We could lock the children in a room and stare squint-eyed at fuzzy black and white photographs of bluebells I suppose, then chant anther filament stamen stigma until our lips go numb, but only if we are doing school, and today we're not doing that. We are doing active, purposeful pursuit of all things botanical in the wood. How cool an education is that?

It is magical, this wood, even in the nipping wind, and I half expect to be stumbling over chanting Druids round the back of the car park. Then we turn the corner and wow! A tingling of bluebell tops, so many I catch my breath and rub my eyes. We pause, silent in awe, to absorb this delicate spread of dappled blue, a thin dancing gauze spread by enchantment on the woodland floor. Unless, of course, you are a Tiger, because Tigers in bad moods do not want an education. They want to stare at the feet of strangers and growl. Fortunately, the strangers are as entranced as we by this exquisite sight and either don't hear or can ignore the bad tempered Tiger prowling around their toes. When the group starts to move off again, slowly, oohing and aaahing in the birds and trees and whole woody wonder of it all, Tiger takes to stalking her closest sister, grumbling and muttering dark threats.

I tell myself that even if Tiger complains that she wants to be home, making a clay horse, that it is a valuable educational aid, this walking group, because as we pass unhurried through the wood, apart from a little Tiger pushing and shoving, each of the walkers brings us quiet ancient knowledges. A wrinkly old woman eye-spies purple orchids. A young man indicates deer and badger tracks. The group leader explains how to spot a green woodpecker hole by the delicate decorative coving. We all go Yeuk! and Must be bachelor bats! at a bat hole pointed out to us, with black bat poo seeping down the trunk. Then a pale woman who looks like a wood nymph explains the difference of dog's mercury and ground elder. And as we touch the petals of the wood anemones to see if they are really stars fallen to earth, Tiger asks how long is this walk because she is bored and her feet hurt.

Forty minutes gone of a two hour walk with a whining, argumentative and troublesome Tiger, Mummy Grit is getting a bit fed up too and forbids Tiger to stand, walk, skip, or walk in that funny kicking way anywhere in the vicinity of a Shark. A restraining order is only the start. After another ten minutes I begin to assess the range of bribes, threats and intimidation techniques I might be able to use without the little old lady observing or ear-wigging. If she overhears me threatening to slap Tiger's bum, I am sure the old woman will tut and despise my weak parenting. On the other hand, she may well suggest that Tiger needs a good swift clip around the ear in which case I will feel free to oblige. At this point, Tiger can possibly detect the wind of change in Mummy Grit's demeanor because she accepts the offer to hold a hand through the next muddy patch and beyond.

Look! Can you see the beautiful bluebells? Mummy Grit says to the miniature extra for an M. Night Shalayman film trudging along beside her.

But now it is Grit's turn to become cantankerous and mean spirited, because Tiger starts to hang on my arm, complaining all the while that her feet hurt and asking the same whining question When will this walk ever end? over and over again until I wonder if I could push her in the nettles and make it look like an accident. Since I have already tried to give a reasonable answer to this question and it has not been accepted, I then start to answer Four thousand years, When you are one hundred years old, Never, We are in limbo and walking the earth as spirits destined to walk for all eternity. Until the group leader listens in and I feel chastened and shut up.

Ten minutes to go before the wildlife walking group reemerge at the car park, exhausted and mostly happy nearly two hours later, Grit has had enough and leans down and whispers to her irritating dwarf that if she continues in this vein to the very, very last, just remember that mama has the power to frisk you for breadcrumbs and leave you here, right now, in the forest. Forever. To which the dwarf replies, 'Well that's OK. I have a biscuit'.

And if that were not enough of a note to end on, when we return to the car carrying a Tiger like an ironing board, look what Dig has left hanging from the car door for the last two hours in this security-conscious age.


Suburbia said...

Her photo says it all!!
I just hate it when they go on like that.

Brad said...

Seems her mood fit the weather. Reminds me of Latisha Baldridge's famous quote. "No good deed goes unpunished"

family affairs said...

Thanks for dropping in to my blog and cheering me up tonight....3 home educated kids the same age - are you mad?????? Respect x

Kelly Jene said...

Dang... at least your keys were still there! M. Night Shama.. whatever, would make you there heroine of whatever movie he is doing. I did like the pic.

Hey my latest blog pertains to a subject Brad said you might be able to give some advice towards...mind taking a look?

Grit said...

hi suburbia! there seems to be nothing much which gets them out of a crabby mood either, does there? unlike us mothers of course, who probably never sulk or slam doors and who can turn around our grumpy mood to a happy one in a trice. ;-)

hi brad, there seems to be some days when 'getting out the wrong side of the bed' seems apt.

family affairs, we hear that question often, and the answer is, probably. and i'll be back often to your blog!

hi kelly jene, no problem, tell me when to shut up.

Phoenix said...

LOL at the car.
I have left my house unlocked 3 times. One of those occaions the keys were in the outside lock. The other two times, they were on the inside of the door.

Clearly multiple children addles the brain. In my case, on at least two of the occasions, I had left the house with my two children & two dogs to take the dogs for a walk (the third occasion was either dog walking or nipping to the corner shop - can't remember which). Oh and when I take the dogs for a walk, we are gone 45-60minutes.

Anyway, after the third incident I vowed to never ever attempt to walk the dogs with both children in tow ever again, since I seem unable to do so without inviting any/every passing burgler to help themsef to the contents of my house.