So what did we do today?

Today it felt like early summer. This is our first springtime here on the hill and it’s fascinating to see the different flowers and blossoms in the garden. We were lured outside early by the sunshine and spent most of the morning aimlessly busy.

We watered the new grass seeds. For this part of Spain, our garden in enviably green, but we thought we’d fill in a few dusty patches. Whilst watering, we noticed that long lines of ants were dutifully marching the seeds one-by-one away from certain places and building nests with them elsewhere. We spent a while observing this, then C (6) decided to give the ants a more interesting life and built them a little house with stones and an ant theme park out of leaves and more stones.

We tried some baby carrots we planted a few months ago and that are now just about big enough to eat. E (11) was in the mood for experiments so he turned the discarded carrot leaves into a kind of soup on the stove, then added some bicarbonate of soda just because it’s fun to watch it fizz. Some spices went in too, and he ended up with something inedible that smelled delicious. The spices inspired him to think about what world food we should try cooking next. The conclusion was Mongolian, though I can’t remember why. It turns out that he’s quite knowledgable about Mongolia, so I learned a few things there. He looked up some recipes and apparently we’re going to enjoy an evening of vodka, dumplings and meat. I’m holding out for a vegetarian option.

C meanwhile was dying her carrot leaves red, then made some red bubble mixture which is now being frozen to see what it looks like in the morning. She also tried making perfume with wisteria petals and water, then since it didn’t smell so good, she added some rosemary and lavender. It still smelled pretty bad – in fact, it reminded me of trying to make rose water as a child and always being disappointed. So we’re going to look up some Youtube videos on how to make perfume. After that, she figured something edible would be more fun, so she made a fruit salad. I helped her with cutting the apple, but she got the orange and banana all sorted herself.

What else happened today? E and I spoke a bit in French. Last week he decided to learn French and spent a few days plugged into Duolingo, so we’re able to do a few conversational basics together. The plan is to take a weekend trip to France soon and at least have the satisfaction of ordering his chocolate milk and croissant himself.

We spent a while in the orchard looking at the fruit trees in different stages of blossom. There are still a couple of incognitos that didn’t produce fruit last year, so we’re not sure what they are. We have one tree that over the last couple of weeks has produced dozens of succulent little orange fruit (in the picture above). Apparently these are loquats – still a bit sharp, but we’re hoping they get sweeter. We also looked at where we’ll put the yurt that we’re planning to set up, and where the composting loo will go. We still have a lot of research to do on both of these.

Other bits and pieces today for C included playing with Playmobil and looking for an app to help her read. We looked at a few but none has seemed fun enough to her so far. Meanwhile, she’s learning new words by herself. Given D and E’s experience, I suspect that some day soon it’s all just going to click into place for her.

There were various chats about a number of things, including Brexit, vegetarianism, courses that D (13) could do at the university in Barcelona, and reducing our plastic consumption. The conversations that come up are so often related to the world and its functioning, particularly regarding ethics and ecology. I can see all of them looking a few years down the line and wondering what life holds, and how they will make their mark in the world. There’s often a sense of exasperation at the world the adults have created, and I can’t argue with that. Last night D and I had a long chat about the MeToo movement. It’s challenging for him as he gets older and becomes aware of all the ways the world is so complex and out of whack, and he’s really trying to formulate his own opinions.

All these conversations make me realise that adults and children do need to spend time together. Children want to understand the world, and only being with peers, who are on the same adventure as themselves, can’t quite provide the full picture or the safe place they need to talk through their thoughts without judgement. And adults need to keep seeing the world from their perspective and being challenged by their views, which often have a clarity and logic that we have somehow lost on the way.

And, the day ended with an intense dance battle on the Wii. A busy Monday of nothing in particular and lots at the same time.

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