A Storm Cell

When I arrived home after a long trip I found a text from my son inviting me to lunch.  I try not to refuse any request to join my children for a meal.  It seems to be the only quality time we get together.  Tired and unwell as I felt, I went off to meet him.

Over a beautiful Thai meal my son discloses how stressed he is feeling.  He is a manager of a retail shop and is busy with pre stocktaking KPIs as well as trying to manage his university commitments.  He has just moved houses and trying to pay the bills associated with that.  He’s due to go on a conference too which will limit his earning capacity for a few days.  It all seems too much for him.  We talked through this pressure time.  It’s the eye of the storm, I tell him.  This, too, will pass.  A burden is only a burden is it is carried alone.  We talked about who could step in to help him with of the practical issues he was confronted with.  Problem solving made easy.  He hugged me after lunch and told me he felt better after catching up with me.  The hug was a reassurance, for me, and him.

I told my son about the storm cell I went through last week.  The weather report stated a thunderstorm in the Wheatbelt.  As with weather reports, one dismisses it as a bit of rain, noise and drama especially as I left Perth with blue skies and the warmth that comes from 27 degree celsius.

Just after Cunderdin I noticed a band of black in the far distance.  Too far away to be worried by it but delighted in the rainbows that flicked through dappled light.  Then, without warning, it hit.  At 4 pm it was darker than midnight.  The noise was deafening.  The rain was a waterfall.  Thunder made my teeth rattle.  Lightening danced and bounced across the paddocks in long golden streams.  I noticed 4WDs pulled off the road.  Unable to see, even with high beams, I dared not follow them.  I feared getting bogged in a ditch.  The only object that gave any comfort was a huge road train ahead of me.  Large and as lit up as an office building at night, it kept a steady 50 km/hour.  Puddles were turning into huge pools.  This land is clay and floods easily.  I stayed as closely as I safely could to the road train and drove on dry land in it’s wake.  My heart pounded with anxiety but my hands and eyes were steady.  “Keep your eye on the road train” was my mantra.  Eighty five kilometres later, there it was, a patch of blue.  I stopped for a moment to take a picture.  Within seconds, the landscape turned from dark and angry to the mellow colours of farming sunset.  Yes, the crisis, passed.

Although the storm did not hit Merredin, not even a drop of rain, the birds seemed to be affected by it.  There were no small honeyeaters.  Next morning the black cockatoos with their splendid red tail feathers were loud.  When they left a solitary red western wattlebird appeared.  The sky was blue as I left it in Perth.  All was normal again.

Plan A was to get to Merredin safely.  Plan B got me there.

I firmly believe in teaching my children the value of Plan B.  I believe it is more important than Plan A.  It is in Plan B where resilience is nurtured, where it takes shape.  Plan B can be a saviour.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

The Grey Fantail

I’m learning that sometimes life takes you to places where you see extraordinary things in ordinary places.

I’ve spent a lot of time in the scrubland of Big Swamp over the last few months.  It is a place of delight and a highlight of my weekly trips to the south west.  I often stand quietly near the scrubland past the boardwalk.  I find the fairy blue wrens here.

Early one morning she caught my eye.  A small bird, erupting vertically above the bushes and then disappearing.  My step quickened.  The colour was neutral but I caught glimpse of a butter yellow breast.  I knew I hadn’t seen the bird before.  I scanned the bush and stood quietly.  Then she flew in.  Perched on the branch and faced the sun.  A moment that made me catch my breath.  My camera was quicker and caught her in a rare moment of quiet.  Then, poised, and as fleeting as a heart beat, she was gone.  The memory still makes me smile.

This energetic bird is difficult to see.  The markings and colour blend in beautifully with the surrounds.   To see one is to know it is there.  Then, one seeks it.  Much like truth.  Much like knowledge.  Much like life.

Until next time,

As always

a dawn bird



“Courage is knowing what not to be afraid of”, the quote is attributed to Plato.  I’ve reflected on this several times in the past few months. The new year has demanded this.

My new work schedule includes working two days a week in a multidisciplinary clinical setting.  It has taken courage to do this.  The work itself is familiar but the work environment and client population, are not.  I’ve had to learn ‘a new language’ as clinical meetings are conducted in jargon and acronyms.  After a period of adjustment, I’m settled.  I’m enjoying it.

On the face of it, I was nervous accepting the job.  It required the usual set of professional skills, in addition to having the ability to work independently as well as part of a team.  The client population is varied from young adults to elderly people.  I shift gears several times a day.  It is a youthful team of highly experienced and skilled staff who take pride in what they do, and do it well.  An outsider, I’m thrilled to be accepted as a contributing member of this team.

Driving to the south west is a lengthy minimum 2.5 hours drive.  I’ve learnt to accept this as a ‘holiday’.  I relax when I’m in the south west.  I walk the beach.  I photograph birds.  I have leisure time when I’m not working.

It is ironic I enjoy being near water as much as I do.  A non-swimmer, it is my nemesis.  So catching a female fairy blue wren peering over the bridge in Big Swamp took my breath away and then I experienced joy.  I realised she was not afraid of the wide expanse of water or the height.  She has wings.  She can fly.

Later that day I walked along the beach.  It was one of those evenings when a storm further north was making everyone restless.  In the distance, I watched him.  A new friend.  The waves roared up against the rock face.  He did not flinch.  He stood for a moment longer, watching the raging waves melt into foam again.  The waves went back to where they came from.  The sea, was a sea, again.  He knew this.  The knowledge made him unafraid.

Over forty years ago, on arriving in Australia, I peered into the vastness of opportunity.  And, I’ve had to stand strong in raging storms.

Today, there is one thing I am certain about.  I know the difference what I need to be afraid of, and what not to be afraid of.  I have knowledge.  I have wings.  I have courage.

May you be blessed with the same.

As always,

a dawn bird

At the chapel …

I have been incredibly busy and I’ve yearned to catch up on the blog.  Despite the busy schedule I’ve been fortunate to have a day’s break between trips.  This allows me to explore the area wherever I am.  The coming year promises to have a lot of travel and I’m looking forward to this aspect of my work.

I recently visited Narrogin, Western Australia, some 200 km south east of Perth.  In fact, I’ve now visited the place twice.  Time does fly!  As I had not spent over night here before I looked for things of interest.  Foxes Lair came up as one of the places to visit.  The entry into the bushland is unsealed gravel road, so I proceeded carefully.  Just as well, too.  No sooner had I entered, a large male kangaroo jumped across the road ahead of me in one leap to join his mob on the other side.  Spectacular!  They are elusive and blend perfectly into the surrounds and impossible to photograph unless they are comfortable having humans around them.  I returned to this place several times.  It is a place of enchantment.  More so I hear during spring, when it is renowned for the wildflowers.  I’m impatient to see the transformation.

I waited for sunrise one morning.  It streamed in silently through the tall mallee trees two hours after I got there.  The sun appeared half an hour later, higher up in the sky, at 8:40 am, peering out, a half-open, sleepy eye.  This is country living!  Even, Mother Nature takes it slow and easy!  I watch the light illuminate the world around me.  The magnificent gum trees.  The vivid bark, once used as a tanning agent, stripped bare off the mallee trees.  The delicate buds of the acacia.

I take it all in.  A sensory feast.

My favourite prayer comes to mind, “The morning is my chapel.  It is where I seek and find Thee”.

I’m off again, and again, and again ….

Until next time,

As always,

a dawn bird