The little one loves shells. To her, they are pure treasure. And so when she came to visit this afternoon, I had a box of my special shells waiting for her. I’d discovered it at the bach, and was glad I’d kept it so long without knowing why. While she made little suns out of trumpet shells, I lined up these special little violet shells that sometimes appear on the west coast beaches after a storm. It would have taken many months to collect this many.
The little one looked up and saw what I was doing: ‘It’s a singing group,’ she said.
Here she is, with her sun and butterflies.
I played some more, and she looked up again. ‘It’s a bunch of grapes, granny.’
We took advantage of a fine patch in the weather, and went down to the beach. There she found a very special stone: smooth all round, and quite like any other she’d ever found.
‘It’s soft like a cat and I can hold it against my cheek.’
While she searched the beach for special shells, I played with leaves.
She ran back to see what I was doing, and to give her commentary.
‘It’s going from red to green so it’s turning back to when its not dying,’ she said.
Her words took my breath away.
My play was idle, unconscious. I wasn’t thinking at that moment of my friend who is sick in hospital, or another who has a serious diagnosis, or another . . . I could go on.
So that’s what I was doing, playing with restoring the green, the resilience; turning back the clock, wanting to reverse the harsh onward march of life.
Being in the company of an almost five-year-old is sometimes like keeping company with a sage.