Monday, October 26, 2009

From squeals to meals

The Woolf family just spent our weekend at Mahurangi East. It was a perfect weekend, except for a bit of rain on Monday. Still, Hubby managed to take the 3 Woolf girls and Uncle WaterMelon for spin in the StabiCraft. The waters were kind to us, supplying the fishermen (Hubby and Father In Law) an abundance of fresh snapper.

What really struck me about the Woolf girls this time is how they have grown and how well they seem to be able to occupy themselves. It wasn't so long ago that they have high tendencies to stomp through the bach, making elephants sound gentle.

This Labour Weekend, the stomping seems to have all but dissapeared. The squels and screams haven't stopped but they should be getting less and less, I hope. I also hope they will never turn into sultry teenage girls with no worries outside their own and nothing to say except for the occassional monosyllabic answers teenagers give. I hope they will be charming, loveable and happy girls, chatty and inspiring well into their teenage years.

Making lunch
This Labour Weekend, the Princess, Cousin 1 and Cousin 2 undertook a massive expedition -- they cooked us Labour Day lunch. It was impressive considering they had not much ingredients to work with. They served us tuna pasta (the touch of lime was sheer brilliance!), roasted herb potatoes and for dessert, Summer Splash (chopped pineapple and apples with juic -- perfect). They topped our meal with coffee/tea and put on a splash of spring flowers on the table. During meal times, they were eager and willing to help chop and stir fry. What a change...over a year!

Family meals are crucial. It is around these meal times we get to show our best, and our worst; to define what we stand for, and learn that acceptance of what we are not, or what others are not, can be as meditative an experience as going to listen to a sermon or hear a guru teach. It is around these meals that you get a sense of how hurriedly or slowly a person takes his/her time to take a bite, and sense the rush of taste. It is around these meals that the unspoken speaks more than the words.

I now can hope Princess will cook (when she wants to). The Woolf girls exceeded their appetite for springrolls. They fried mini spring rolls for lunch until they cleaned off Grandma's entire box of spring rolls. They must learn how to reuse used oil, and put away empty food boxes.

I love seeing how the Woolf girls gel, as a pack. It is a mistake to bring a fourth number into this triad. They are at their element when they are three. The bond is strong and enviable as it should be. I feel so lucky for Princess to have such cousins, as I have my own dear cousins in Malaysia.

I remember my own childhood, of weeks spent hiding in the lush guava trees, in my maternal grandfather's backyard. Sometimes, the guavas hang so full on the branches, they are dying for you to pick them but I used to prefer picking the green ones, for use as missiles for "shoot" at my cousins. I remember holidays stomping through muddy red earth at my aunty's house in Kapar Road, fighting with the boys to be treated as an equal, and waiting for mangoesteens that never seem to ripen. I remember the cabin crackers that taste like heaven dipped in black coffee, and how afternoon tea can turn into a brief paradise.

Secret island
Over this weekend, I came to see how boring I had become. The girls dragged me to their "secret island" where they plan to swim in the summer. I had to put sandshoes on, and walked through water and slimmy stones and algae-clothed stones. The water was mostly warm and quite delightful. It took about 20 minutes for us to get around the bay from the beginning of the road...I have been sworn to secrecy, I cannot tell anyone where the place is. Access to their paradise is by invitation only (or whoever is unlucky enough to be dragged out comfy sofas for a walk in the sun.)
At one point, we met an over excited dog...I wasn't quite sure what I would do if he/she started to chase -- lucky for us, we were in knee-high water, and the dog was water shy.

Over the weekend, I comfirmed my status as a hopeless romantic, staying up will 1am to watch and rewatch Jane Austen's Emma, Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey. I have the same misdeeds, reading and rereading Orson Scott Card's Ender Series, or Tenzin Palmo's Cave in the Snow. What about all the other books I have to read?

The girls watched and rewatched Wild Child (the DVD). I love this part of being a child -- that of doing something repetitive, which can somehow magically provide an endless stream of joy and wonder.

Watching the three girls brave the cold pool, and squealing and splashing, I am reminded this is what childhood is about. Is is also a reminder for us adults that the older we get, the less prone we are to see the magic in everyday life.

We all know now the Woolf girls know how to put on a mean lunch. Also that Aunty Unu can really become a fanatic at housework and does a mean crossword puzzle; and oh, there is hope for the Woolf men in the fishing department, coming home with their first major catch, and that Uncle Watermelon really is a weed murderer par excellence, disguised as a horticulture scientist.