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Friday, 31 August 2012

End of Summer. Altamant Gardens. Unmoored.

The fearsome threesome are back to school. Bless them. Morning TV shows, (Sixteen and Pregnant, Britains Next Top Model, Britains Haunted Houses) must  carry on without them. All summer long they were to be found wandering owl eyed (late nights) in the   mid morning, pyjama'd and munching cornflakes    from  kitchen to T.V  , in and out of a cocoon of blankets on the living room  sofa. The house an obstacle course around fishing rods, kindle, discarded shoes, books, socks peeled from teenage feet, mobile phones, and other electronica which  I battled through on my way to work and back again. How I love the Autumn School term

 AS to them, well the first daughter drifted out of the car, resignedly and  with a distinct air of having other fish to fry, but  like ok so she has to get a brillant leaving certificicate first. Hmmm.  The boy strides off slightly dishevelled but uniformed more or less. My stern cautions are (should be) ringing in his ears,  "exams...he can do it..he will regret.....no one can do it for him.....in later life....etc etc"  "Uhh, can I have a fiver for my lunch" he asks, after an obsequious pause. He has had a good summer. His head is still  in the West, judging the wrist flick on the tiniest watery ripple, watching the line fly,  wrapped in the surround sound of   the whispering   leaves  overhead.  I can tell by the cut of him.  Even while  his legs are carrying him onwards into the junior certificate, the  teacherly exhortations, and, god help us all , TWO  HOURS  mimimum study EVERY night as prescribed.

And the boss, she is starting secondary school. I walk her in, and as we approach the door teeming with her  kind, she turns an abruptly stiiffed face "YOU don't come in with me". She inclines to me slightly. ,  eyes suddenly  stricken,  A Hug?, and pulls sharply back. "You can go now".  "Huh? Oh, Right, See you later honey"  I tell her unyielding back, as she walks away from me, pony tail swinging. . My husband tells me that in my mind my children are about four years younger that they actually are. And that they have one face for me and another  for the world. Perhaps. He makes his own space in the house and has his own perspective. Anyway he cooks me delicious Linda McCartney sausages for lunch, and helps ease the achy sense of dislocation ,of having been let go of, unmoored, by my baby.

We all go to Altamont Gardens after school. It is my birthday and we go every year, on the day. This year my husband comes too. He is as beguiled as I with this place. He knows it of old. The trees, exotic and native, the grasses, the embarrassment of  roses, the fairy tale  lilypadded lake, a homage to nature and devoted gardening. We stand in a line looking at the crumbling house at the top of the rose walk, drawn in by its human face, its air of having tales to tell. The three do a nostalgic encore  of stalking us as we walk, hiding in the myriad nooks and crannys, in honour of previous visits, despite being the size of young giants. I scream, unnerved,  when I come on  the boss and the boy, who  have arranged themselves on a ancient bench, partially concealed by an over hanging magnolia tree, stock still and staring outward in tandem. My kind husband takes my arm  as they  (and he)  whoop at my stricken state. Too easy.

The boy pays for a plant from the plant shop, for my birthday.  "Uhh pick one n I'l give you money...uhh how much will it...... its not to be.... not more than...uhhh".  "€ 8.50", I tell him clutching the most lively dahlia with dark green leaves, and a deep red flower . He grins with relief, his sisters hooting derisively behind him.

We see a sign marked   Adults €2.75,  on the way out (though not collected, at least from us). Also a part of the gardens were closed off today, (the ice age garden  on the way down to the Slaney.)  I explain to my husband that Corona North gave the gardens to the state on condition that they be available  free to the public. He thinks the gardens  are   not very well tended (though all the better for that). This place is balm to heart and soul. Are the OPW and the State in its most comfortable default of    smearing and despoiling what has been entrusted to it,  from basic uncaring  stupidity (or some other calculation that no body knows about?). I am watching them.