Back in Bunbury …

The sea is pink.  It is dawn in Bunbury.  Behind me the sun is emerging, as is the Leschenault Inlet.  I am oriented and cue in to my day.  The short drive to the Marlston Waterfront is where I’m headed.  I edge out of my parking bay.  Cautiously.  There are four police patrol motorbikes crowding two bays to my left.  There is a booze bus and more patrol bikes beyond that. The city police are in town to keep people safe on their return home from the Easter break.  I make a mental note of this and keep my foot light on the pedal.

The drive is less than a minute.  At the Waterfront the sun arrived just before me.  Perfect timing.  I have photographed this area at sunrise many times before.  Across Koombana Bay is the Port.  Like celebrity and politics, Nature has the finest PR.  The Eastern sky casts the area in the best light until the glare of high noon highlights the industrial aspects of it.

A movement in the water distracts me.  I lean over the parapet.  A glide.  It disappears before my mind fully comprehends it.  Is it bird, a snake, (and with apologies to Nessie), perhaps I’ve discovered the Marlston Monster?  I track the surface of the water where the ripple is almost imperceptible.  A whoosh of big wings and seemingly from underwater, it takes flight.  I get a blurry shot.  Startled, the mate breaks through the water ceiling.  The slender, reed-like neck and head is elegant and exquisite.  It tenses for a nanosecond and then, it’s gone.  I return the next morning, hoping to experience another encounter.  And, I do.  But, in a different way.  A splash and a hiss and I catch a lone dolphin as it disappears into golden waters.  I catch my breath to tuck a wisp of flyaway magic into memory.

The Welcome Swallows chase each other, rest momentarily, and like sunflowers, turn to face the sun.  A glint of sunlight on a russet feather is what I’m hoping to catch.  After twenty minutes of persistence, as if he knew what I’m looking for, one bold swallow perches and stares me down.  He meets me halfway.  I don’t get the picture I’m chasing.  But, I get a few while cruising.  It is a compromise I accept.  Life is like this sometimes.  You get more, but it equates to far less.

My day is crowded with many unexpected delights during this trip.  The last photograph is in words.  At kindergarten 3 year olds were seated in a circle, and given a choice for morning greeting:  hello, G’day, hola, bon jour, konichiwa.  Matching country flags were tagged to the written words, presumably to teach colours.  The children choose bon jour unanimously.  Hearing the little ones struggle with unfamiliarity, try harder and be successful with prompts was a delight.  My eyes, twin suns, shone brighter as each child raised their hand to acknowledge their name being called and in turn, greeted their peers.  An occasional, tiny frustrated voice, “I can’t say it!” got a response, “you can try, just try”.  Encouragement without judgment!  I love the philosophy of this.  It is quite possible these children will not grow up to be intolerant adults who shout, “Speak in English” to people who talk in their native language in public.

My children attended child care from a young age.  I had no choice.  I have and continue to be judged by these circumstances by some whose support in those years would have been invaluable.  I do not share my journey of single motherhood with them any more because every challenge of childhood development has been hung on this sharp hook.  On rare occasions when I talk about this regret, my children are quick to point out.  They thoroughly enjoyed child care.  It was where they played with friends.  Years later, this trip confirmed it for me.  It is a place where, sometimes, you start your day with a “bon jour”.

It’s a good place to leave you …

As always,

a dawn bird

Finding Balance

 

In silence, the jasmine has rained perfume overnight.  The aroma is indescribable.  The indulgence of showers over two days has made it come alive from dormancy.  It is covered in bunches of blooms.  The buzz of bees is almost industrial level.

Depending on culture and view point, the jasmine flower has many symbolisms.  I find them interesting.  My garden, planted by the previous owner, has several different types of jasmine.  A climber that covers an arbour, a small shrub that has black berries which shed when ripe and two towering shrubs that are about ten feet tall.  The previous owner’s vision resonates with me.  Jasmine, “gift from God”, some consider is also a symbol of motherhood.  Others say it is God’s love.  These are some of my favourite symbolisms and they speak to my experience today.

