Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Colours of Childhood

Ireland of the Welcomes, Jan-Feb 2002.
My first encounters in the great outdoors, a tiny figure moving about in waist high, lucious grass, the smell of the nearby farmyard, the huge, silent sky, deep blue, grazed by slow, white herds of faceless sheep, shepherded by a perfect sun.

Here I stood, the universe before me. Red or orange ladybirds, their backs polka spotted, crawled everywhere, so common they could be caught and let walk across one’s hand any summer’s day. How long would they stay? Until, wonder unfurling, their tiny wings came out from beneath their spotted jackets and took to imperfect, wandering flight. Bees that came and went in quiet concentration. Large black and yellow striped ones, their legs orange with pollen; their smaller cousins of the hive, always working, ceaselessly, filling the fields with gentle music. Their larder work-place, the countless white-petalled daisies to the edges of sight, the purple or green flowered clovers, the yellow ranks of dogweed, the tall thistles.

Fence posts, grey, solid, between them kept the cows from entering the garden. They stood gazing through with curiosity at this small creature, its blond baby hair lying like a question unspoken, its hands reaching for noisy, nosy muzzles and wet, grassy snouts. Their hides of many colours, tan brown, black with white patterns, their tails, alive, flicking flies. Eyes, brown and lidded, stared through the divide. The world of the outside; the one of within.

Brilliant colours filled my childhood world. Not the colours of a modern playroom, but the hues that nature bestowed around us and of which, then as now, I could never grow weary. For some, memory is a fading book, something tinged and edged with sadness. My recollections are long still and wide, from low among the grasses to the dizzy heights of eagles. Filled with the wonder I am blessed and count my blessings.

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