Polly Greeks’ Blog: The Unfathomable life kaleidoscope


Polly and James are on nursing duties as the kids battle a nasty bug, but in the backyard Bugs Bunny has been at play.

When viewed through microscopes, coughing germs must surely resemble hideous, teeth-gnashing ghouls that any 1950’s B-grade horror would be proud to terrify drive-in audiences with. And what are we to them? An assortment of French patisserie delights the size of mountain ranges?

The children’s corporeal Alps have recently been assaulted by an especially aggressive team of virulent clamberers known collectively as whooping cough. As Vita and Zendo chorus through the nights like rasping walruses smoking cheap cigars in the emphysema ward, it’s felt as if this unseen mountaineering menace will truly knock us buggers off. And with chesty hacks frequently culminating in projectile vomits that would make the exploits from the girl in ‘The Exorcist’ seem demure and quaint, laundering sheets and pyjamas has assumed the proportion of an ultra-marathon.

Initially James showed some strength of character by donning his manrobe (an absurd relic from boarding school days when a house matron would serve hot cocoa before lights-out) to become a remedy-proffering lady of the headlamp. After a week, however, he waved a white flag and was last seen heading high up into the trusses with a sleeping bag and ear muffs thick enough to deflect sonic booms.

Like all modern parents we raced cap-in-hand to the all-knowing Doctor Google in search of a silver bullet remedy and forthwith lotions and potions were couriered-out from quackeries nationwide. Our local nurse had already said antibiotics were ineffective and in our experience, much of this alternative snake oil actually works (perhaps why some of it has been used for millennia) and combined with the old panacea of time, it looks like we might survive this latest unpleasantness, albeit haggardly.
While preoccupied with the running of an infirmary, spring has sprung on the land with both positive and negative permeations. The sound of a dozen cheeping ducklings tailing their mother one morning was a tonic to hacking children but the appearance of eight baby bunnies cavorting around the rabbit run was enough to make me weep.

‘I thought you said we weren’t having more babies!’ Seven-year-old Vita radiated joy at the unexpected delivery.
Not only had I uttered these words, I’d made sure Coco rabbit had been surgically altered to keep them true. But even as I pondered the logistics of this miracle birth, the culprit hopped into view to demonstrate how it had happened. Posy, the baby girl rabbit we’d kept from the last litter seemed to grin at his treachery as he humped his poor post-natal mother.

Like beach-goers facing a sudden tsunami we scrambled into action, evicting him from the run before a tide of rabbits drowned us all, but even though James built him gentleman’s quarters, we were too late and a further six baby bunnies arrived 28 days later.
‘Maybe we should just release them into the wild somewhere far from home?’ I said in a despairing moment when nobody had responded to my many advertisements, but James and Vita were so rightfully shocked and full of environmental admonitions, I feebly assured them I was only joking. Happily, only six baby rabbits now need new homes.

With springtime comes spring cleaning. Some months ago, a bottle of homebrewed cider vinegar exploded like shaken champagne across the kitchen walls, leaving an extraordinary trail of splattered stains that darkened with time. With the children in quarantine and weekend forays off the itinerary, James has grappled with the roller instead, adding a bold colour named Pizzazz to the walls and our lives. Outdoors, we’ve spring-cleansed the vegetable beds of my experimental self-seeding garden, putting in tidy rows of beetroots, tomatoes and lettuces instead. While I tend to whoopings of an evening, James wages war on the slugs assaulting the beans and cucumbers.

The self-sown garden had its merits. Even though we didn’t know what would sprout where, the spinach forest, the explosions of miner’s lettuce and the rampant success of the bok choy kept us in greens for months. For that reason, we’ve left one of each to flower and seed in the hope next winter’s gardens will again plant themselves.

Wind-blown seeds and air-borne germs aren’t so very different. Everything hopes to land on fertile ground and grow. As with rabbits and breeding ducks, it’s just life, doing its best to survive. Like lords of the land, we somehow view ourselves as the controllers, determining what can reproduce where, but as the children’s nightly splutters and whoops remind me, we’re part of bigger cycles at work – swirling energy signatures in the unfathomable life kaleidoscope.

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