Picnic in Hainault Forest

I am on my way to work. The sky is lit up with crimson rays filtering through the bare tree tops. The sight doesn’t disappoint when I hit the main road and get an unhindered view. This time it is not just the horizon but the whole sky has joined in the fun and turned red. The grey rolling clouds have merged with the red rays to give the appearance of frothy waves with the sun’s rays reflecting on it from below. It looks like the ocean is looking down on us from above or is this how the sea would look like if fresh lava was spilling into it. Traffic is moving at a steady pace. Once again the calming effect of nature can be seen reflected around me as everyone slows down to take in the precious moments. 

The colours gradually fade into a pale pink glow. My mind wanders to the previous afternoon. A bright sunny but frosty day. It was too good to waste indoors. Getting two young children ready for the outdoors is no easy task. With last minute soiled nappies changed and checklists ticked off we set off to the nearest country park. The rains from the previous days had left the fields water logged and my idea of a quiet rest while the children ran around didn’t materialise. Instead we went for a walk around the lake. Lakshmi on her scooter and Lavinia pushing her doll’s buggy. 

For a one year old child, Lavinia has a pretty strong and determined personality. Where Lakshmi will happily let you carry her and her scooter if she gets the chance, Lavinia will have nothing of the sort. She is Miss Independent, who wants to do everything herself and does it with exuberance. She walked the distance pushing the buggy straight through muddy puddles ignoring the dry paths around it. She stared at the ducks and geese with wonder and squealed at the dogs which passed by. The doll was promptly dropped and now covered in mud which made her gasp with sympathy till I wiped it clean. Lakshmi on the other hand didn’t want to see the ducks or farm animals. 

The benches were dry but were surrounded by soggy ground and there was nowhere to sit and rest for a bit. Lakshmi was getting impatient. The puddles were covered in broken ice shards which reminded me how cold it actually was. A man trying to take photos slipped and fell on the frozen grass verge. We plodded along looking for somewhere to settle down. Finally a fallen tree provided the perfect spot. The children sat on the tree trunk as I tried to open the tupperware box. Freezing fingers making the simple task difficult. Peeling the oranges were even trickier. Lavinia happily demolished the peanut butter sandwiches and Lakshmi started to look happy. 

Two children with two different personalities. I hope Lavinia’s cheerful spirit will stay with her through her life’s journey and doesn’t get corroded as she faces the real world in due course. In the meantime Lakshmi needs to learn to capture her fears and stop them from getting the better of her. I am sure it is just a passing phase from which she will wake up soon. 

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