Days of grace

This past week I’ve been toilet training Lily. For some reason, I had the idea that it was going to be a little bit fun, and that my brilliant two-and-a-half year old would “get” it within a day. By late morning I had realised that it wasn’t and she wouldn’t, and I truly wanted to give up.

It was mid-winter, we were stuck inside. I was hovering around my toddler, offering her liquid treats of pink milk, apple juice and milo and trying to remind without nagging. Inevitably, my attention would lapse at the most crucial moment, and there would be another puddle on the floor.

Then, following an incredibly frustrating weekend was a glorious respite: a string of gorgeous, sunny days. They seemed to me like days of grace. It wasn’t just that puddles on the grass are preferable to those on the carpet. It wasn’t only about the sense of relief from being house-bound. Painting with Lily beneath that unexpected blue sky and soft late-July sun, I felt…hopeful. As cheesy as it sounds, I couldn’t help but reflect that winter and toilet training would both come to an end. I watched the expressions on my little girl’s face as she tried out her new “pearl” paints: the concentration as she scooped up the gooey paint with her brush, the delight as she smoothed a gleaming streak across the page, the fascination as she swirled her brush in the water and watched a murky cloud bloom. A lightness settled upon me.

Late in the afternoon, Jeremy came home to pick up something before returning to work. The timing of his brief visit turned out to be fortuitous. Barely had he walked outside to see us than there was a mighty thud, as a beautiful rainbow lorikeet flew into the glass doors of our sunroom. The glass is smeared with paw and finger prints, so it always surprises me when birds fail to see it – but perhaps on this occasion, the poor bird was momentarily distracted by the glory of this false spring. It lay glassy-eyed and motionless, a bright lime crescent upon the day-bed.

Our dog is always quick to investigate such unusual phenomena as birds falling from the sky. A few months ago, she greeted us at the door with a gruesome, feathery gift in her mouth – affording Lily her first encounter with death (“Why can’t he fly, Mummy? Was the bird naughty?”). Fortunately on this occasion, I was able to shepherd the excited dog and oblivious toddler back inside, while Jeremy set about the business of burial.

However to his surprise, as he touched the bird, it jerked onto its back, and began fitfully peddling its spindly legs in the air. He retrieved a towel with which to gently wrap it, planning to place it within our enclosed vegie patch where it might peacefully spend whatever minutes or hours it had left. Again he went to pick it up, but this time the bird launched itself into the air and flew over the neighbour’s fence!

It was a winter’s reprieve for the lorikeet. Another day that it might swoop and squawk and dangle by a claw sucking honey from a gum blossom. Days of grace.

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