Monday, July 23, 2012

Daddy - the sky is blue!

Did everyone enjoy the summer then?

The sun, whose extended visit on Saturday only served to remind us of what we’ve been missing these long wet months, immediately prompted barbecues and shorts to be dusted off across our region. Desperate to get out into the vegetable garden, I couldn’t find any sandals beneath the pile of muddy wellingtons, so I wore socks and trainers with my bright green shorts.

Jo was horrified. She wouldn’t let me even take the rubbish out in case the neighbours saw – she said I looked like a German tourist. Izzy had greeted the day by shrieking with excitement: “Daddy, the sky is blue”. She dragged me into the garden for a closer look.

“Why is the sky blue?” she asked, as together we tried to dig 11 months of buttercup roots and couch grass out of her sodden sandpit.

I paused. What a perfect opportunity to introduce my 3-year-old to the science of meteorology. “The jet stream comes all the way from America”, I began, but she immediately interrupted my flow with “Nana is in America – is she coming too?”

I know I really should have said: “The sky is blue because the molecules in the atmosphere scatter blue light more than they scatter the other colours from the sun”, but she would have cut me off with, “Silly Daddy – the sun is yellow.” So instead, I told her the truth.

“Well, when God was painting the world, he picked up the blue crayon from the box when he got to the sky, because he thought it was such a pretty colour, like your eyes.” She seemed to accept this without question. Then a few seconds later she added, “Daddy, if I was God, I’d have purple crayon for the sky.” It must be weird to live in the world of Barbie.

Later I went to the Handy Andy Car Wash to get the Volvo cleaned, hoping they could find a way to erase four months of mud. “Do you want a full valet?” asked the attendant, sensing a windfall.

Queue of grey cars after Winter
“How long will that take?” I asked.

He gazed at the once-white exterior, then opened the car door and studied the sweet-encrusted carpets, layers of dog hair and piles of detritus that had accrued since my last visit. The man’s lips made a slow whistling sound, then he shook his head with obvious disapproval.

“More than an hour – much more”, he said.

So, while they began scraping the car back to a showroom finish, I went into Dobbies for a full breakfast and a long chat with Gary the butcher, who was busy preparing kebabs for the hordes. At the checkout there was a queue of men with sawn-off tee shirts carrying bags of barbecue coal. Sensibly, most had bought the small size, only too aware of how transient this glimpse of summer was likely to be.

Back home, Jo had cleared Izzy’s swing of mildew and bird droppings and now she was finally looking like the Californian I married: bare legs sitting cheerfully on brand new garden cushions. We have to buy a new set each year: they tend to rot by October.

I settled down next to her with a copy of The Journal and a glass of rosé and promptly fell asleep. Five minutes later, Izzy woke me up.

“Hi Princess”, I said.

Izzy The Bet
“I’m not going to be a princess now, I’m going to be a bet”.

I looked at her over my sunglasses. “A bat? That flies around at night?”

“No, Daddy, a bet”.

“A bed?” She had lost me completely.

“Yes, a bet: that looks after the amimuls and makes them better.”

Just then, I heard my next-door neighbour, who actually is a vet, revving up his lawnmower. I glanced at the wild savannah that was formerly our neat lawn and put down the glass of wine with a sigh. As I filled my own mower with petrol, I heard Jo gently singing: “Summer days, drifting away”.

Well, it was nice while it lasted.

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