It’s raining outside, and I wanted to do some gardening, but it’s too wet. But as I stood at my back door and watched the rain pelting down, I remembered an incident from my childhood.
(The image on the right is by Anita Klein, one of my favorite artists. You can see more of her work here.)
When I was a little girl we went to live in Scotland for a year because of my dad’s job. He was a teacher, as was my mum, and he did an exchange with a Scottish teacher — she came to Australia for a year and taught here, while we went to Scotland, lived in her house and Dad taught in her school.
The Scottish school year was different — in Australia the school year goes from the end of January until just before Christmas, whereas in the UK the school year starts in September and goes until June. So Dad had to go early. He and the younger of my two older sisters left months before my mum, my brother and me. (My eldest sister was doing year 12 and planned to go to teacher’s college, so she didn’t go to Scotland, poor thing.)
I don’t know how Mum did it — she was teaching full time, she had one child doing year 12 (final year of high school) and another doing year 11, and then there was me, just seven years old. She also had to pack up the house, get the furniture put into storage, and because she was a perfectionist, she also scrubbed the house from top to bottom. By Christmas, she would have been exhausted, but she still had to get us all (the dog too) to my grandparents, 4 hours away.
Anyway, we (Mum, my brother and I) arrived in Scotland in the middle of winter, and my brother and I started school more or less right away.
The class I was going into had been prepared for my arrival — the teacher had been teaching them all kinds of things about Australia.
But in Scotland at that time, not a lot was known about Australia — not like today where there is a wealth of information at our fingertips, and we all know about lots of countries from TV and travel.
So quite early in the piece, I, along with a small gaggle of girls who were very sweetly looking after the new wee Australian girl, came running out at morning recess, and stopped short at the door as it was raining.
I must have made some exclamation — I was disappointed — I wanted to play outside — but the little girls all clustered around me, full of excitement. Two started patting my hands in reassurance.
“Och, dinna fash yer’sel, hin, it’s just rain.”
“It’ll no’ hurt you.”
“It’s just water that falls from the sky.”
“It happens here a lot. You’ll get used to it.”
This bewildered me. They were explaining rain to me? And thought the sight of it might upset me? It did, a bit — but only because we couldn’t play outside in the rain. But that was all. It was quite strange. But then the rain stopped and we headed out to play.
That evening at home I told Mum about this very peculiar reaction, and she laughed. She explained that the class had probably been studying about Australia before I came, and that in the outback there were long droughts and they’d probably read about 7 year olds who lived there who had never seen rain. And assumed that went for all Australians.
So, that explained that. It was very sweet, and I remember those girls with great fondness. And every now and then I catch myself looking at rain pelting down and thinking, “Dinna fash yer’sel, hin, it’s just rain.” And smiling.
And to leave you with a smile, here is a little video that always makes me smile — a little kid, a dog and a puddle. Or if you can’t see the video, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PN-MjUC4f9k Enjoy.