We had a busy day, The Girl and I; we tended the garden, I made sprouts for the week, we baked and ground eggshells to put back into the chickens’ food, we read and cleaned, we played, and I showed her how to make egg drop soup.
We found a bonanza of mushrooms on our land – mostly ink caps, like the others we had discovered. I sautéed some for lunches this week, and tried to dry the rest. Drying mushrooms should be a simple process – oven at 50 or so degrees Centigrade, slightly open door and a few hours of waiting. In the case of our mushrooms, however, they collapsed into a black goo. I suspect that ink caps, with their high water content, are particularly unsuited to drying.
Finally The Girl worked on her homework – her class is studying Italy, and she opted to write about Italian composers. Her teacher gave her Verdi and Puccini, so I helped her look them up in a book and explained how you sift out the most important information.
You could mention, I said, that Puccini wasn’t planning to write music until he was a teenager and went to a performance of Aida – by Verdi, and realised he wanted to write operas too. It changed his life, I said. She seemed reluctant.
You could mention that Verdi’s opera Il Trovatore was the opera that the Marx Brothers were disrupting in Night at the Opera, I said. It’s one of your favourite films.
“None of my classmates know who they are,” she said. “I watch those films with you, but they wouldn’t understand.”
You could say that in 19th century Italy, operas were the music everyone listened to – people wanted to get tickets to the latest opera like they wanted tickets to see Katy Perry or Adele, and everyone was humming the songs in the streets afterwards.
“I think they'd laugh at the comparison,” she said. “You know how most grownups don’t remember what it was like to be a kid?”
Is that what I’m like? I asked. “You're not like that,” she said, “But I don’t think you understand being a modern kid.”
Not always, I said, but I have you to explain it.