He was about twelve years old. He stood at the edge of a concrete precipice on a scooter blade, still as a statue. Then he shot forward and dropped like a stone, out of sight. Four seconds later, on the other side of the precipice, he shot into the air and flew six feet above the ground, released the scooter, rolled forward 360 degrees in the vertical plain, met the scooter again in mid-air on the way down and landed like a sparrow on a chair.
It was around that time early on a Saturday afternoon when you realise the weekend really has arrived, and you don’t have to rush anywhere or do anything for anyone. I sat on a bench under a blue sky and half-read the newspaper in the sun while William and Tom climbed. The playground is near the main street, and the view from my bench stretched away past a football ground and a primary school and a swimming pool, closed now, and all the way across a valley where it turned into blue South Gippsland haze. I struggled on through the Weekend Australian’s Inquirer lift-out, then threw it in the bin. A bandy-legged red dog with white legs and a head like a Corgi’s waddled over to me to see if I was disposing of anything interesting. No luck. His owner was doing what I had been doing; staring into the distance while his children played with mine. We talked.
Yeah. Red and blue. Good in the yard. Nips the cows, gets them into line. Not so good in the paddock. The kids are enjoying themselves.
Getting along like a house on fire.
They were hiding, running in and out of a row of ancient pines that bordered the playground, probably a windbreak for some old nineteenth century farmhouse. The twelve-year-old with the scooter blade had finished dropping and flying and went off and disappeared into the view.
Later, the boys climbed into car hot and with mud on their clothes and their shoes and I drove them down the hill back to their grandmother’s house. She and their mother were baking and you could smell it outside. The baby was rolling on a rug on the floor. She has two lower teeth and is about to crawl.