Riding (1 of 7)

When we’re up home, as I will always call my childhood island, the thing my kids are most excited to do isn’t to play at the beach or take the ferry. Apart from seeing their grandparents, they most want to go to Charly’s and ride horses. This is where I spent a staggering percentage of my youth: in these rolling fields, in this old orchard, up in those woods. It’s no fancy riding stable, only a simple corral and a rustic shed to house the tack—if the door is latched you simply scramble in by the glassless window—and a couple of shed roofs to tie the horses under for shelter while grooming them. The barn swallows loop in and out. The paddock is fenced with branches pruned from the fruit trees and dropped from some of the big maples over many years. Here I learned how to stick on a horse and also a great deal about kindness, empathy, awareness, and balance. Charly is mostly retired and doesn’t teach many young riders now, but she has open arms and bowls full of cherries and strawberries picked from her garden for any of her pupils who find their way back with fervent little starry-eyed equestrians in tow.

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I’m chuffed at my girl’s easy way on a horse. She’s timid, or at least cautious, about physical risks, but she can’t wait to get aboard a great tall horse and trot around, keeping her head up and her back supple. No hands? No problem. And she’s attentive rather than assertive, which I like to see in a young rider.

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Riding (2 of 7)

Jolyon was not to be left out. His face got a little scrumply when he learned he couldn’t ride Chocolate, the pony of my first adventures, or Koprina, the fiery half-Arab mare who figures in so many of the stories the kids clamor to hear again and again. But he reconciled himself to Not Chocolate and sat proudly and independently astride.

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Kisses to ask her to walk on… and one for Mama, too.

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It’s good to circle back and savor old pleasures through new experience.

Swishy swashy

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They never just opt for the mown path, these two. A sea of grass so tall it stirs the sky overhead? In we go. I like that about them. Luckily the little one has his trailblazer, his native guide, his St. Bernard come to rescue him from the drifts.

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She’s a stand-up sister, this one. As I write it’s half an hour after bedtime and she’s invited him into her bed to read nursery rhymes. I can hear her teaching him how to clap “Pease Porridge Hot.” It’s too charming to interrupt, even though I should really go in there and sling a little thunder. I hope they’ll carry some imprint of these early days together even if they don’t recollect anything distinct. Warm evenings barefoot in the clover outside, picking pole beans and eating them before they reach the table, calling back to the fledgling nuthatches in the apple tree, picking most of our sweet neighbors’ berries, lying feet to feet in the hammock or taking turns to swing each other. “Ada! Cookies!” Jolly proffers two fistfuls of bright geometric foam tiles. She’s wriggled under the kitchen island for Hide and Seek, but she stretches forth an arm to take them. “Oh man! Jolly made me cookies!” “Pee-TEND, Ada. Not real. Not eat them.” Oh, but that’s the real stuff, isn’t it? Boxing up the kitchen before demolition guys turn up to begin our addition and writing grant applications and grading patterns should also be real, but shhhh. I’m pretending there’s just this tranquil summer sweetness for a few more fleeting moments.

Over here

Whoosh! Was that a whole month flying by? Yep. Many things have happened, many blog posts have loitered on the fringes of my brain, and absolutely nothing has come out of my fingers here at Whistling Girl. This is partly because a person can only do so much writing about knitting, and all of that energy for the month of June has been dedicated over there. (There’s a little essay in there, too, and more to come for Brooklyn Tweed.) There’s plenty of knitting, but I can’t show it to you, so that’s Dullsville. Which leaves us with kids. Now would be a great time to ply you with photos of my part-time cherubs, one of whom just turned two, but I’ve been pretty lazy with the real camera. I tried to get a few shots of the birthday festivities, but the best one of the party boy, character wise, is laughably out of focus:

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A big plastic wading pool is, apparently, the smartest $20 you can spend on your children. They badger me to fill it before they’ve even had their cereal in the morning, when the dew is still on the grass and the sun is nowhere to be seen and the mercury hasn’t been chivvied past 56 (that’s Fahrenheit, international friends).

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They also acquired some $6 water squirters at a friend’s party and it’s been one of my chief joys to watch our Jolly master the technique of pulling back the plunger to suck water into the squirter, turning to me to affirm, “Not ‘pway Mama?” and then attempting to hit the garage roof. I won’t post photos here because he prefers to undertake his marksmanship in the buff, like the ancient Greeks, and this is the internet, and one day he might want to run for ninth-grade class president or apply for a job. So you’ll have to put the image together for yourself. Picture one of these fine fellows doing something like this, with fierce expression and manly thrust.

What else? I did some sewing. I actually pulled off an entire woman-size dress in three days, and I’m rather chuffed about it, but haven’t roped my husband into photography because life has just been too busy. And in fact I’ve never showed you his completed Christmas shirt. Note to self: Bring said items on vacation and take pictures while the children romp with grandparents. Oh, here, I also sewed a baby dress:

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Pattern: A free one from Anna Maria Horner via Janome. I made the largest size for our wee friend Kira, who turned one. Ada picked the fabric from my stash. I really intended that brown magnolia print for her, but there’s still enough to make something of it. I did a blind hem for the first time and whiffed it only a little… one day I’ll wrap my head properly around the concept of stitch width and which dial controls it.

What else? Soccer! Much World Cup love chez WGK. Ada can tell whether it’s going to be a corner or a goal kick (though she still calls the chap arbitrating the play the recipe); Jolly’s spectacular at yelling, “Come on!” He also charms us by kicking a ball under the piano and shouting, “Big kick! Ah win!”

Sweet days, all in all, flurried though they are. We have momentous plans for this summer—construction, international travel, a new job for Mr. G, much knitting and writing for yours truly. But I’ll try to be here in the interstices. Here’s to long light and summer babies and outdoor supper with friends and mojitos from the mint barrel.