After the last stint in hospital David almost loses his job.
He comes home defeated and with new rules that he needs to adhere to, else he lose his position in the company
that he has worked in for over sixteen years.
He loses his last work from home day too
and has to commit to working longer hours
which, I suppose, has to be okay because he is the only income earner in this house
and he needs his job.
We need his job.
When you have a sick child it affects everybody in the family
and the family as a unit too.
We are yet to work out a good plan for the next time Ivy has to be in the hospital and David has to be at work
but we do decide that we need to work harder to have good quality time as a family.
It won’t be long before the biggies will want to lead their own lives and spend less of it with us
so the few days we get together now are important.
Saturday is bitty, with part time jobs and sports
so Sunday has been declared our one day when we do something fun and memory making worthy.
It’s something we need to do to keep our unit as tight as we can because there is so much time when we are separated.
Our family has been slowly falling apart since the beginning of this year.
It is our very first strawberry picking day (which is one of the things I have on my 40 before 40 list and something I have wanted to do for a long time).
We have to get up early to be out the door by 7am for our three hour drive to Ricardoes at Port Macquarie.
It’s a beautiful clear day – a little crisp to start but the sky is deep blue and cloudless.
The drive itself is lovely and it’s very nice to be out of the house.
When we arrive at Ricardoes we collect our buckets from their little shop front.
We decide on one bucket between two and one more for good measure.
Each bucket holds about a kilogram of strawberries and each kilo costs approximately $16
which seems like a lot until we get into the greenhouse itself.
As soon as we’re in there, we know that it is more than worth it.
The first thing that hits you is the heat.
It’s warm and humid inside
and you suddenly need to take off jumpers and scarves -
peel away the layers.
It’s like Summer suddenly
but once you get used to it you start to notice other things
like the smell of the ripe strawberries
and the rows and rows of colour.
There are signs directing us to the best aisles, with the ripest strawberries we have ever seen.
The kids pair off and Lily and Immy and I are left in our row.
I can hear Noah exclaiming with delight four aisles over, as he chooses each berry and then snips it from its bush
and Dave encouraging him to look at the bottom plants, that are groaning with deep red.
The small boy is in a hurry to fill his bucket but Dave wants him to pick slowly and make good choices.
For a while he is stilled because he’s realised there are bees buzzing around the white flowers, doing their thing
and he is deathly frightened of bugs (still) especially bees
but once he sees that the bees are only interested in the strawberry plants he relaxes again and the picking continues.
AJ and Mal are lost in the depths of the hothouse but I can hear Mal directing his brother to the strawberries he desires and soon they are beside me with their boon.
Maddy and Ivy are way more selective
snipping delicately at the plants,
observing the fruit like fine connoisseurs.
Ivy works along her row with the great organisation of an (almost) seven year old girl
and Maddy likes that.
Sometimes I think those two are peas from the same pod – their natures similar.
They are each other’s favourite at the moment and always together.
Ivy finds a strawberry as big as both of her hands together
and Immy comes to me talking about aesthetics and scent
and I think about the artist in her and wonder if she sees colour and beauty the same way that I do.
We are lost in strawberry heaven for about half an hour before it suddenly becomes too hot
and we all need some fresh air.
Outside we place our buckets into formation
‘the five olympic rings of strawberry’ -
a sign of the times.
Inside the little shop we buy our strawberries
and other things too.
We set a new record for amount of berries picked and
we are rewarded with a pot of dipping chocolate to compliment our fare.
Tomatoes are a favourite in our family and luckily they are in plentiful supply as well.
Tomatoes send Ivy and Noah to their happy place apparently
and we all sit in the car and quickly polish off two buckets of strawberries and a bag of tomatoes.
I sit in the sunshine and the warmth of our bus
and think I am in heaven.
The cafe at Ricardoes is too crowded for our large group (because it is a popular place today and there are many other large groups)
and so we decide that we will drive right into Port Macquarie and have fish and chips by the water.
The drive only takes minutes but everyone is verbose
hyped up on strawberry goodness (and fructose, I imagine).
We stop at a fish co-op
but they only serve up the fresh kind of seafood
and we are looking for the salty, greasy, battered kind
with chips for the small girl.
Instead we happen upon a crowd of pelicans, some of whom are taller than Ivy.
They are crooning and begging for scraps from two fishermen as they scale their catch.
All in a row and they turn their long beaks in unison to the beat of the fishermen’s hands
like musicians following a conductor.
We are all mesmerised
and Noah regales us with his imaginings about how pelicans got their long necks.
His face is changing, I think.
He’s lost that little boy look.
Soon enough we find ‘Mikes’
and the waterfront too
and a tree close enough to a pub that is playing live, loud music.
It is sublime sitting in the sunshine with this beautiful view before me.
Ivy and Noah are chatty
and fall in love with a small black poodle who befriends us.
They roll down the grassy hill
and play chasies
while we wait for our lunch to be cooked.
The biggies stretch out on the grass and the little ones follow suit.
I think we have all missed the sunshine.
Lunch arrives and we feast on salty chips and fish with golden batter
and finish it off with more strawberries.
We want to stay longer but the afternoon is stretching out now and I can feel the beginning of evening on the breeze
and there is reality to return to.
We drive home.
Some sleep or listen to their music,
Maddy dons her ’L’ plates for the final two hours of the trip
but they all say it was a good day -
a great day
our Sunday special
and as the sun kisses the clouds with orange silk
we start to make plans for the next week.