Feeling the family was close to stepping  over a precipice, because of events in the last week, has been daunting.  I went to bed last night determined to find my balance again.  I leave home for a few days today.  Standing in the walkway between shrubs, I find the peace I’m searching for in its embrace.  I re-read my daughter’s texts from yesterday.  I am standing in a chapel as I receive her love.  As in Nature, life shows us a little bit of nurturing goes a long way.  Today, she nurtured me.

It is also from here I view my garden.  It is my touchstone.  There is no other corner that brings me more joy.  From this vantage point, I noticed the palms near the outdoor spa have flowers.  Flowers! on Cocos Palms!  Who knew!  Never having palms in my garden before this comes as a surprise.  This is an area I rarely visit.  It has nothing to attract me.  Until today.

The rain has been the spritzer the plants needed. There is more life in the garden than I anticipated.  Several brown honeyeaters flit around buzzing me with their aerial pursuits.  Their antics take me around the garden, as I chase that one beautiful picture.  But, I think I managed to get two.

I have found my balance.  May you do too, today.

As always,

a dawn bird

Renewal

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To those who believe, Christ was crucified and died on Good Friday.  He rose from the dead on Easter Sunday.  It is the most important and holy feast in the Christian calendar.

As a child growing up in India we were expected, by our parents, to adhere very closely to the Church’s teachings.  They were endorsed even more stringently in the home.  Feast days had certain rituals.  At Easter, my mother would order a dozen hot crossed buns from the only bakery in town during Easter week.  The baker was a Muslim man.  We suppressed our excitement when she did this.  After all, Good Friday was a solemn day.  The cook would have a day off.  No food would be cooked on the day.  We ate warm, fragrant buns for breakfast that came from the oven to the table.  In the days pre-microwave, they were cold for lunch and dinner and a drink of water helped the cinnamon flavoured dough go down.  My parents only ate breakfast as it was considered a day of ‘fasting’, reflection and penance.  There was a service at 3 pm at Church, that commemorated the passion of Christ.  The tabernacle was shrouded in purple.  Adults wore black and children wore white to signify their sense of loss and mourning.  We were expected to attend Church for Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday.  There was no music played between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  On Easter Sunday there was celebration in Church and our homes.  Christ had Risen.  The tabernacle was unveiled.  We played music.  And, at last, we could try and eat highly decorated hardened sugar Easter eggs at home, without breaking teeth.

Easter had added meaning for me.  I was born on a Good Friday.  A fact that often drew derision from others.  Children can be cruel.  So I never mentioned this to people and fortunately, it was rare for my birthday to fall on a Good Friday.  When it did, the child I was understood, it was not a day of celebration.

I have moved away from organised religion for many reasons.  But I do know I will return to attending Church again one day.  My Faith is stronger than it has ever been.  My non-attendance has had a purpose.  I have nurtured my own relationship with God.  One that has needed time to experience God my way, pray my way but more importantly, to hear what He has to say to me.  Something I did not experience in decades of group prayer.  Perhaps, this was a path I was meant to take.  For now.

I experience Easter differently to what I did as a child.  Yes, Good Friday still is a day of quiet reflection.   It is the only day of the year I will eat hot crossed buns, even though they appear in the supermarket the week after Christmas.  One year, incensed, I recall letting the supermarket manager know how much I disapproved of this practice.  He avoided my gaze in the weeks that followed.

But rather mourn the death of Christ, I experience a sense of anticipation on Good Friday.  He will rise again.  During Holy Week, through prayer, I accompany Christ during the last days of His earthly journey.  I believe for the rest of the year, He accompanies me on mine. The symbolism of Easter has guided me through life.  I know, without exception, no matter what challenge I face, something needs to ‘die’ before it is new again.  Life is a process.  I trust it.

I have shared a picture of dawn at Kooljaman (Cape Leveque), in the far north of Western Australia.  I had visited this place briefly in the year before and wanted to wake here one day.  I knew it would be beautiful.  I was right.  It did not disappoint.  Catching that first ray of light was breathtaking.  It split through the dark and shone like a searchlight.  Like all good things in life, I want to experience the moment again.

