I’ve been spending more time with young children lately and it’s no surprise for me to tell you that the world delights them. They stare wide-eyed as the clouds melt over the sun, shiver their faces into blizzards at the taste of their first ice cream and laugh as if the most soul-bursting thing has happened when you uncover your face and shout “boo!”
Over time, of course, this dwindles. We are no longer surprised by the rush of the raindrops as they speckle our skin but rather guessed they were coming from the dark clouds in the sky. If we’re getting really fancy, we popped up a weather report onto our phones. We’ve seen rainbows and puddles and fresh morning dew a thousand times over. We’ve heard kettles boil and parcels thump as they fall through the letterbox, watched politicians mislead and papers pretend that they care through the frothing of the latest health scare.
We look up, wondering, not only where the better part of the day went but also the month, the year, the decade. Where did the time go?
Travel buffers this, of course. In a way it extends our childhood.
Kettles sing rather than whistle when lit beneath the open fire in the open desert. Rainbows reach across mountains and describe nations. Parcels don’t thump through a letterbox but wait in a squeaky metal birdbox on a stilt in the good old US of A.
But still, the older you become and the further you travel, the more these, too, shift into the realms of the known, the familiar…could it possibly be the faded?
Something happened to me the other day that set my mind in this spin.
On an ordinary journey through the land of my birth, we needed to break, to pause for food and petrol (or gas if you’re from the land of stars and stripes.)
This requisite ritual certainly deserved its place in the faded, faintly noticed pit stops on the walk of life. Petrol. Brash arcade games, overpriced solidifying baked bean dishes and WH Smiths stacking aisles of square crisps, fluffy toys and peculiar CDs you’d never normally buy.
But this was different.
A curve of grass swept over the entrance. Inside, freshly baked bread dotted with sundried tomatoes and chopped green olives waited in crisp brown paper behind baskets of homemade cakes.
Daylight, rather than glowlight, filled the waiting spaces, and chalkboards on the walls proclaimed “you can’t buy happiness but you can buy local.”
I stood, I blinked. I reached for the only camera I had with me – my trusty old, battered old iphone – and grinned.
The world had just put its hands across its face, pulled them back, and gone “boo!”
And I laughed as if it was the most soul-bursting thing that had happened that day.
Photo credits: all from my trusty iphone except for the shiny new one at the top which came from Shutterstock