This last week we stole away from Sydney with some friends, and their two little ones. We went to play at the snow and stay at a farm at the base of the Snowy Mountains. But let’s start with the end.
Peeling ourselves away from the snow and farm, we headed towards to Canberra, to visit the Carillon where I had memories of gathering pine cones as a child. Leaving behind the bare paddocks and distant snow topped peaks, the sights gave way to those of my yesteryears: wintery shells of poplars, bright wattle and dense pine forests. They took me directly to my childhood of horses and bicycles and climbing trees and endless endless freedom.
When we arrived, it was cold and beautiful, but there were no pine cones. Did I imagine it? Have I just stuck a few different memories together? It had me throwing doubt around the fullness of my memories. Sunlit, foggy, luscious adventures of camping, riding horses like breathing and holidays away at my grandparents farm. What was it like? It was those things, but what else? And so I wonder what the boys will remember from this last week. Now on the other side and parenting little ones through this, I wonder how much over the years my mind has edited those times. We absolutely came away from last week with some bright, rich moments, but there was also mess and nervousness and a psychotic pony and I wonder where that will all fit.
We spent the first couple of days away at Perisher. No doubt a healthy diet of Peppa Pig and Guess How Much I Love You had set the little ones up for a surprise when it came to being at the actual real life freeze your nose off snow.
I know what snow is. It’s like white sand.
No, it’s like tiny eeny weeny bits of ice all stuck together.
The days we took the boys to the snow were less than ideal weather-wise. Less than less than. Thin snow and a dull day to begin with, and the next day giving us angry snowy snow, with gushing wind and grey skies. And you never know with little ones… things can go either way. You can end up with goey puddles of emotional upset, or looks of is this all there is? Or quiet wonder or uncontrollable enthusiasm, or something else entirely. And between the five kids, we definitely had a spectrum, but mostly mostly it was more than we could have hoped for. At least on that first day.
Flynn thought it was wonderful, and armed with a thick cocoon would throw himself into the snow. Wyatt was happy to to be led along and slide down the ice. But Harry… Harry took to those slopes like they were his, pulling his toboggan higher and higher, racing down swiftly, too many times to count. He owned that first day.
Snowball fights ending in tears (I suppose that happens when you throw an iceberg instead of a snowball), snowmen only half built, one lost child (can’t go there yet) and one fall in the creek gave colour and low to the highs. But it was snow!
Back on the farm, out in the open, we were more of who we are, and I was reminded of where we are headed in our lives. Our time there was made up of a tumbled mess of small simple moments: collecting firewood, building fires, breaking ice, not catching yabbies, a bonfire, drinking sweet rainwater, cattle, calves, a newborn lamb, an enthusiastic goat, a scavenger hunt, a splayed open and half eaten wombat, crunching frost underfoot, baking bread each day, wine, coffee, friends, smoke alarms and much much more.
It was all of these things and none of these things and kids I love you by letting you experience the good with the bad with the frustrating with the sweetness, and letting you pluck the things out that matter to you.
But this trip, for me, was most specially coloured by long, long conversations and sympathy and empathy and glühwein with my friend. I loved that we shared this time away. I loved that we had partners in the brightness and dullness and madness.
Because friendship matters. Because people are important and we can say I love you in so many ways, so say it in any which way you can.