1. Yesterday Martin's parents (aka Nana and Papa) drove up from the eastern suburbs for a quick visit. Martin's Dad has been seriously unwell, and continues with his cycle of treatments and brief periods of rest in between. As we were sipping our cups of tea and nibbling our chocolate chip biscuits, Fred disappeared to her bedroom to get something and came back shouting, dangling a dead mouse by the tail. She was not at all distressed. Excited yes, 'I have NEVER seen a dead mouse in my bedroom EVER before!' But utterly unfussed. Even while rushing her off to the bathroom to wash her hands (while Martin quickly flung the dearly departed into the far off bushes), inwardly cringing, I couldn't help marveling at her moxy. I'm not sure I could have responded with such scientific interest, without a glimmer of squeamishness or fear.
2. Today Fred wrote a song. She wrote. Both words and the notes, indicating where the pitch rises and falls. The words are 'Fox Mama Love. Fox Dream Dog'. They are my favourite words, it is my favourite tune, and she is my favourite instrument.
3. I was relaying this story to Martin today about parents breaking the news to their little boy that Steve Irwin, his hero, is dead before he starts school and hears about it during ruthless playground talk. And got tears in my eyes during the retelling. Fred has been playing with her 'After the Disaster' colouring book. 'Draw something you wish you had taken with you.' The other day she said, not angry, just in chitchat at the table as she and Una drew, "I'm going to kill the whole world. The whole world's a burning fire. The whole world's a death machine." Last weekend we went down to the beach to stay at my sister-in-law's holiday house and Una thought the reason we were visiting them there and not their usual home was because their house had burned down. Suddenly the house next to the shop is for sale, while other houses have been quietly taken off the market. The neighbours across the road are separating, not just because of the fires of course, but it's unsettling in its timing. Martin has joined the CFA and spent last Wednesday night running around in the dark wearing reflective orange pyjamas and forgetting people names. It's been raining and raining and raining, and the sunflowers Frederique planted last November - finally - have bloomed. The roads are still closed.
Before I go to sleep at night I think about them all, especially the families. When it rains, I can't help but open up like a flower, the children take off their clothes and run outside and play in it, Martin and I sit on the veranda to drink our tea and listen to it rattle the tin roof. But there are people 2km from my house living in tents, huddled beside their chimneys, which is all that still stands of their homes. Where do they go when it rains? How are they keeping warm now that the weathers setting in?
Fox Mama Love. Fox Dream Dog. It sounds like an incantation. A spell against the dark.