The walk with my wee girl to and from my son’s school has the same view, but entirely opposite speeds. On the way there, I only take in the most noticeable features as I speed past with Ciara in the buggy – more aware of the bumps on the pavement and the height of the kerbs than of the occasionally well-kept gardens or the centuries old red wood trees. Having travelled that way so often, I know what is there, but mostly, I don’t properly see it. I know, for example, that there is a site where an eleventh night bonfire either manifests itself in precarious towers of incombustible rubbish, a smoldering black heap of the parts that have burned, or the forgiving green of new grass, mercifully removing all traces of the carnage that went before. I know that beyond the street I walk down there is the draw of a well-kept, tree-framed golf course, and I know that I pass one sad house with an ancient For Sale sign: it is despaired of now, but the ancient roses in its garden tell me that it was loved once.
The way back looks the same, but as Ciara is now walking beside me, everything is slowed right down. With one eye on the tiny distant figure of my running son, and one on my meandering daughter, this slow motion does not hold the advantages of deepened perception that you might think. Beside a two year old, gentle slopes become mountains, quiet streets perilous roads, and beautiful red berries poisonous distractions on the path.
And the sky? Unless it is touching me with rain or snow, I rarely see it, so busy am I being a sometimes running, sometimes child-halted mother.