Memories are the only truly immortal things we have, the good ones are as warm as sepia sunbeams that cast golden dappled light over us as we reminisce. Some of the most golden memories of my childhood are those where the extended family gathered together. Grandparents, great grandparents, cousins, second cousins, aunts, great aunts and uncles - I can still hear the symphonic cacophony of bantering adult voices and the bubbling squeals of excitement from our own small band of mischief makers. There was a vibe that came from many of us being together re-affirming bonds and entertaining one another, a heightened energy like you feel at a festival of thousands.
There were the mini-breaks my brother, sister and I would take - staying away from home with grandparents or sometimes with our aunt and cousins in London during the school holidays whilst mum and dad took a chance to breathe. I loved those breaks, each with their trademark activities, visits and traditions that built up over the years. We felt loved and happy.
Knowingly, I sometimes mourn the fact that my children will not know identical experiences. Things are different what with there being a distinct shortage of grandparents able to offer such retreats - Cliff's mum died shortly after we had Gaia, he never knew his father, my dad has an acquired brain injury and my mum has her own struggles. The numerous rifts that have occurred in the generations that preceded us has left the extended family we knew fragmented and silent to one another, so I know some things will not be possible for this generation of small people. But all is never lost.
As the children and I spent time with my sister and her boys this weekend in her delicious country cottage we talked about our family and the importance of gatherings - big and small, arranged and impromptu. We talked about the importance of sibling friendship and familial solidarity. And having both danced under the same rainbows as small girls we now incubate homogeneous visions for our own families and our extended family as one.
Now we are the matriarchs, we are the ones to organise and host many family gatherings,. We pull in the stray wisps that get loose in the breezes and as we romp on through life we need to keep this pendulum swinging, gather more momentum, more wisps in - more of the time even when it feels like there is no time.
Our children might not remember staying away with Grandparents in the summer holidays whilst we catch our breath but I realise that really isn't the be all and end all. They will remember different things - like seeing their aunt and cousins regularly for lazy lunches and afternoons now Mama got wheels.
They will remember going for lunch quietly (?) with great-grandad and inviting themselves to lunch with Grandma when it takes their fancy to stay longer than anticipated. They will remember sleepovers and picnics and they will remember going on holiday with their aunts, uncles, cousins and grandma as for the first time this year we join a tradition that has been nurtured the last few without us. There really is so much we can give them that will be just as special so I should really stop the mourning and get on with the living, being, breathing life into these visions and dreams. What we do now counts if we want them to remember dancing under rainbows and in and out of sunbeams. And of course, these memories we're so hung up on creating for our small ones ... are new sunbeams for us as well, we play different parts (if all the world's a stage) see from different perspectives than before and that is good. We get the satisfaction of seeing our plans come together, giving each other a pat on the back and doing little happy dances when we see we nailed it.
And there are the myriad everyday heart warmers - sacred to me and who knows ... maybe they will remember them too one day...
more and more big brother is helping his little sister out ...
dappled light ... first fire of the year
Springs warm breathe sweeping back bonfire smoked hair. The smokiness lingers long enough that later I bury my face in and drink deeply that distinctive scent, as I did when they were newborns and smelled of angels.
Delicious ... those eyes I mean
When out running. Quintessentially Cambridge.
Ask the girl what she wants for lunch and what she wants she will have; homemade pizza two days running.
This one wild and precious life is all that we have, is everything that we have ... may there always be ordinary magic and special occasions, sepia sunbeams and rainbows to remember.
That is all.