Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Devon Dreams

I am standing with my daughter on Baggy Point in the thin sunshine which comes after a squall. I grip her hand more tightly than usual as we look into the frothing water below, where the rock has fallen away from the cliff in dense slices. Gulls wheel and mewl and flap against the sheer edge. The scale is so unfamiliar it is hard to get into perspective. I gaze into the distance towards other land masses over silent seas. I remember when it was my hand that was held firmly and I felt and saw for the first time. Memories haunt me. It’s so long ago and I don’t know how that's happened. So suddenly. And now here I am, creating ghosts for my daughter.

She looks across the grassy space to the bay and gets out her little binoculars. She peers intently into them and squeals “Everything is so close!” and giggles. Squeal, giggle squeal, giggle. Looking towards where the boats are moored she says “Daddy…”

“Yes?”

“Are those buoys or girls?”

I start to explain but I can’t make her understand the spellings and the pronunciation and anyway it doesn’t matter. “Buoys.” I say. “They’re all buoys.”

She thinks for a moment and then says. “What do you do if you want to have a cup of tea on a boat?”

“Well, some of them have tiny kitchens.” I reply.

“Are they as small as an ant?”

I smile. Perspective is a difficult thing up here in this strange rocky world. As the wind gets up I suggest we go and get some hot chocolate. My daughter’s eyes sparkle and a memory starts to form.

49 comments:

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Your memories seem to make you feel melancholy, but from my perspective it seems that for your own daughter you are creating lovely ones! I'm sure it's a relationship she will always cherish. Hope you had a good break.
Pigx

Pig in the Kitchen said...

oooo, and you're still moderating your comments, so i have no way of knowing whether I was first or not. You are a tease SAHD.
Pigx

Kelly said...

What a lovely moment...looking forward to writing similar things about my daughter...if she EVER arrives!

Iota said...

Perspective. Yes, it's a difficult thing. It sounds as if you're having a lovely time.

beta mum said...

My daughter often says things like "This piece of toast is like a field to a germ".
It always reminds me of a story in one of the comics I was sometimes allowed to read - "The Numbskulls" - which featured a bunch of strange looking characters who lived inside someone's head.
They controlled him, but things always went wrong.
A bit like life really.

Miriam said...

Oh SAHD, this is just beautiful! I have similar fabulous memories of time spent with my Mumthat now, in a surreal way, are being re-hashed with my own kids. Unfortunately, I have no such memories with my Dad, who I did not connect with.Normally I just accept that is the way it was, but reading your post makes me a little sad. Your daughter is just so, so lucky to have you for her Dad, and you write so beautifully to boot.. blessed! Mimi

Stay at home dad said...

Hi Pig. Rest assured you're number 1! I think my problem with memories is that they indicate things that you're leaving beind.. We did, thanks... Hope you're well.

Hello Kelly, I'm sure you will. Enjoy the time before she does though!

It is isn't it Iota. Nice to see you here.

Beta mum I like that germ comment very much! I think I remember the numbskulls and there's always Being John Malkovich.

Hello and thanks very much indeed Mimi. That's very kind of you and yes, a little sad about your father but I'm sure he felt it all inside.

CrazyCath said...

You have such a lovely way of painting a picture with words. I am right there with you and your daughter, wondering if there are buoys or girls out o9n the water...

I wish you had time to post more often. It is so relaxing to melt into your world.
Thank you.

Stay at home dad said...

Thank you CrazyCath, it's very kind of you to say. I do make plans to post more often but things get in the way. I hope to though. Thanks again.

Jan said...

Good to return, SAHD!
See you again soon.

Stay at home dad said...

Nice to see you Jan. Hope to see more of you here or at yours...!

elizabethm said...

Have come to you via jan and loved your last post. Making memories is what we do, althought we do it best by being not too aware of it. Just being in it is the best and most difficult thing.
sorry, gone all zen on you now. It's late.

Stay at home dad said...

Thanks elizabethm. Nice to see you here even though it's late. Yes, I agree, which is why I don't often take photos...

liz said...

Can I recommend that you do take pictures - masses. When the years pass they allow you to go back to those memory making moments

Stay at home dad said...

Hi Liz. Yes, I take your point, but I find it difficult to step back from the moment and take photos. Luckily my wife is keener!

Sparx said...

Hello SAHD! Nice to see you still posting once in a while. Sounds like it was a lovely day out. I am very much looking forward to the time when the spud will have memories that stay with him.

Stay at home dad said...

Hi Sparx. Yes, I am doing the odd post and aiming for more, although I don't get about like I used to. I'm big believer in cumulative memory from an early age - I'm sure it's all going in...

Maggie May said...

That was a lovely post. You have a very descriptive way of writing & I felt I was there! Lovely the things that the children say at that age!

Stay at home dad said...

Hello Maggie and thank you. Yes, I only wish I could record it all...

Elsie Button said...

i totally agree with you about the cumulative (hang on - just got to go and check how you spelt it) memory from an early age.

sounds like a lovely holiday.

my dad has a remote cottage in the black mountains and we used to spend a lot of time there when we were little - it is a very special place to me. Last weekend we took Betty there for the first time since she was a tiny baby - and i had a happy lump in my throat, watching her exploring the stream, tree house, the shed, playing in the bluebells... everything - you start to relive your memories through your children - magic!

Stay at home dad said...

Thanks, yes it was very nice, I do like it down there. The cottage sounds great - whether re-living or fashioning memories for the first time these times are special indeed. Hope all well.

DJ Kirkby said...

Loved it, loved it, LOVED this post! Please start posting more frequently again....

Stay at home dad said...

Thanks so much DJ. It means a lot. I will!

