Saturday, 12 November 2011

There was bright blood red

all over the floor when we arrived at the house of the six children. We had not been to their new home before. It is some distance from the city. Yesterday their grandparents picked me and my father up and we went to visit them.
They are still establishing a garden and one reason for the visit was so that my father, still a keen gardener, could give them a long gardening lesson. He had spent several weeks preparing for this and the back of their grandfather's large vehicle was packed with pots, garden stakes, compost, pea straw and other gardening delights.
First however they had to do some other school work. When we arrived the youngest three were making "poppy wreaths" from bright red crepe paper and cardboard plates. The floor was strewn with "poppies", abandoned the moment we arrived. Once we had been greeted and hugged breathless they hastily completed the wreaths. They had been given a history lesson. We would have what is referred to in our branch of the clan as "The Silence" with them.
Did they understand the significance of the wreaths? Their grandfather and I gave the older children a history lesson between us, trying to answer questions and giving them other questions to research for themselves.
One of the older children is not a keen reader. Gardening interests him. He has a passion for it. He has always said poetry does not interest him at all.
Without actually telling him it was a poem I recited part of John McCrae's "In Flanders Field..."
As a child being brought up in a very religious household he listened to the line, "Between the crosses row on row..." with a slow nod of the head.
"Is there any more?" he wanted to know. I told him there was a story behind the poem. We looked it up together. He showed another sibling. Yes, they liked that but it was sad. He told me, "I think I might try and grow some poppies next year." He is the sort of child who might remember to do that.
We had The Silence standing around their living area. Then they went back to being their usual noisy, busy selves.
Later the youngest child showed me the big book in which she keeps her special projects for the year. We were almost at the end and there had been nothing like that morning's lesson. Then, quite suddenly, she told me, "You know, a minute is a very long time if you have to remember something bad."
Yes, it is. It should always be the longest minute of our lives - and you never know what a child might make of it.


Katherine Langrish said...

Yes, I think they'll remember, Cat.

jeanfromcornwall said...

My great uncle Frank fought in Flanders. He gathered some poppy seed heads and took them home to Western Australia. When Mum and Dad visited the cousins in 1985 the poppies were still flourishing. I expect they still are.

I would love to think that they are providing pause for thought to someone.

catdownunder said...

I hope they remember Katherine! Isn't it marvellous Jean - he could get away with doing it back then. Now he would probably be prosecuted for bringing them into the country and people would have lost that wonderful opportunity. It would be really good if they were providing pause for thought.