Tuesday, April 15, 2008


I know how to change Ming's age.

He showed me!

Under his skin, between his shoulder blades - is a dial.

Rub clockwise - he gets older.

Rub anti-clockwise - he grows younger.

Ming says humans have dials too.

He's seen parents rub the backs of their babies.

(That proves it?)

Martians are fascinated by humans. Humans seem only to grow older.


One of his missions is to learn whether this is because our dials don't function properly or whether we never think of rubbing in the opposite direction.


Diffidently, he asked if he might rub my back widdershins as an experiment.


I'm nervous.

I still am.

What if he creeps secretly from behind and rubs my dial?

Before I know it, I'll be three!

(Do left-handed people rub widdershins? I expect so. And the children of left-handed people grow older - don't they?)



Every spring, they rise valiantly from the ground.

Every spring. I show them to Robert, Ceres and Caddis.

"Look. These are plants," I say.

"I want them to grow," I say.

(Trying not to sound patronising.)

"Please don't tread on them!"

(I say.)

Robert, Caddis and Ceres smile.


And tread on them the next time they need an eighteen inch short-cut.

* * * * *

Caddis says she's not named after cherries - but a planet.




Melanie said...

Esther, widdershins is such a wonderful word. Just thinking about it tickles my fancy. Now I'm going to go around all day and whisper "widdershins" to myself.

It makes me wonder how many other beautiful words we no longer use in casual conversations.


OOOO! I've got to find that dial! I can use it to avoid my upcoming mid-life crisis. Can it move you forward just a day? Say my daughter is having a whiny day? Can I just move the dial a spec and skip the day, going right to an evening glass of wine?

Frances, said...

As a left hander, widdershins it is! But my children are growing older, I'm glad. About protecting the iris and other things, have you thought of stakes of some kind to make a little fence?

Esther Montgomery said...

Frances - you've just confirmed my intuition - that Martians don't know everything.

re. protecting iris and other plants:-

Stakes - Ha! I don't suppose you've ever tried playing light sabres with them?

It's brilliant!

You just find some stakes in a neighbour's front garden, pull them out (don't waste time detatching the plants) wave them around - and low and behold - a street full of Darth Vaders and Luke Skywalkers.

Little stakes and little fences - trip hazards and eye-piercers for the children running across.

(This is why, on an earlier post, I mentioned wishing I could afford some elegant iron railings!)

Teasles have proved the best protection - but we can't use them right next to the pavement in case they stick into babies passing in push-chairs!


P.S. We've moved the iris corms back towards the house now, under the protection of the nettles. They won't come to anything this year but they do seem to be quite extraordinarily tough. Nest year - we'll see!

Ron Eklof said...

As hundreds of stimulated fingers poke and prod their computers to google the term, a new window appears and through the smoky murk words emerge luring one to delve down the far reaches of human mystery. Whence cometh the pagan news of a sinister mystique applied by Gaelic tongue and hand for the said anonymous virtue of counter clock time. Aye, and begorrah, the march of time will scatter and minutes lose their way for the hands have gone widersinnes.
Er, excuse me, my mind boggles so. ;-) Got to go get my hands planted in earth. You know, for finger food.

Frances, said...

Now that was an amazing and wonderful comment by Ron. He had me drawn in and down the swirling miasma. Sorry about forgetting the attractiveness of light sabres, er stakes. I was going to suggest thorny roses, but the babies in the pram thing nixed that. Are all thorns out?

Nancy J. Bond said...

I want one of those dials!!

merlinprincesse said...

OK.... Do you think plants have a dial? You could get rid of those bad plants and make the nicest ones grow faster.... Well. If you find where the back of the plant is...Hheheh. :)