My son is joining me for breakfast today.  I will have quality time with him.  My daughter lives too far away to make the journey as she is resting.  We will fill her absence by our love for her.  Her health crisis has held a mirror to us.  Life is precious.  Life is short.  Love is immeasurable.

No matter what your belief system is, if nothing else, may you experience renewal today.  It is the elixir of life.

Until next time,

As always,

a dawn bird

Ambivalence

 

I love the word ambivalence.  It is uncertainty that makes you stop long enough to choose.   Much like a moment of decision making, be happy, or not.

I wake each morning at a moment of ambivalence.  That moment where there is ‘twilight’ before day.  Because the State of Western Australia is vast, when I travel I search for this hour on the internet, and set my alarm to it.  Somehow I always wake one minute before the alarm.  I want to be there, ringside, when it happens.  I am never disappointed.  Much like my decision, every day, to be happy.

Last night I received a weather warning and went to bed unsettled.  We were to expect a severe storm with hail and rain of up to 100 mm in some parts.  For me, a good storm is like fine wine.  Best enjoyed in company.  I dislike them when I’m on my own so I did not sleep well expecting the storm to arrive around 1 am, as promised.  Instead, I stayed up to hear the metronome of rain off the roof.  Tap.  Tap.  Tap.

As dawn breaks, it is turning into a steady stream.  The magpie larks are cheering the rain on enthusiastically.  Perhaps, I am not alone after all.  I have company to enjoy the storm.  Should it arrive.

I usually work in the early hours when I’m home.  I’ve learned not to do this as part of self-care when I travel and with good reason.  Catching dawn over Lily Creek Lagoon, Kununurra in the far north with the silhouette of the young boab tree forefront, is unforgettable.  The palm trees against sunrise at Roebuck Bay, and the rocky outcrop at Town Beach, Broome are places I rush to wake to.  The blazing horizon in the Wheatbelt is always spectacular.  The car park at the jetty in Jurien Bay mirrors delight.  The surreal calm of Esperance Bay with its historic, iconic jetty in the background is something to be experienced.  These are seductions I willingly succumb to.

Mornings are where I plan my day.  I arrive at a destination in my mind.  Today I have two days of work to catch up.  I will complete my tasks happily.  My family is well and happy.  I ask for no more.  The thought gives my feet and fingers wings.  I can achieve what I plan to do today.  May you do too.

Until next time,

As always

a dawn bird

 

 

Contemplation

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Contemplation

It has been a tumultuous return to Perth.  My daughter became unwell suddenly and had to be hospitalised.  I woke to a morning feeling numb.  The effort to suppress the worst case scenario took its toll and  left me spent and exhausted.  Formulating a prayer, starting with a simple “please” seemed impossible in thought and action.

It is often promoted during crisis or trauma, one of the best things one can do is adhere as close to routine as possible.  It corrects the imbalance.  So I reached out for my prayer book.  It is how I start my day.  This may not mean much to people who do not have the same belief system as me.  But, perhaps the story I am about to relate will resonate more widely …

About 25 years ago I worked in an office environment and had a supervisory role.  It was a time when people were experiencing repetitive strain injury (RSI).  An older woman had been ‘floating’ around the various departments while she recuperated from her injury.  As she had run out of options, I offered to take her on with limited duties.  Being older than the other staff in the office, she had a higher standard for herself and others.  This made it difficult for her to adjust, so I supported her more closely than I did the other staff.  I noticed she was struggling for a few days with a cold but she was adamant not to take any more sick leave than she had taken for her injury.  I finally convinced her just before a long weekend to have a few days off.  I gave her some magazines I had in my office to enjoy while she rested.  She called me a few days later in tears.  She had read an article in one of the magazines on breast cancer, discovered she had a symptom that was not a lump and hastened to see her doctor.  She had an ultrasound and was scheduled for an immediate mastectomy.  She returned to work some months later with a gift for me.  A small prayer book called “God Calling – a daily devotional”.  It is based on the Anglican faith.  She always credited me for “saving her life”.  Never did I get a chance to tell her, she saved mine multiple times and sometimes, every day.  I have read a page a day since it was given to me.  Despite all the years, the message is always fresh and relevant.  For example, today’s reading.

