Kellie Road

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The school rush is soundtracked by our squawking and screeching. As the minutes move periously close to the last one, we become a thunderous cloud, speeding out of the house.

We move, with much noise, down and out of our street. My hair is unbrushed and I try to tame it by tucking it behind my ears. My boy is moving slowly on his scooter; his foot, in his new school shoes, drags and scapes against the pavement. The toddler and the baby, still covered in their breakfast, are strapped in, and screaming in their double buggy. There is so much to forget and it is not until we reach Kellie Road that I allow myself a slow breath. I release my boy from all my nagging and let him speed off to join the others.

The road is bustling with the children in uniform, with the mummies, and daddies, the childminders, grannies, and grandas. Dressed in overalls, and in suits, for the gym, for housework, and for a quick coffee. We are pushing buggies, holding little hands, walking the dog, on bikes. Bikes, pulling trailers of babies, attached to tag-alongs, riding slowly behind and in front like the sergeant major or the mother hen. Wee ones slow on their first bikes and in awe of the older ones whooshing past. The young girls impressively rock their hips on their wiggle boards and groups of friends move as a herd or a gaggle, and we all move down the long road, chatting, catching up, complaining, arranging. We holler to slow our children down.

I move aside for a hanging branch, and I look away from the rush into the quiet of the woods. The old trees, and newly planted ones, the sways of flowers, nettles and grasses. Today, there is a wee lost shoe hanging on the branch; the rooks are cawing out. I imagine their calls are for the child without a shoe. The bright blue shoe sitting like a jewel on the dark green . My toddler shouts out, 'booshoo!', and I say, 'Yes, booshoo'.

He points into the trees as a squirrel runs up a thick trunk. I stop and bend down beside him, and we point together, but soon lose the squirrel as it leaps to a higher branch, and then to far away tree. My 'ready for school' boy is waiting up ahead, and he shouts at us to hurry up.

A mass of scooters parts to avoid a big fat juicy slug. Its naked fat body, its deep thick lines, its glossy head, its size and markings makes me think of a baby hedgehog. I think then about the quiet little hedgehog we saw in the path a few months past. I wonder do they remember him too. My baby is now crying; I stop and put on the sling and gather her up out of the buggy. I strap her close. We walk on a little faster to catch him up.

He has stopped now, and with his friends, he is reaching into the wood to pick the raspberries. He smiles at me as he pops one in his mouth, and he is off down the road again . A sudden noise of a jet plane overhead, and a wee hand points out of the buggy, and upwards toward the sky.

'Meeeoooom, meeeooooom!'

We pass the clearing which is now full of new trees; we were here last autumn planting an oak tree. I saw deer here last winter, and I worry if they will damage the trees; I would like to see them again, and then I remember an afternoon when a swallow swooped low, and my boy stopped, and watched its flight into the dark of the wood.

In the rain, we have avoided puddles; in the wind, we have pulled ourselves close to one another. In the sunshine, we have meandered, and in the ice, we have slid. We have noticed the change of seasons; my toddler learned the word for blue when the bluebells in the wood appeared; we have kicked up the autumn leaves and, we have stopped to pick the daises growing by the side of the road. I have comforted my boy as he has run out from the trees screaming from the pain of a nettle sting, and I have called him back to the road when he ran into the woods, and away from me.

When in labour, with my now sleeping baby, I walked this road in my mind. I walked this road, and ended each contraction here, by the lollipop lady, and here, at the edge of the playing fields. It was to the deer running through the clearing, to the little hedgehog in the undergrowth, to the boys reaching out for the first of the brambles, and to the swoop of the swallows, that I turned.

It is not an extraordinary place. In a land of such natural beauty, it is not one to seek out, but it is this road bordered by a wood where I walk with my children; the road on which I watch them grow, and hold their hands. Where I hear their first words, and then to listen to their stories. This road, when time is on our side, we leave and enter the wood from; Kellie Road, my favourite place; the place where my life happens.