Sep. 22, 2006 - A mini holiday
The bags are packed, food carton full of “non-green” treats!, 6 sleeping bags sit waiting expectantly, it is 5 am on Tuesday morning and time to wake the two youngest, slip them in their car seats and we’re off. Have we got the pillow cases? Did someone remember the sun block, insect repellent!! As I gather up the last minute details I slip a special readaloud in my bag.
Last night before the boys went to sleep they listened to Glen Close reading Patricia Mac Lachlan’s “Sarah Plain and Tall.” The older five all remember when we read it together. They had kept gravitating last night to the “littles” bedroom on some important errand “don’t you remember this part” “she reads it very well don’t you think mum, very true to the book” (!). In my bag I put the sequel to last nights tape “Skylark”.
We always seem to take a family readaloud on holidays and they always seem to suit the particular holiday we are on. Last year when we went to Aldinga, a beach suburb not far from Adelaide, we took “Pinky Pye” by Eleanor Estes. The book is set during a holiday and sand and water predominate. We didn’t pick the book especially it’s just the way it worked out. And “Skylark” this time was no exception.
There is a nation wide drought affecting Australia and in the north of South Australia how could we help but identify with the prairie drought in our readaloud. As we stopped at different places we saw all the creek beds dry, people told us about their wells empty. One old woman commented on the city people who squandered water in showers until she told them to stop “for mercy’s sake”. And at night dad discreetly wiped his eye as we read of Caleb’s water glass on the fencepost.
And so we came home. Only a mini holiday this time not quite three days. But we are melded together now, united as a family once more. Dad had been away for nine weeks previous and we oh so needed this family retreat. The bags are unpacked. The third load of washing is going through the washer, piles of “essentials” have been packed away and a mountain of dirt has been bathed off two small boys!! We open our book. Just before the fourteenth chapter Lachlan says,” now would be a good place to stop, don’t you think mum” (he always chose when to stop reading on holiday and that same phrase was always used). But this time there is an urgency in his saying and we all know why. Stop now mum don’t lets finish just yet, lets stay on holiday one moment longer, we might see another snake, hold another sleepy lizard or treasure hunt for copper, please leave us where we are there’s magic in a holiday we aren’t quite ready to let go of and there’s magic in the knowing what we think will happen in the ending of this book though we don’t want to go there yet. We all pause for a moment and then Hannah reminds us of the wonderful home readaloud by Hilda van Stockum “Francie on the Run” that we have to read in “ordinary time”. We all let out a sigh and with relief and anticipation for the morrow our holiday story is finished.