Sunday, 22 August 2010

An Afternoon at the Park.

Little Stuff spent part of July with me while her parents were away, part of it with all of us at a cottage and a few days doing fun stuff with her parents.  In August her parents returned to work full time and her program was to be gymnastics three mornings a week and a local day care for the rest of the time.  But by the start of this last week, Little Stuff had had more than enough of the large, noisy and disorganized daycare where she had been spending her afternoons.  The friend she was counting on hanging around with was being cool to her, and while she was loving the gymnastics, the afternoons and especially the two full days at daycare were reducing her to tears.

The ED called me and asked if I could go in to the city for a couple of days and provide child care: she did not have to ask twice.  I picked up Little Stuff from her gym and took her back to her own house for lunch.  The last bite was not in her mouth when her chum from next door, who had been away visiting overseas for the whole summer, appeared at the door to the breakfast room.  There was a joyful reunion.  Little Friend is a year older than Little Stuff and a grade ahead of her at the same school, so they don’t spend too much time together at school, but they are the best of companions otherwise.  They asked if they could go to the park and feed the animals.  No problem there.  Little Friend went home to gather permission and provender, Little Stuff gathered up stale bread, peanuts and carrots, and we wandered off  to the park, which is a riverside park, very large and full of overfed animals and birds.

The girls chattered non-stop all the way to the park, most of it lost on me.  Little Friend speaks four languages but not one of them is English  - the two of them communicate in soft and idiomatic French and Little Stuff translates as needed.  Going to feed the birds and animals is a regular treat that they have both been doing since they were toddlers and they know just what to do.  In a very short time they were surrounded by pigeons 

027/365 and 028/365

and, aside from Little Friend having a finger mistaken for a peanut, a very good time was had by all, including grama who was photographing like a mad woman.

They played in the park the whole afternoon, checking in with me only to let me know if they were going some distance away.  They climbed trees and giggled and collected weeds and giggled and showed off their new dance and gymnastics to each other 


and giggled and ran and jumped and .... well, you get the idea.  It was probably the first unstructured afternoon either of them had spent for a long time.

Grama lured in the wildlife with some of the stale bread and took more photographs.  The wildlife gets fed a lot at that park.  
Check out the tummy on the second squirrel, the grey one.  
The river carried masses of ducks 
and gulls, all with one eye for a handout, the park itself is full of squirrels and along the river bank live groundhogs and other small mammals.  When I finally decided that we had to go back (Grand-mere a besoin du cafe!), they were both rosy and exhausted and when we got back to the house they were glad to collapse in front of the TV and watch the Blue Planet video until supper time.

I’ve just described what appears to be a rather boring afternoon in excruciating detail.  It wasn’t boring to me, however; I had a beautiful day, a camera (should have taken a flask of coffee, though) and a happy, relaxed grandkid enjoying some truly unstructured time.

One of the main reasons I started this blog was to leave a record of who I am and how we related for Little Stuff.  She has just turned seven and if I died tomorrow she would remember me, I think, but probably only vaguely.  I was lucky to have one grandmother who lived until I was an adult with children of my own; of my other grandmother, who died when I was four, I have only scraps of memory and mementos.  I want Little Stuff to have much more than that available if, as an adult, she wants to know.  I wonder if she will remember this day, or the days at the cottage, as special, happy ones or if, like me, her memories of these very young years will be hazy at best.

If so, maybe this story and the photos will remind her.  I hope so.  It is always good to remember being loved.


  1. There is no doubt of her remembering she was loved (and your daughters too ...) We are one lucky family.

  2. That sounds like a near-perfect afternoon (only missing coffee and chocolate). My sons are currently with Granny and Grandad for a couple of days and they will be spending their afternoons in a very similar fashion.

  3. It doesn't sound boring at all! It's my favorite way to spend an afternoon -- relaxed, aware, outside, with loved ones.

    I've never seen black squirrels except in Ontario. They're unique to you, I think?

  4. it will be wonderful for her. so sweet.

    and pigeons on the hand. MQ would love that!

  5. I felt warm and happy just reading this. And then I saw the pic of the kartwheel and my heart leapt with joy. Lovely, Mary: the day, the words and the pictures.

  6. I agree--that was a perfect afternoon in the park.