The sun is going down and casts a gridded shadow across our driveway. It’s summer and the sky is marbled with sorbet coloured clouds. In the distance, I can hear the sound of waves crashing onto the shore and it reminds me of the pipis that we went digging for a week or so ago.
Mum yells out my name from the house, dragging out the vowels.
“Son -Eee-AAAAH…Son -Eee-AAAAH,” she calls. She wants me to come in for dinner.
I stop momentarily, and as I do, I can smell of one of my favourite dishes — ginger chicken with glutinous rice. She’s cooked it especially for me.
I continue skipping along the low brick fence wearing a floral skirt pulled up under my arms like a strapless dress and pretend that I’m walking across a tightrope. Then I’m a gymnast leaping along a wooden beam, oblivious of my rumbling tummy and of a tomorrow that doesn’t exist because I haven’t finished with today.
When tomorrow comes it’s time for school. Dad taps me on my forehead to wake me up. He does it every morning because I yell down the hallway each night to remind him. I don’t want to be late for school.
At home I run around like I’ve eaten enough sugar to last me a week. I’m all about adventure and always keen for mischief. But at school I’m shy around the other kids that hang out on the fort, and chase each other, playing kiss catch. So at lunch time I gravitate towards a group of dry bushes made up of clusters of small thin leaves and dried up pods. They look like beans that have been been roasting in a hot oven for far too long. This is my favourite spot, my secret hiding place.
The sunshine hits the back of my neck and has already burnt the dry grass around me, leaving it patchy and bald.
I focus on a light green caterpillar with its furry body creeping across my palm. It feels soft, squishy and slightly warm. I inspect it’s lumps and bumps and as I pinch him between my tiny finger tips, yellow jelly oozes onto my hand. I decide it’s a good idea not to do that again.
Instead, I gently pick up two more caterpillars so that I can watch them up close. Then the bell goes and I run back to class, kicking up some of the dusty sand beneath my feet. Some of it gets caught in my shoes.
It’s been a long time since I played with caterpillars, but every time I see one of those bushes, or even a butterfly, it takes me right back to the simplicity and freedom of those hot Canterbury summer days.
Style File: I love longer skirts and dresses. I bought this Zambesi skirt on sale last year and it’s one of my favourite winter pieces that works perfectly with my Trippen shoes. I’ve been obsessed with voluminous sleeves for a while and bought this Celeste Tesoriero blouse last year from Well Made Clothes — an online store that stocks ethical and sustainable clothing (you can listen to a podcast interview with founder Courtney Sanders here). My sisters would definitely call this a ‘Sonia top’ and it feels like me all over. Earrings from The Service Depot and boots from I Love Paris.