On June 16, 2011, Mama is sitting with a cold cup of tea at the kitchen table. The house is a chaos of toys, childrens' clothes and peanut husks. The dog's barking, the kids are trying to murder one another, the cats are mewing to be fed something palatable and the washing machine is lumbering its way towards a breakdown. Mama knows how it feels.
That was the first day of the 10-week summer holidays, 2011. The whole period had been planned with the precision of the world's first female field-marshal going into battle (obviously, with something to prove). A course here, a trip there, judicious use of treats, regular homework every day, and a leetle solo spa trip for Mama at the end of it all, just to recharge the batteries. On June 16, 2011 at 10am, it didn't seem as if it was going to work...
But we all survived, possibly despite the field-marshal's planning, to see this dawn break on the new term:
The summer ebbed and flowed about us. A hot June was followed by an astonishingly cold and wet July that did for the amateur tomato crop from Cannero to Brissago, but did better for the hard fruit that, as I write is ripening promisingly on the trees. August was hotter than usual, just to make up for July.
Holiday-makers came and went. Tidal waves of children pounded the cobbles. They insinuated themselves into seats at other people's lunch tables and learned how to pluck a chicken, make friends with feral cats, turn basil into pesto, spin linguini out of flour and eggs, and hit a tin can with a catapult at 30m.
Our little church was visited by ravening hordes of tourists, especially for the new Porte Aperte project, which we started this year. One enterprising 13-year-old, hearing that the tour was being given in English or Italian, but not German, spotted the gap in the market, wrote his own tour and in a couple of days earned a small fortune for the maintenance of the church. Bravo!
Today, though, Mama sighed a sigh of relief at 6:30am as she walked the dog, watched the dawn and gathered her wits. She felt a momentary pang of guilt as she looked forward to being child-free, to a good, long, tummy-taming walk in the woods, a peaceful hour weeding the garden, and the sight of the carpet minus a single peanut husk.
The pang soon went away.