Had to get out of the house, so took the kids for a walk over the fields. We’ve been over the fields across the way before, dozens of times. Of course the key thing is that we’ve been over the fields across the way, dozens of times, with Daddy. Daddy, who has the uncanny sense of direction, who always knows just where we are and how to get home. But this time, it was just me and the kids. Me, who has this incredible knack for making my children very very tired. Like the time I decided it would be a GREAT idea to rent a rowboat and row across Petersfield Lake. By myself, with three kids under 10. Having never rowed a boat in my life. Because, really, how hard could it be? And after an hour spent in the hot sun, rowing in circles until I actually grasped the concept of rowing a boat, we ended up stuck in the reeds on the far end of the lake. And when we managed to get back to the dock, another hour later, I staggered drunkenly from the swaying,tipping,boat- sweat dripping, baby lucky to be alive, shouting in the nicest way possible for someone to please get me the hell away from the god forsaken thing.
But today, that incident was the furthest thing from my mind. I packed the kids wellies, as I expected there to be big muddy puddles along the way, grabbed the camera and some baggies for berry picking and off we went. We saw beautiful monarch butterflies, crickets,grasshoppers, snails, dragonflies. We played in big muddy puddles, climbed trees, admired the scenery. We walked through the woods. We despaired over the millions of unripe blackberries, and complete lack of raspberries. (I know it’s early for blackberries, but I found some lovely plump ones in the garden this morning, and thought we’d get even more lucky)
Rafe was holding up pretty well and I figured we’d better get started home. My plan to walk East into the next field, and then South back to where we’d started failed miserably.We couldn’t find any paths and had to fight our way through a crop, nettles,thorns, tall grass. We could hear bird hunters(?) shooting in the close distance and the kids were scared. I was scared, afraid Rafe would stumble out of a field in front of us and get shot. I phoned David, but he was 20 miles away and could really only listen sympathetically. Eventually we came out onto a road. Great-except I was quite sure there were NO roads running through those fields. We walked about 1/4 mile and came upon a farm and some men on bikes. I sheepishly asked them where London Road was. Two miles back the other way. Of course. I asked where we were as I didn’t recognize the area and was surprised at how turned around we had gotten. Instead of telling me they picked up on my accent and asked if I was from America, as if this told them all they needed to know. A woman came out of the house and offered us a lift, which I politely declined. Before she could protest a car came along and while we let it pass, the two men started a conversation with her about sheep ticks and we made our escape. About ten minutes later, the woman turned up in her land rover and waved us over. Not seeing any way to politely decline again without making a run for it over the fields, I hurried over with the kids and we slid into the back seat. “No place for kids out here, with all the nettles growing along the road!” she said, not unkindly. You think this is bad?,I thought, Wait until you hear about the time I took them rowing on the lake…
She dropped us off in front of the house, and we thanked her very gratefully. We had gotten turned around, significantly. David and I had a look at the fields on flash earth, and I suppose it makes sense that we ended up over there, but I’m still not sure when/where I made the error. Probably in the woods, with the kids leading, and me just enjoying being outside with them.
In the end the kids had a great time, I got some good pictures, and it gives them some more fodder for the tell all book they’ll write in about twenty years. (You know- the one about the depressive mother who’s poor and won’t accept it but tries to make up for it by doing fantastic things with her kids, yet somehow always ends up ruining everything. Yeah, that’s the one.)