OK, let’s go, have you got your: sun cap, sun-screen, water-bottle / fleece, gloves, hat, woolly socks, waterproof trousers, thick socks / thin socks – will you be warm enough? Have you had your vitamin, been for a wee (only ever ask before trousers and shoes are on…!). Oh dear, what have I forgotten?
A morning school-run vocab. of Nordics parents. Never-ending barely sun-setting days during months when the greatest darkness is in road-tunnels, long Winters of shy light, endlessly big blue skies over flat horizons; seasons’ march a slow-turning annually-set dimmer-light. Light or dark, hot or cold, routine’s a constant full of surprises.
Bicycle, scooter or simply walking? Either way, it’s out of the house turn left, to the top of the road and into the woods. Adventure begins. Though rushing from bed, through breakfast, teeth and hair, we take the long route to nursery school. Not tidy pavement with our goal in sight but the three times longer dog-leg; why? For that old cliché that it’s in the journey, not the getting there. Silly! OK, fine, but can we still be on time?
Sloping gently down at first over ditch, turning right towards the rising sun, up high already shining brightly down or hesitant low-waking through denuded trees quivering in mist. Either side our gentle path winds a canyon’s way through light greens, abundance of short light Summers or cut-back, more open now awaiting Winter’s white covers. Was that a deer or a hare, what are those prints across the way? Listen to that bird, it’s new!
Pedalling determined or swooshing in bouncing trainers, my daughter stops straight in her tracks. What is it I did not see that’s grasped her wondrously? “Look Daddy, there’s a…” / “Really, where?” / “There it is, oh can’t you see it!?”. Every time, somewhere, there’s awe, wonder, excitement, something new, unusual too to stop and stare (and always with great care).
A big fat fleshy earthworm stretching endlessly unaware of cycling tyres, a family of ladybirds moving-in, a butterfly fanning its new-found silky beauty while admiring fresh-sprung dew.
Now, who are you? Rusher, observer, need-to-get-further or captured, enraptured by all a five-year-old can behold wise to the world? Slightly worried but grateful as I’d have cycled past and doubtless missed the plot in this wondrous spot. So, what’s the story; how did it start, where is it now, will it continue when I go…? Repeated daily through the seasons, engrained by habit, endless connections made; with her teeny tiny hands, Alice is in wonderland.
Thomas Jelley (Helsinki, Finland)