With the sunshine has come the garden. Our back garden is a little pocket sized and during the winter the moss flourishes in the grass and the claggy soil turns it into a bit of a quagmire, with muddy paths worn underneath each washing line, and that ominous squelching noise whenever I step onto the grass. But with the spring and the sunshine and the absolutely glorious weather we’ve had in the last couple of weeks our garden is dry, the grass is thick and green again and we’ve spent the most part of every day outside again.
We’ve had picnics outside, the girls race their scooter and bikey, or play yet another game of shop, and Pip has even had his first go on the swing. It’s lovely watching the girls create an entire imaginary world outside while I hang up laundry; or getting to join in as the shopkeeper who can reach the really high shelves. They’ve got lots of wonderful toys, most of which we’ve tried to make open ended and very inviting towards make believe, and I try to make sure that their playspace is uncluttered and they can actually see the wood for the trees but even my bravest simplifications pale in comparison to outside. We have a slide, a swing, a mini trampoline and the monkey swing, oh and the laundry whirligig too. And with that their imaginations make school, or traffic junctions or something involving fairies and ice cream that I really never got to grips with.
They seem to come up with so much more imaginative play outside, and spend longer in it that I’m sure there’s a lesson to be learned in terms of their space inside.
Last week they spent hours watering the newly cleaned off patio table and this week they borrowed the clothes airer to make a tent with a fitted sheet that I bought for our bed as my obligatory impulse purchase the last time I was at IKEA but found it was huge in just about every direction, including depth. Clearly Swedish people have bigger beds than we do, but H and my loss is the girls’ gain as it makes an excellent tent. And once it was up they moved in, curling up in garden chairs and borrowing a footstool from the kitchen to be a table for their tea party.
And as it was outside there seemed no reason not to say yes when they asked for some water for the play teapot. Quite how we got from teapots to a full washing up bowl of bubbly water that mysteriously evaporated and had to be replenished every couple of minutes while my patio looked the dampest it has since Christmas is anyone’s guess, but the wetter they got the happier they were and as all parents know, the only rule more sacrosanct than “never wake a sleeping baby” is “if they are happy, playing together, and nothing and no-one is in any immediate danger, leave them to it” so Pip and I played happily just inside the door and I listened and hide a smile or two, at Kitty’s “I must have a seat to do washing up, you sit down to do it” and Elma’s “I get it…!” as she dashed off to the kitchen for the other footstool to be a seat.
It’s a pattern that has repeated itself almost every day this week, even on the days when Kitty was at nursery Elma still asked for a bowl of water and this time Pip and I went outside with her. The game was washing up, but in lieu of the tea service which Kitty had put back into the box, Elma looked around for something else that she thought really needed cleaning up.
And that’s how we found ourselves sat in the sunshine watching my baby girl wash the primroses. Quite why she thought they needed it remains a mystery, but they made such a pretty pattern floating on the water and the splashes glittered in the sunshine so why not give them a bath.
It was a lovely moment, of tranquility and ease in what has been a busy and at times rather exhausting week and I really hope it’s the start of many wonderful sunny afternoons spent flooding the patio to make a puddle or washing the daisies; it sounds pretty perfect to me.