Rebecca said...

just want to say that you write beautifully. always.

and yes they are ant-sized kitchens, you know, on boats. Your daugher was right.

Stay at home dad said...

Thank you Rebecca, I'm very flattered. Everything is the size of an ant really. When you look up.

Motheratlarge said...

Beautiful posting. I love your use of shifting parallels. Even now, at my grand old age, I'm still realising that the places of my childhood are nothing like as big in reality as I remember them in my head. And, like you, when I'm with my daughter I veer back and forth from experiencing life as I did when I was around her age to the present day. How well you put things.

merry weather said...

Very evocative piece - making ghosts for your daughter - and beautifully put. One day she can read this and anchor her memories. Sniff.

I can nearly hear the seagulls and the waves crashing, you've made me think SAHD - always a good thing!

Milla said...

oh, sweetums. SUch a lot in so few words.

Expatmum said...

Hi. Came via Hadriana's wall - a great post. Perhaps if the word was pronounced as they do over here (USA) which is very strange - sounds like "boowee", she would understand more. But then the story wouldn't exist.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Hello. I can't remember how I came to your site but really treasure it. We are "Stay at Home Mum and Stay at Home Dad" and it still isn't easy (sotospeak). Wonderful description. You make me nostalgic for the sea and the seaside. Will come back for more!

Stay at home dad said...

Thank you m@l. Yes life is nothing if not repetetive...!

Thanks for your generous praise merry. I agree, good to think.

Hi milla. Thanks!

Hello expatmum, thanks for coming. Yes I did think about using that pronunciation but it would only have meant more questions...

Thank you Hadriana, you are very kind. No, never easy. Will come and visit your treasures.

Casey said...

I experienced much the same thing when I tried to relate to my niece what I do for work.

"Uncle Casey makes pictures really big so you can hang them on your wall and they'll look pretty."

"What if it's a picture of something big already? It won't fit then."

"Umm... but the pictures of it are small."

"But what if you use a big camera instead of a little one?"

Oi vey. Her mother is trying to get me to take a picture of her for a Father's Day gift but it's going to take forever at this rate.

Hang in there. I'm just sure the perspective thing gets easier.

Casey at www.canvaspress.com

Stay at home dad said...

Ha ha... Good stuff Casey! Didn't realise there was so much of it out there...

Victoria said...

I remember being very confused about those buoys as a kid. Why were there just boys in the sea? Our daughter is only 18 months old but she is already coming out with things from her own perspective - I think being around children makes you see the whole world in a very different and new way, maybe a lot more interesting way.
V

Stay at home dad said...

Hi Victoria, thanks for your comment. I can't disagree with any of it and amazed you remember the buoy thing!

stayathomedad said...

Wow! I've found a kindred spirit (and a blogging namesake). This post makes me feel even more committed to our plan. Look forward to more.

Stay at home dad said...

Yes, always keep the faith stayathomedad... good luck!

blogthatmama said...

Hi there, came by via Rosiero and enjoyed the blog. I grew up near the sea and used to walk along the cliffs with my parents. Not only will I never forget it, I still really miss it now I'm living in North Yorkshire.

Jan said...

WHY have you turned into the Invisible Man???
And did you ever drink that hot chocolate you promised MONTHS AGO??

Stay at home dad said...

Thanks blogthatmama. It always makes me happy to hear about people remembering childhood things fondly..

Just doing a few other things Jan. What chocolate was that?!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Pig stands in the thin wintry sun as it bravely tries to break thru the dark and gloomy clouds.

She turns to her friend Elsie Button. 'This is where we first met him, at this baggy point of a blog'.

Elsie looked at Pig, her eyes heavy with loss. 'I remember fair pig, do you think he has gone forever?'

Pig looked meaningfully into the distance and held Elsie's hand a little tighter. 'I know not sweet Elsie. Now, shall we go and get a hot choc? I'm freezing my trotters off out here'.

Stay at home dad said...

Oh yes, that hot chocolate!

Genius, Pig. We shall meet again on this barren outcrop, I feel sure...

The Esk said...

A delightful blog, stay at home dad, beautiful writing, wonderfully evocative!

Stay at home dad said...

Thank you the esk. Very kind. I'd better do another!

Miriam said...

Oh yes, please do another one, I adore your writing! And keep checking to see if you're back..no pressure or anything..mimi

Elsie Button said...

Meanwhile…

… As Pig and Elsie stare glumly into their hot chocolates, a huge smile slowly spreads across Pig’s face. ‘I know what will cheer us up… come with me Elsie B’.

And with that, the ladies excitably jump onto Pig’s yellow scooter, and with the wind in their hair, they whiz up to the top of the hill where the games arcade sits.

They spend a glorious afternoon frivolously gambling on the Penny Shove machines and eating hotdogs.

At dusk, Pig and Elsie sit on the cliff edge, watching the sun setting and eating their fish and chips and mars bars, and animatedly discuss all their favourite bits of Big Brother so far.

As they listen to the beautiful song of the seagulls, they give each other a knowing look… for they both know that one day, in his own time, he will be back…

…Won’t he?

Stay at home dad said...

Thank you very much for the prod mimi and the kind words - I will get to work...

A minor classic of your own Elsie! Amazing what you and Pig get up to when you can find a babysitter...

Pig in the Kitchen said...

I would just like to add for the record that whereas Elsie is clearly fascinated by BB, I only chatted about it to humour her. I am really far more lofty than her.

And you didn't answer her question.
Pigx

Stay at home dad said...

If I start watching BB I can't stop, so I haven't started this year.

I will be back very shortly... there's nothing like a blog for making time whiz by.