Tuesday, 24 May 2011

The Reader House.

England was the first thing that I remember clearly. From before then I have only glimpses: playing at a friend’s house; going to a church, but England was where my childhood really began.

Stephanie was two years old in the winter of 1997. As she watched the frost covered window she could make out the glistening tightly packed snow that covered the ground outside the house. It was a big house, a warm house with fireplaces and thick walls to keep out the cold. On one side of it there were big fenced fields for Mr Reader’s sheep to graze in, and on the other side there was a wind break of trees with Top Warren Lane beyond that, and more fields and houses farther still.

Mum said that once the house had been a mansion but now there was a wall down the middle and it was separated into two large houses. Stephanie lived in one side with her Mum and her Dad, Sherrie and Adrian Smith, and her brother Jordan and her sister Rosemary, and in the other side lived the Reader family. Which was why, when Stephanie was older, the house came to be known to as the ‘Reader’ house.

 At this point in time, Jordan was six years old. He was a tall and some what lanky boy, as lanky as a six year old could be, with short and very fine brown hair. He was the oldest of the Smith family children, followed then by Rosemary, a sturdy looking four year old with blonde hair, and finally Stephanie, a rather slight girl for her age with curly, orange hair that, like her sisters, fell below her shoulders. 

Although Stephanie was the smallest, when Jordan and Rosemary went to play in the snow with the Reader boy, Mark, she was big enough to go with them. The snow was crisp under her boots and she could almost imagine that the cold was coming up through them. The snow tasted good and fresh, but it was hard to manipulate with her mittens on, and they kept getting wet through. So she took them off and later found that she had lost one. Mum wasn’t pleased but the stray mitten proved easy enough to find; when you have the view that a mother has, as it seemed to Stephanie.  

That night mum sewed a long piece of yarn between the two mittens from the bottom left corner of the left mitten, to the bottom right corner of the right one. When she was done she threaded one mitten through Stephanie’s jumper so that the string ran from her left mitten, up her arm, across her chest and back down her right arm to the other mitten. This way, if she took them off she would not lose them because the string would hold them limply at her wrists.

One day when Jordan, Rosemary, Mark and Stephanie were out playing in the snow, the two boys decided it would be fun the climb over into the first paddock and chase the sheep. So they started for the back of the house where they could climb the fence without being seen by any of the parents from the front windows. At this time, and for quite a time afterwards, Rosemary was in the habit of doing whatever Jordan did so off she went too, around the back of the house – Stephanie, however, followed because she didn’t like to be left out, but secretly she was terrified of the sheep and so when they came to the fence she climbed only half way before insisting that she was too little to climb the other half and over.

She wasn’t truly terrified of the sheep, only very scared, because she was so small and the sheep were so big that she was afraid of being trodden on. She also had a fear that if one of the rams were to charge at her, her being as small as she was, she would not be able to stop it, or get out of the way, in time.

And so days passed in the Reader house. Stephanie was happy there, she liked how big it was, she liked the gardens and fields, she liked sitting with her dad by the fireplace at night; it was a good aid to the imagination living in such a wonderful place; but the truth was that she was too little to be worried by things that worry grown-ups and not nearly so concerned by starting again. She liked the adventure, in fact as a small girl she often pretended that she was a gypsy – free to move where the wind blew. She was somewhat like her dad in this area; he too had a great deal of wanderlust. They were both excited by the notion of change and so leapt at the idea of leaving the big house and moving into Chapel Town.

I couldn't find a picture of me in england, but this one is from new zealand. I would have been 6 years old at this point. The other little girl's name is Alexandrah, she was a good friend of mine while I was There. In so many ways I miss my childhood, but then in so many ways I can't wait until I'm offically and finally an adult.

Steph xx

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