What Are We Digging For, Pappa?
“What are we digging for, Pappa? Are we trying to look-find buried treasure?”
“In a way my lieveke, yes.” Henning’s voice shone rich warmth as he smiled at her words. “We’re going to find a new part of home. Do you recall when we discussed about making the house bigger?”
Amelión nodded up at her pappa, her eyes wide and her very serious face intent on his answer.
“Well, we are digging to clear out this clay so that we can begin to build new wall for our bigger-house. The clay is a very useful thing for us later on and maybe we will build an oven so that we can bake our own bread in every morning. How does that sound my little lion? To awaken to the smell of fresh bread or maybe pastries during the weekdays? And on a Sunday to some delicious smells of slowly-cooked lamb and potatoes and vegetables? And perhaps some evenings a pizza or flammekuechle. What do you think?”
“That does sound lovely, Pappa, but you said that was for later-on and before that we have to build a well?”
“A wall mimischka, not a well. And you are quite correct. I’m sorry that I got distracted with the later-on clay oven. Maybe I am hungry already, eh?! But you were right to scold me, thank you.”
The little girl studied the ground intently. “This clay is like the colour of baby-Daneel’s eyes, I think.”
“Do you know, I think you are quite right, lioness! This is a good thing because the way that child eats, he will need a good oven!”
“What’s a ‘well’, Pappa?”
“A ‘well’ is a hole that you dig deep to get water. When rain comes from the sky and rivers flow through the land, much water that you don’t even notice soaks through the earth until it finds more water under the ground. When you dig a deep hole, the underground-water collects there and you can lower down a bucket on a rope to get beautifully fresh, cool water for drinking and cooking and washing. Of course, in our city houses here we have water from a pipe that comes from far away and it is better than a well because we can rely on it every day. But when I was a little boy at your Oma’s house, we had a well and sometimes we had to be careful not to use too much.”
“But today, Amelión, we are building walls, and not wells or ovens or anything else! So let me tell you about the wall.”
“Firstly we will dig to clear out this clay which we will move to a pile over there (for the later-on oven). We will dig down to about the height of the bottom of your ear, and we will dig in a straight line for six of my steps away from the house-now, and then across to the left and back to the other edge of the house to make a box. This is called ‘the foundation’ and I think this will take all of today’s work. Then tomorrow we will start with the bricks and the mortar to build the wall.”
“Will the foundmation fill with water like a well? Shall we swim in it?”
Henning’s laugh filled the walled garden with booming sunshine and he crouched down in front of his daughter, resisting the urge to ruffle her curls as she’d begun to dislike that. “We hope not, you clever little swimmer, you! We will not dig down deep enough for that. Just deep enough to give roots to the new house, like an old oak tree, but not so deep that we strike gold!”
Amelión nodded understanding and kissed the tip of Henning’s nose.
“So what are my chores for the building and digging then, Pappa? If this is to be our house then I should like to be useful and help build it.”
“I was just about to ask you for help, my strong little bear, thank you. I will dig the clay out from the ground and into the barrow but I think that some of it will fall on the floor when I do. You will help to move the clay that falls back onto the barrow, and then you will help to lead the barrow while I push it, to move it all to the new pile. Tomorrow I think you will help to make sure my bricks are straight.”
He kissed her nose in return.
“But do you know what would be most infinitely useful right now, little muru? A lovely cup of tea and some pastries. Shall you help me make them?”
The little girl nodded and took Henning’s hand in hers. “Come, Pappa. I’ll show you where mother hides the special sweets.”
Soundtrack: Nizlopi – Fine Story
This piece inspired by an Elephant Words image originally posted at http://elephantwords.co.uk/2014/08/10/dirt-3/.