We went, we saw, we did what we had to do, we left. Country life, here we go again, we thought. I wonder how the peas are turning out, I thought. I can’t wait to sit in my summer kitchen (it’s only called that. It’s walls are not even plastered) with a beer and a notebook for Fang in Fang Ltd, my latest, occasionally glancing at the vista of the whole village plus all the fields beyond, all the way to the power plants 50 km away. That’s what I thought. In reality we spent most of the week fretting about the water supply but I’m leaving this story for a separate blog because I have a lot of words about it.
With or without water, life must continue, and this is exactly what it did this week, during which I learned that:
Second grade is hard
It’s funny how many things we take for granted, including the multiplication table. It’s not granted. It’s bloody hard work and now that I see Little C struggle with it, memories have resurfaced of me with the table in my hands, memorising it because my parents will then ask me about it. Guess what I’m doing with Little C. Yep. Exactly the same. First you memorise it. Then, as it sinks in, it begins to make sense. For me, the sense-making came years after the memorisation but I’m stupid, so that’s all right.
And nouns, verbs, and adjectives? You feel like you were born with the knowledge of which is which, right? I know I do. Unlike the multiplication table I’ve no recollection of dedicating any active mental capacity to learning what a noun is. I do have evidence I did, however. I have books with the nouns underlined for two or three pages and then the verbs. Guess what I’m doing with Little C? Yep.
All in all, it looks like the summer holidays this year will not be exactly and completely holidays. If we allow them to be, we’ll have a re-ignorased nine-year old in September. Much as I dislike the fact, it has become painfully clear remote schooling is not the same as classroom schooling. So we’ll have to compensate. I don’t mind as long as the daily noise torture ends. I forgot my earphones in Sofia. I’ve no idea how this happened but it did and look what it’s done to me. Thinking about the hardships of second grade.
So is farming
If there’s one group of people who know exactly how unfair life can be, it must be farmers. Obviously, the artistic types are better at the drama but their lives are a breeze compared to the lives of farmers. In farming, there are so many factors to juggle, including, but I’m sure not limited to, the weather, weeds, parasites, more parasites, more weeds, more weather, water. And cats.
The weather topic has to be the most depressing one. There is only so much you can do to protect your plants from a hail. There are certainly things you can do to protect them from weeds (back-breaking weeding is what these certain things amount to) and from parasites (soap water is what I use) but the work never ever ends. You either break down or you develop a very philosophical — meaning stoical — attitude to everything.
I came close to breaking down (I’m an artistic type, there’s no point in lying about it. I breathe drama) when I saw that my good intentions may have cost the life of a plant I have been particularly protective of for years. It was a valuable lesson along the lines of good intentions and roads to Hell. It was also embarrassing.
I can’t remember where or when I first heard about soap water against plant lice. I know it’s been successful in keeping my poor beans alive after something picked almost all their first leaves clean. So, when I saw my little yellow rose bush — the one I’d planted personally, and watered and fussed over, and clapped at when it produced its first bloom last year — covered in lice, I was ready to respond.
I put detergent in the sprayer. I added water. I sprayed the hell out of the parasites. I did notice there’s a little more foam than usual but welcomed it. Good, I thought, suffocate, you tiny little vampires.
It took me a day to discover the fact that soap water can do the lice’s job pretty effectively, too, if you overdo the soap. Where there were lice before, now there were dry little leaves and scorch marks on the bigger leaves and the stems. I had burned my rose with detergent. I’ve no idea if it will survive. Apparently, good intentions can trump hail but I shouldn’t speak hastily. Hail season is yet to come.
Privacy is a myth
No, I know you all know this, in this day and age, and with all the gadgets, etc. But the younger forms of life we call children have yet to learn it and it’s adorable. C’s class have been having their remote lessons in Microsoft Teams. It took them a few days to find the chat section of the platform and chats ensued. Including when some of them were supposed to be doing homework. Apparently, those some forgot their mother can also open Teams on her laptop in the other room.
Of course, I spied on her. She said she was doing homework and there she was chatting her life away with a classmate. With typos, I may add. Did I tell her she can chat once she’d done with her homework and no earlier? I did. Did I enjoy the look of guilt and mystification when I did? Oh, yes, I did. She’ll have to figure out how I caught her on her own. It’s good brain exercise.
A friend of mine — with not one, not two, but four children — once said she had made it clear that there will be no privacy for anyone below legal drinking age as long they live in her house and enjoy all the benefits in life made possible because of her and her husband. It sounds harsh but keeping dangerous secrets ends up being harsher.
No, she doesn’t regularly go through her children’s phones, of course not. But she would if she has to. Which is what a lot of parenting is about, really. I will violate C’s personal rights and freedoms if it is necessary for the purpose of protecting her life so she can continue to enjoy those rights and freedoms, complete with the responsibilities that go with them. Life’s fun, you can’t deny it.
Private property is a relative notion
We have swallows in the house. In the garage. In the space between the supporting beams of the tin roof and the roof itself. Because the house has no eaves that are up to this particular family’s standards. They’ve been good enough for generations of other swallows but not these two. These two are extra-careful. They’re not having eaves. They are having the garage.
I heard the chirping of the little ones a while ago but ignored it because there’s a lot of chirping in a place full of trees and bushes. And then I saw the parents flying into the garage once, twice, three times. There was a mended nest on the central beam. And empty nest. Maybe they’d fixed it and then found it substandard, I don’t know. In any case, we’re now sharing our garage with the squatters.
We leave the door wide open for them all day every day so they don’t have to sneak through nooks and crannies to reach their nest. Yes, I know that’s what they had been doing before we arrived but still. The other day, I tried to sneak up on them to see what they were shouting about –swallows can be loud — and the moment I stepped inside, they went quiet like old gossips when the newcomer from the big city walks by them in the village square. I apologised before I left. That’s what country life is doing to me. It’s making me a more polite person.