*****

Wonders Will Unfold

I am with you.  Do not fear.  Never doubt My Love and Power.  Your heights of success will be won by the daily persistent doing of what I have said.

Daily, steady persistence.  Like the wearing away of a stone by steady drops of water, so will your daily persistence wear away all the difficulties and gain success for you, and secure your help for others.

Never falter, go forward so boldly, so unafraid.  I am beside you to help and strengthen you.

Wonders have unfolded.  More still will unfold, beyond your dreams, beyond your hopes.

Say, “All is well” to everything.  All is well.

*****

The ride to the hospital with my son opened a new dialogue between us about religion and spirituality.  I have raised my children by modelling my faith rather than preaching it to them.  Anxious about his sister’s health, he reflected softly, I am dealing with the current crisis so differently than I have other crises.  I was able to share with him I have found something that works for me.

I spend a few minutes every day in contemplation.  It is a time of renewal for me.  It is healing.  Simple prayers of All is wellBe still and know I am God, I am with you – is all I need as a compass to guide me through whatever the day brings.  The camera is another aspect of my daily routine.  I find new meaning every day.  For example, I woke one morning and found the cherub contemplating a fallen leaf in front of it.  Autumn may have been the catalyst for its descent, but it shone golden when it came to rest.  Life, as in Nature, is all about perspective.

Today, I watched my daughter comfort her brother who sat with his arms wrapped around himself protectively.  “I’m okay”, she said repeatedly as she read his anxiety accurately.  They used humour to alleviate the distress.  Her youth seemed awkward and out of place in the Coronary Care Unit.  I stepped back to watch the dynamics between them.  It has taken years to get to this stage.  She has matured into being his big sister again.  I left the hospital knowing she is right.  She is really okay.  All is well.

As always,

a dawn bird

In Mining Country

The land is expansive, forbidding, warning and I wake early, as usual, to watch it emerge into something recognisable … expansive, forbidding, warning.  I drive into town for a coffee and find the natural vibrancy of the land is already stained with the distinctive yellow and orange high viz clothing of the workers in these parts.  In boom time the tide comes in and it is a sea.  For now, the tide is out and the debris behind is unmissable.

I finish work on my first day and pull into a side access road, just off the main highway.  A glittering disc has already blended into the rim of the earth.  In its wake, shawls of pastel clouds float on a horizon that defies description.  I wait patiently to catch a break in traffic and decide to do the same as the miners.  I end my day.  At the foot of the highway, just above town, the moon is Salome, dancing her dance with gossamer veils until she emerges, naked and luminous.  The miners have seen this before.  They focus on getting home.  Undeterred, she is high in the sky seducing Jupiter, burning bright.  And, I , the observer, am enchanted.

The land around here is either flat or has angry ridges.  This is mineral country.  People come here for work.  In response to their ‘colonisation’, Nature erupts like acne, with rocks strewn across the face of the landscape.  It leaves behind mottled scars that never heal.  This is country that resonates in the words of the Australian Dorothea Mackellar, ‘I love a sunburnt country’.  I do too.  The poem “My Country” speaks to my heart.  I want to cast a soothing hand over the highly subjective and divisive concept of mineral resources.

I drive some 40 km north of Karratha to Wickham.  I am running two hours behind time with only 20 minutes for lunch.  I drive further north to Point Samson for a better meal than what I can find in Wickham.  The seagull and pied magpie lark keep me company.  And, the white powder puff lilly pilly flower mesmerises in sea breeze.  I am 1500 plus km north from home.  This is another land.  Another time.  The landscape here is still untouched.  Spinifex grow among rocks, and clumps of white granite bubble like foam from red earth.  I find peace without looking for it.

