Fox: I am hopeless at crosswords.
Michelle: Me too.
Fox: okay so, first clue. "The actor who played the headmaster in the 1939 movie Goodbye, Mr Chips."
Michelle: ahh.. another clue.
Fox: "The opera in which the character B F Pinkerton appears."
Fox: Crosswords are stupid. Who could possibly know any of these answers. This one for instance "What did Lot see when he looked back at his wife?" I mean.. c'mon!
Michelle: Salt. Lot's wife turned into a pillar of salt. Oh my freaking God, I knew something!
Fox's mum and her family have had a seaside cabin for 30 years. It's a lovely place, all snug and tall on stilts on the curve of Mornington Peninsula, facing Port Phillip Bay. Fox's Mum and Uncle and Aunties gathered to share memories and stories of childhood, in general and here at the cabin, and most especially, to remember their mother who had bought the property all those years ago. They were very kind as to let Fox bring me along and share this time with them.
Fox: "A device for measuring wind speed."
Michelle: How many letters?
Fox: Ten. So "wind sock" is out. Mum? What's a ten letter word for a device that measures wind speed?
Fox's Mum: Anemometer.
Fox and Michelle: Ana what?
Fox's Mum: A N E M O N E T E R. Anemometer. Were you not at school the day we made anemometers?
Michelle: I thought anemometers ate small chickens.
They talked of the old days, their young days - back when people baked to fill their children's bottomless pits, and Grandfathers carried pots of soup all the way across fields for Sunday lunch. They talked about their parent's traits and experiences. They shared as close families share. And they laughed as close families laugh. And they generously let this one stray kiwi share this anniversary with them.
Fox: "The name given to the ivory toggles used by the Japanese."
Michelle: oo oo I know this one.. they had a large collection at the Victoria and Albert museum.. net.. netsu.. natsaki.. *think think think* I can't remember what they're called..
Fox: Ok. "What's the qualifier for the group Cyrus, Miltiades and Pliny?" What's a qualifier?
Fox's Mum: the group by which all those names belong.
Michelle: they sound like moons or stars or something. How many letters?
Fox: 7 letters. Starts with Y ends in R. What words even _start_ with "Y"?
Michelle: Yellow? [Googling surreptitiously on the iPhone]
Fox: Oh, right.
Michelle: The Japanese toggle [thank you Google] is called a netsuke. N E T S U K E.
Fox: Mummmmm... Michelle is cheating..
Fox's Mum: What? how can she cheat.
Fox: She's using the internet!
Fox's Mum [not noticing the iPhone I have smuggled into the crook of my jeans]: She hasn't got the internet.
Fox: She's put the internet down her top or something...
Fox's Mum: Oh Fox, behave.
Michelle [sneaking another look at the iPhone]: and the qualifier for Pliny et al is "younger" - Miltiades the Younger, and Pliny the Younger and ow NO KICKING!
Everyone drove back to Melbourne later in the evening, leaving me and Fox to spend the night down here. Fox graciously let me have the "big bed" while she took the top bunk in the second room. I fell asleep listening to well-fed possums gallivanting around on the tin roof. I dreamed of soup and scone dough, of meals and of family. Of course, there were some explosions and terrorists in there as well, but that's just me and my dreams.
I woke to the early morning light, and the beginnings of a lovely rainy Sunday. Opening the curtains, I was snug under the eiderdown, watching rain wet the deck outside my window, and the wind buffet the trees that filled my view.
Fox popped her head in after a while and asked if I'd like a cup of tea. I told her how nice it was here, to be snuggled on a Sunday morning reading my book. She looked at the book in my hand and said "Oh you're doing that reading where you hold the book and stare out the window?"
She came back with a cup of tea and breakfast from the leftover biscuits from the night before - breakfast of champions and actually quite perfect for today.