The kids pile into the car. I settle myself into the passenger seat and bang the door shut. My eldest-at-home daughter, Imogen makes sure her ‘L’ plates are attached to the front and back of the vehicle, before sliding into the driver’s place. We are off to town. Charlotte has a piano lesson and Imogen is going to drive us.
When we get to the end of our street, Imogen pulls onto the road leading out of our village. She works her way up the gears, as she drives down the hill that winds through the sandstone cutting. We pass through a tunnel of rock. We sail into the shade of the gum trees, and then back out into the sun.
“Be careful of the ditches,” I say, but Imogen needs no warning. She competently steers the car past all danger.
The road swings this way and that. We glimpse an occasional house through the trees.
“Watch out for the wombat!” someone shouts. “It’s okay! Someone’s pulled it over to the side of the road.”
Imogen drives carefully past the solid body of the immobile animal. It was killed several days ago. It was probably sauntering across the road in the dark, and refused to hurry when it saw the lights of an approaching car. That’s the problem with wombats: they’re obstinate creatures. They walk in a straight line at one slow speed. No wonder so many of them end up dead by the side of the road.
Imogen reduces her speed. She pushes the gear stick down a few gears, and manoeuvres the car through a couple of roundabouts, and soon we are heading along another road, passing paddocks of cows.
“Up to fifth gear,” I instruct, and Immy grins as she finds the right gear first time. The breeze blows through the window lifting our hair.
Twenty five minutes after leaving home, we pull up outside the piano teacher’s house. Charlotte gets out. “See you in half an hour,” I say, as Imogen pulls the car away from the curb. We’re off to the next town for more driving practice, to make the most of our waiting time.
Charlotte emerges from her lesson all smiles, and as she climbs into the car, I say, “Why don’t we have morning tea at the lake?” The girls grin.
We buy a rare treat of buns and chocolate flavoured milk, and then head towards the lake. Soon we are sitting at a picnic table munching and sipping, as we look out over the glimmering water.
“Wouldn’t it have been a shame if we’d hurried straight home?” I ask the girls. They nod emphatically, their mouths full of delicious bun.
The spring sun is warm on my skin. I look at the lake: the water is rippling as ducks glide by. I hear peals of laughter as children run past. I stare up at empty branches dissecting the blue blue sky, and I wonder how long it will be before the first green leaves appear on the trees.
And then I turn to my girls and notice the delight dancing in their eyes and the smiles on their faces.
“I love coming to the lake,” someone says.
“Isn’t it a beautiful day?”
Aren’t you glad we’re homeschoolers and our time’s our own?”
I want to freeze this moment forever, but as time won’t stand still, I squeeze every drop of joy out of it instead.
How many times do we rush through our busy days, crossing things off our to-do lists, failing to watch out for opportunities to have little adventures? Adventures don’t need to be complicated or expensive. They don’t need to take up much time. They can occur close to home. All we needed today were a few iced buns, four beautiful girls and a lake in our local town.
I take my camera and snap a few photos: memories of a special moment in an ordinary day.