A sixth of our Warsaw stay is over. What have been the distinctive pleasures of this month?
Twins of course. It goes without saying.
I’ve become increasingly part of their lives, and watched with delight (mostly) the manifestations of two very different and decided personalities. They’ve led their grandparents through the park as dogs, using scarves as dog leads, much to the amusement of at least one pair of bench sitters. They’ve pranced amongst the trees tootling on their recorders to “make the plants grow”. They’ve become a bit hesitant about dogs after three canine attempts to steal their post-preschool buns, one a planned act of piracy by a pair acting in unison. They’ve invented games, notably Garlic Crasher.
They show an impressive ability to recognise makes of car from the insignia, and they are learning their alphabet sound-symbol connection from number plates. They love J’s grandparental silliness and relish his impersonation of monsters; his ability to run up a steep slope brandishing a bike in each hand; and his unsuspected skill in drawing fearsome (Jaś’ word) chalk seagulls and tractors with trailers carrying a cow.
They are very defensive of each other: when I felt the need to pick a yowling twin up from the middle of the road, Jaś, came at me hands on hips and said “What you do to Maja?” And when Jaś tripped and hit his head, Maja said “Nanny Meg hurt Jaś.”
They are adept at making cocoa for themselves, declaring “I not going to stir” and examining their “cheeky chocolate chops” in the mirror with mighty grins. I love watching them, occasionally, sit down together with a couple of books and read intently for as long as twenty minutes; or begin singing in their sweet voices words that are incomprehensible Polish to me; or disappear into the world of some unfathomable game.
Maja startled me one afternoon by interpreting a map – recognising the iconography of river and roads and parks: Jaś plays with words. When I said “Tell the dog to scram”, he improvised to “Scram, you scrambled egg”, which he shrieked at every dog he saw, to the bewilderment of their owners. Maja is a stickler for correctness: on a number of occasions she’s been quite cranky with me when she tries to teach me a Polish word, such as “grzyb”, and I still get it wrong after numerous attempts.
I knew spring would be splendid, but I had no idea how splendid. In this month, the greenness thickened; the first blossoms flourished and fell; new trees flowered, including lilacs and last year’s love, the horse chestnut; Our Lady’s garden on the way to preschool expanded daily; and the world was coloured in tulips. My awakening to the beauty of conifers was long overdue and without disappointment.
I enjoyed all this burgeoning in Park Morske Oko, Arkadia, the gardens at the university library and the botanical gardens in Warsaw and Łódź.
There were two trips away from Warsaw: a family holiday in a thatched log cabin near a lake at Gryżyna in western Poland; and four days in Łódź to meet Jo, a blogging friend from England.
In Warsaw, I visited the Museum of the history of Jews in Poland twice. I’m relishing the lack of pressure to see everything in Warsaw today that a twelve month stay allows.
Yes, there have been a few triumphs. I embark on purchases now with a lot less angst than I used to. I’ve bought a lip wax, an adaptor, a camera card, a train ticket, a pig and a rooster, all without breaking into an embarrassed and apprehensive sweat (and all in English, needless to say.) I’ve talked to the intercom at preschool with enough Polish to have Maja and Jaś brought downstairs at pickup time. I’ve bought bus tickets on the machine on a bus with my credit card for the first time. I’ve learnt the identity of a number of unfamiliar trees, thanks to J. And I’ve managed to persuade the odd recalcitrant twin into outdoor gear and the park at the end of a pre-school day. Minor triumphs, you might think, but not to me.
I’m a bit mortified to find that there aren’t all that many photos worthy of showcasing in this way. I thought there’d be more.
Meanwhile at home
My Potato Point son is taking stunning photos (this one snaffled from Facebook) and making videos in the surf with his GoPro camera, held between his teeth, so I’m led to believe.