It's December 21st, the last day of term. The sun is out, the sky is blue, and because this is the other season, i.e. not Summer, it's only 20°, so we can get out and enjoy it.
Towards sunset, I took a stroll down to Ibn Battuta for a little Christmas shopping, taking pictures as I went. The maintenance guys were pruning and sweeping; mothers and maids were out strolling and chatting with their little ones before heading home to cook; there was a birthday picnic happening in the middle of one of the greens; and on another some young men had mustered two full teams for a game of football. The sun hung quietly over us all, casting long shadows and giving a last sparkle and gloss to sprinklers and leaves, before setting romantically over the hypermarket. Yes please, I'll have some of this.
Goodnight! Bonne nuit!
All very ordinary, but I don't often see it these days, because I'm in a different phase of my life. My wholly domestic stage only lasted three years, when Habibibaba was small and I worked from home as a registered childminder. Parks, libraries, toddler groups, meals, naps and nappies, the company and common preoccupations of mothers and childminders - that was our world then. It was no idyll - children still don't come with a handy off-switch that guarantees ten minutes peace when you really need it - but it was a rich and absorbing time, full of small marvels and pleasures. Your world shrinks with small children, but the detail and intensity is extraordinary. I thought that that phase would last longer, that we would have two or three more children. Ah well, never mind.
These days, though, I appreciate the older woman's perk of being able to mix in, enjoy, and then hand the little darlings back to their parents. I still find little ones fascinating, because they are always so focused on the serious and deeply satisfying business of the moment. I'm really looking forward to getting back to Europe and the chance to be a proper auntie, rather than an annual visitor and Christmas card signatory: the eldest of Habibibaba's eleven cousins (on my side of the family) is twenty three, and the youngest is two, so there's scope there!
In the meantime, today was the last day of term, and I shall be very glad to see my current seventy-odd charges in mid-January; but first I'm going to lie down for a bit.