Our youngest grandson Nicholas is just 18 months and when we sing one of his favorite songs, he becomes extremely animated as he goes through the twisting motions of steering the bus. Then his face lights up and he laughs in obvious delight as he flings his little arms wide and then closes them again in perfect rhythm to the pretend doors flying open and snapping shut. We adults momentarily turn child-like as we sing the song and flail our arms in the air, completely oblivious to how ridiculous and juvenile we may appear to any onlookers. The grandparents are having way too much fun to care what others think!
The wheels on the bus go round and round wherever Nicholas goes – most recently it was here in England with us as he and his Mom and Dad visited with my parents. We had a delightful four days where time overlapped for us all before they had to return to Austin. While we were together, we lost no time in visiting old familiar haunts, but in a new way with a heightened sense of enjoyment, viewed freshly through the eyes of Nicholas and his first experiences of this, that and the other. There was Easter Sunday lunch at The Plough, a latte at the Poet’s Corner Café where I logged on to internet and checked email. Yes – I am in withdrawal – it’s hard not having internet on tap.
Then there was the day trip and two-car caravan to Dorchester for morning coffee for some of us at the Napper’s Mite, and others chose a Dorset Cream Tea, scones with jam and clotted cream. Guess who chose the cream teas? If you said Chandra and Dany, you’d be right. Then on to Weymouth by the sea, where kids were shrieking at the live Punch and Judy puppet show on the beach, while a little further down the cove, kids were riding donkeys on the sand. No hooves for Nicholas – he was happy with his own wheels – in his familiar stroller. Freshly caught fish and chips for lunch then the leisurely drive back through the Piddle Valley (“piddle” means small stream of running water – and there is stream that runs through the village of Piddleton) – then home for a high tea of the sausage rolls and all the side trimmings.
The wheels on the bus go round and round and they do the same on the train. We had a really fun experience on Easter Monday when we visited the Gartell Light Railway, a privately-owned model steam train railway where half-size trains are operated in exactly the same way as their full-size counterparts. You step into the carriage – and step back in time to a more leisurely age as you ride through the beautiful Blackmore Vale countryside along part of the route of the old Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway – sadly no longer in existence. Nicholas, parents and grandparents in tow, took our seats in the train while the Great–Grandparents looked on and waved from beside the track. The whistle blew, the steam puffed, the engine lurched and away we went. The wheels on the train go round and round – we all were singing – and Nicholas went into hyper animation flailing arms higher and wider than ever and bouncing on his Mom’s lap with an abundance of joy unequalled by anything I’ve seen in a long time. I guess a train deserves bigger and better than a bus. It was nothing if not a magical moment.
Today is our seventh day with my parents who reside in the charming village of Sturminster Newton, where life is a little slower-paced for us and we find time on our hands to relax and reflect. We’ve already experienced the turning of many wheels – not just those on the bus, car, train and plane, but other wheels in this amazing journey we call life. From the upstairs back window, we can gaze across the green pastures to the river and beyond to Sturminster Newton Mill – one of the only working water mills in the country where the beautifully crafted wheel keeps on turning, powered by the rush of flowing water from the River Stour. Then there are some who find ourselves spinning our wheels at times, wishing we could be more help to my very independent Dad who soldiers on at age 89 as if he were 20 years younger – maybe a little slower to complete tasks, but ever as diligent – while sadly the wheels in the mind of another, turn more slowly and less distinctly than in days gone by and we find ourselves feeling blessed beyond words that my Mom is with us still and is very capable of unexpected bursts of words so profound one ‘s head spins….like a wheel by the way!
Yesterday, we rode the bus to Poole, which borders with Bournemouth – a big seaside town on the south coast of Dorset, to have lunch with a long-term friend who recently lost his wife. He showed us around the harbour area where there was a visiting “tall ship” and recounted a story of long ago when he and my Dad were in training in the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm division at the start of WW II. One of their tasks was to climb to the top of the mast. David did so, but my Dad not being fond of heights, got halfway up, met with some sailors coming down and mingled in with them as they descended, thus escaping the mandatory crow’s nest ascent.
We returned on the last bus to Sturminster Newton – the 5:55 p.m. and a double-decker bus, Chuck and I on the upper deck for the sake of the view, Mum and Dad in the lower for ease and comfort. Our traveling companions up top were an interesting crew. Behind us at the rear, a slender young couple sported piercings and leather jackets – very friendly and animated. He was more flamboyant with winkle-picker pointed shoes and bare feet. …she more non-descript and quiet. At the very front were three giggly school girls on holiday – teenagers having a day away from the frowns of parental disapproval. They never stopped talking and giggling – at whatever – and flirted through the window at passersby. The older gent in front of us rolled a cigarette and put it in his pocket for later. My eyes darted behind us again to see a studious slender young man who was so tall he had to almost double over when he walked to his seat in a stooped fashion to avoid banging his head on the bus roof. And then there was another woman – quiet and pleasant-looking- obviously returning home from a day at work.
The journey home was to be about an hour. The doors snapped shut, the engine revved and the wheels on the bus went round and round, as we picked up and deposited passengers at intervals along the way. Fifteen minutes into the ride, the engine overheated and the bus decided it had had enough for one day and refused to move. The wheels on the bus froze. The passengers sat patiently waiting for a while and then one by one we discovered the news – we had to wait for a replacement bus. The giggly girls called home on their cell phones, the gent with the cigarette alighted from the bus and lit up, the flamboyant young man was up and down the stairs several times as if that in of itself might get the wheels turning again. No such luck – we waited patiently for the next bus to arrive and enjoyed the goings-on around us. Suddenly, the flamboyant young man burst forth into a familiar song. “The wheels on the bus go round and round ……..my head snapped around and we exchanged a smile as he realized his spontaneity had resonated with me. It was hilarious! Chuck and I laughed knowingly and then the new bus arrived and we were on our way again.
The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round,
The wheels on the bus go round and round – all over town!
The doors on the bus open and shut, open and shut ………………