This afternoon the three kids and I walked down to our little beach. Michael had just returned from America and needed to crash for a while, and I was feeling quite chirpy and proud of myself for surviving my first six days alone with them. Antonia wore her new pink gumboots and carried a bucket and spade, Julius fussed a little in the carrier, and Felix loped along beside us, singing a song that was mostly harmless but occasionally a little cheeky towards Antonia. Nevertheless, high spirits prevailed. It’s autumn. We looked at the mushrooms. They are innumerable. Brown, white, orange, red; tiny, shiny, crumbling, smooth, wrinkled, huge. That’s the kind that fairies hide under, Felix said. Antonia slipped now and then on the wet rocks.
At the beach Felix hurled stones into the water. Antonia, however, immediately stripped off in order to have a swim. It was much too cold for the rest of us, but she paddled about bravely, pleased as punch. Felix wrote his name in the sand. Everything was grey. The sky, the water, the forest beyond. And then, very gently, it started to rain. The little drops circled out in the water, all over the water, as far as I could see, and it was the prettiest thing. Felix threw sticks out into the water and Antonia paddled out to fetch them. Then the rain grew heavier and I decided we should go back. Antonia’s clothes had gotten wet and they were difficult to put on again – Julius cried in protest as I bent over to help her. For the first part of the climb back through the forest A and J were both in tears, but we persisted. I promised Antonia a warm bath and Felix a hot chocolate when we got home. As we reached the top of the forest path, Antonia said proudly – we did it! And we did, oh yes we did.