Storms and sunshine



At around 5.30 on Saturday morning the storms rolled into Melbourne and crashed and flashed and by all tokens made a bit of a fuss. An angry wind bent the new trees in our new garden this way and that and then both ways at once, sending droplets flying sideways as rain the size of grapes began to tumble. I watched it from my window, pyjama-clad, hands wrapped around a mug of too-hot-to-drink tea, and it was glorious.

By the time my cup was empty, sunshine was making rainbows out of the leaves on the fledgling hydrangea. I vacuumed the downstairs part of the house before everyone woke up, then stepped into the shower and washed my hair. When I came out, wrapped in a towel, I was greeted by an almighty clap of thunder. Soon, the rain began tumbling…

Melbourne did this all day, rolling in the thunder and rain and then rolling them back out again, to be replaced by steaming sunshine. Thankfully, by the time I stepped outside at five in the afternoon with a three-year-old Belle from Beauty and the Beast and an almost two-year-old Fireman Sam minus the fire helmet that he refused to wear, each with jack-o-lantern buckets in their hands and in the company of old friends and new, the sun had finally won the day.

We blinked and squinted in the sudden light, and put up our hands to shield our eyes from the white glare of the giant Halloween spiderwebs that laced half the houses in our street. There weren't as many as last year, it has to be said, nor were the crowds of miniature humans in adorable costumes as thick. Maybe because Halloween fell on a weekend this year, everyone had better things to do? It didn't matter to Scout and Ralph, tramping the streets shod respectively in pink plastic high-heels and blue gumboots, and calling out "trick or treat!" (and also "twick-a-twee!") at each new door, while I waited with the other parents on the footpath and prompted "Don't forget to say thank you!"

When we grew tired and the children's buckets grew heavy with loot, we ambled and stomped back to our place, where there were dips and fruit and four different kinds of cheeses waiting in the garden, alongside juice and water for the kids and various alcoholic options for the grown-ups, plus a cubby house and a bubble machine with flat batteries. Scout hurt her finger and cried inconsolably until her little friend Izzy came to the rescue, first playing doctor and then nurse. Izzy sat down and Scout rested her head in her lap and cried and then laughed while Izzy patted and sometimes cuddled her and not long after that, the Nurofen kicked in and she leapt up to play again.

All afternoon and well into the night the doorbell kept ringing. Each time, Mr B would race the length of the house to hand out lollies and chocolate to more and still-more spooks and monsters and Disney princesses and medieval knights and vampires and dinosaurs and ninja turtles and fairies and ballerinas and at least one walking, talking pumpkin. Later that night, Mr B complained mournfully, "My feet hurt!"

Night settled. The jack-o-lantern I had carved the night before, which was more accurately an owl-o-lantern because I had purchased the second-last pumpkin in all of Barkly Square and it was rather non-traditional in shape so a tall owl made more sense than a wide grin… The jack-owl-o-lantern I had carved the night before began to glow, and the doorbell kept ringing, and we ordered pizza for those who stayed on in the garden, and there weren't even that many mozzies.

Later I sat on the floor of the children's room and read them a story, two hours past their normal bedtime, and minus a bath. Scout sat on my lap and leaned heavily against me, playing with my hair. Ralph eschewed his usual place on my other knee and instead simply lay down on the floor, face down, snuggled against my leg, and sucked his thumb. I rubbed his back and kissed Scout's flushed and sugar-sticky cheek as I read, and my heart felt just about ready to burst.

These are the days. These minutes and moments tumbled about with storms and sunshine, real and metaphorical, that I want to remember. My children, my friends, my community. I will cherish them and hold on to them and I hope I will never, never forget.