Family holiday, part four

‘You know we have to run up the stairs too,’ I say.

‘Aww.’

The younger of my two brothers and I have been running barefoot across the grass and the car park near the beach. It has started raining, and the weather patterns from the last few days suggest this light rain, after a stinging hot morning, will soon get much heavier. The rule about also running up the stairs is not related to the likely weather outcome though; I’ve just made it up arbitrarily, the way children often make up rules for games they’re playing.

We’ve just come from the playground at the other of the beach. We had to wade through ankle-deep water to access much of the equipment (hence the bare feet). We stood together on the platform atop four large springs, our weight on either side of the bar spinning it around. We squealed. We were disappointed to discover on the monkey bars that our adult-sized bodies were harder to lift than either of us ever remembered our child-sized bodies being, our upper body strength, perhaps, not having kept up with the increase in size and weight. We climbed over the top of them instead. The slippery slide seemed shorter than when we were children, and the woodchips covering the ground sharper.

Ostensibly, we left the playground to beat the weather home, but it’s probably no coincidence that we made our decision shortly after a small child and his parents arrived.

At the bottom of the stairs we pause briefly. Look at each other. I can hardly believe this man is my little brother; that when he looks at his sister he sees a woman. We run up the stairs together, and across the road, the cement and asphalt roughing up the soles of our feet.

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Adventure

Looking back over the last few posts here, I’ve realised that I seem to spend an awful lot of time writing here about not doing things. Or at least about needing to do nothing because I manage to keep myself busy and occasionally need a rest. But I rarely write about the things that I actually am doing.

So I thought today I would write about something that I’ve actually done. Today I went adventuring with a friend — a kind of research project for both of us. We caught the bus from Newtown to Coogee with no real plans, except to look around and maybe find somewhere we could eat pancakes. We wandered along the beach, in the rain, and took pictures of sand, boats, trees. We found a cafe in which to eat pancakes (yum!), and we wandered around a local green grocer without shopping baskets, trying to resist the temptation to buy any food. We walked up hills into the residential streets, gazing at all the interesting houses and interesting gardens.

We talked a lot, and I got damp toes. And we took pictures. Here are some of mine.

Sodden feet

Last night I ventured out just as it started to pour with rain. I quite like rain. And I’m rarely without an umbrella.

My umbrellas are always bright and cheerful. I’ve had yellow, green, blue. My current umbrella is pink with polka dots. This choice of gaudy umbrellas is completely deliberate.

There’s a picture of me as a small child standing at the bottom of the front steps of our house in Goulburn, peering out from under an umbrella. The expression on my face is one of happy fascination.

On a good day, that’s still how I feel about rain. Choosing a brightly coloured umbrella is my way of reminding myself that it’s possible to forget about the inconvenience of rain, to forget to worry about whether I’m getting wet. It reminds me that I’ve inherited my Dad’s fascination with weather, and brings out that part of me that wants to jump in the puddles rather than carefully step around them.

Because let’s face it: I’m probably going to end up with sodden feet anyway.

Thinking about the toes of my boots, which are still damp from last night’s rain adventure (no puddle-jumping, but I did give up on trying to avoid the puddles), I remembered that I once posted a little piece here about rain and umbrellas and ruined shoes.

‘Nevermind,’ she said quietly to herself as her suede shoes were rapidly ruined by the rain. At least they had character now.

She stood under her broken umbrella on the unfamiliar street corner and marvelled at the genius of the contraption she held above her head.

Somehow the rain never made her sad anymore. It reminded her of a place she missed dearly but was also glad to be away from. It reminded her of him, of that street, of that house and of the wet-cold winters. And it always brought a smile to her face, even if her shoes had become its victim.

Finding this piece immediately reminded me of all the other times I’ve been stuck in the rain — sometimes with an umbrella, sometimes without — and how each of those moments still sits in my mind, linked in no other way except by the phenomenon of water falling from the sky. It also reminded me of just how many pairs of shoes I’ve lost, standing out in the rain, and how it’s not that ruination that I remember first, but the freedom that comes from realising each time that I can’t do anything about it.