It’s the first of October and we’re sitting on a beach in Wales in our shorts and t-shirts, trying to stop the dog from snaffling our sandwiches. We’ve spent the morning walking along the beach, bare feet on wet sand, jumping the waves and laughing at our pup, now a gangly adolescent, as he tries to catch the seagulls.
It’s been one of those mornings that will stay as a snapshot memory, a golden moment - not least because the last time we walked on the same beach in August we were bent double against the wind and rain, although still in bare feet and jumping in the waves. The dog didn’t care about the weather, and he still couldn’t catch the seagulls.
Today, it feels like blissfully stolen time; we’re cheating the weather and when it’s pouring with rain in a few weeks’ time we’ll be able to say ‘Do you remember that weekend on the beach?’ It’s important to remember these moments; the delight on small daughter’s face as she stands knee-deep in a pool; big daughter trying to persuade the dog that he needs to swim in the sea and merely ending up soaking herself. All too soon the leaves will be down from the trees and left in swirling, mushy piles.
I have a book that I try to remember to write these moments in – just a line or two to jog the memory and make me smile on a miserable day. It might be something about the day I want to keep, something funny that my husband or one of the girls has said or perhaps just an ‘aah’ moment that I know I will want to remember in the future. Small daughter loves hearing about when she was a baby and the things that she did, roaring with laughter when we tell her about waving her spoon about in her high chair and splattering the walls with baby mush, or finding her toes for the first time, and without my book I would have forgotten so many little details. When big daughter is having a self-confidence crisis (oh, the joys of teenage years!) I tell her that she should be writing down all the positive things that have happened in her day or that people have said to her and she will soon see that they far outweigh any slights, either real or imagined, that she is focussing on instead.
Writing things down is, I find, far more powerful than a photo for reminding me of something that has happened. Photos are without doubt very precious, but you can’t always take a picture of something that you might regard as special; often it’s a fleeting moment, a feeling, an expression on somebody’s face. That’s where my book comes into its own, and whilst it may not make it onto any prize lists, it’s already a winner in our family.