I wake next morning in my hotel, flanked by glowering iron ore ridges.  The garden is an oasis.  I walk around and find the omnipresent Willy Wagtail.  He, in turn, has found himself in a puddle of gold.  The brown honeyeater catches my eye, and dipping deep for nectar, he carries me home on his wings.  A white plumed honeyeater with its exquisite tiny yellow face perches within a few feet from me.  He looks at me intently.  I am the curiosity.  I try and focus my camera.  I zoom in closer.  He stares down my elongated eye.  He is perfect.  My hands shake with delight.  I fumble.  I miss the shot.  He’s gone.  But not before leaving his memory.

On the last morning, I linger in the garden.  A yellow trumpet flower is a face with a smile.  A sudden gust of wind and it collapses on itself and smiles brighter again.  I almost say, “bless you”.  I wonder if I have just witnessed a flower sneeze.

I linger longer, a few more minutes among the scores of frangipani trees.  It is already hot and somewhat humid.  The perfume and heat transport me in thought.  The flowers remind me of Broome.  They have sunshine in their hearts.  So I borrow some to take home in mine … to share with you.

Until my next trip …

As always,

a dawn bird

 

A Road Less Travelled

It was pre-dawn when I woke this morning.  Soon the mudlarks and magpies started to sing and signal it was time to get ready for the day ahead.

I’m leaving again today for the north.  To mining country.  And, to somewhere I haven’t been before.  Previously, the thought of travel to new places in the regional areas filled me with dread.  No more!

The feeling of fear and excitement is generated in the same part of the brain.  It is perception that distinguishes one from another.  I anticipate each new experience by researching the area. Driving on country roads in Australia is hazardous.  Distance between one town and another is deceptive.  Adding another half an hour to travel time is a must.  An unsolicited travel tip from a frequent traveller.  Roads are only as safe as the drivers on them and are either straight and monotonous, or winding and with surprises.  Visitors to these parts of the world, fail to appreciate this.  On the other hand, familiar travellers on these roads, may drive with over confidence and impatience.  The vital link between city and country for all kinds of produce and material is the road trains whose enemy is deadlines.  Reflection on road statistics is always sobering.  The numbers are written in small crosses bearing names, by the side of the road.

I’ve learned how to prepare for trips.  Safety first.  Plenty of water for myself.  And, a little extra, just in case.  You can never carry too much water.  A good car that has been serviced.  Telling someone when leaving, what road I’m travelling, estimated arrival time and letting them know I have arrived, is common sense.  Good music.  A handful of organic nuts.  Some fruit.  A muesli bar.  All set.  I then shift my mind into enjoyment mode.

Long before I gained confidence in doing this, I recall a feeling of dread on one trip when I realised, in the middle of a heat wave, I had a stretch of some 70 kms of isolated road ahead of me.  I focused on the destination and missed the journey.

I have since returned to that area several times for work.  There is much to enjoy about the trip.  Flanked by big farms, yes, it is mostly an isolated drive.  When I started to take in the surroundings, I discovered a grove of gum trees, between Three Springs and Eneabba, small towns in the Midwest.   I sometimes stop and eat my lunch here, or just take a break from driving.  It is quiet and peaceful.  During one trip something broke the silence.  Not having seen cars on my journey, my senses accelerated to heightened alert.  I have always regretted watching Wolf Creek!  My eyes scanned trees a short distance away.  Did someone step on a twig?  I scanned the area again and saw no one.  I relaxed and distracted myself by examining the beautiful bark of the gum trees.  Then my eyes caught a movement and travelled higher, high up in the gum trees.  I zoomed in to find a pair of Australian ringnecks hovering over a hollow in a branch.  I clicked.  The sound ricocheted and alerted them.  In the silence of the grove, their raucous indignation at the intrusion is something I always remember vividly.  In rural and remote Australia, Nature rules.  Nature demands respects and gets it.  I cut short my break and left the ringnecks to their parenting.

On roads less travelled I am always the visitor.  Always the observer.  That’s how life is for me.  And, I would not want it any other way.

Until next time, I am off to do more observing

As always,

a dawn bird