Winter had hit Esperance it seemed. It was windy, cold and wet when I arrived. Having caught a throat bug on the flight, I headed straight to the supermarket and bought a sachet of chicken soup (ugh!). Wet cement, would have been more palatable. Why chicken soup? For me, it is synonymous with nurturing. Before I was married I rented a room in a large home that belonged to a Polish widow who spoiled me thoroughly! A mere cough would galvanize her into action. I learnt to make chicken soup from her. Chicken frames, beef bones, root vegetables (carrots, parsnips, turnips), celery including leaves, brown onions with skin, bay leaf and whole peppercorns, all placed in a large pot of cold water and then brought up to the boil. Simmer, skimming the top, for several hours. Strain, season, leave in the fridge, skim any residue fat, add freshly chopped carrots and celery, broken up angel hair pasta and bring to the boil again. You’ve got a delicious, clear broth with vegetables and noodles. The young adults call it “Mum’s witches brew”. I swear by it. It cures everything, for me. I could hardly wait to get home and get the cauldron out.
The three days in Esperance were torturous. I struggled into work for a few hours and then returned to bed, my energy deplete. The boss, concerned at the way I looked, booked me in to see his doctor. Country folks have big hearts! Yes, I was too sick to work but not sick enough to crave being outside with my camera. So it was torture and I was feeling stir crazy. On the day of my return flight, I headed out to Woody Lake, new camera in hand.
I watched dawn break and fretted about the clouds. The small plane would have to punch through these, the thought making me feel sicker than I had been.As the sun broke through, I saw a line of birds above.On one side were the Cape Barren Geese, large, ungainly birds on ground, but graceful in flight.Dozens on ibis, untidy in formation, also headed somewhere else. (I obviously need more practice with my new camera!).Far across the Lake, on my right, was a flotilla of pelicans, dozens of them. On my left, a solitary white heron, posture perfect, even when alone.Thinking that was my quota for the day, I started to drive out of the reserve slowly when I saw it, sitting all plumped up, large as a hen, a common bronze wing pigeon.Preening, pretty as a peacock, in an unguarded moment, challenging the notion of “common”.Near my car, a silver eye feeding. Usually they swarm in small groups but this one was alone.Eye to eye. For a moment, it was heaven, right here on earth.
I’ve always found it difficult to explain my faith to my children. I was raised to follow it, not question it. I raised my children differently. I have raised them to question authority. So when they ask questions, I really don’t know the answers, other than having a faith base, works for me.
But I’ve been reflecting on the concept of heaven and hell. What if I was taught incorrectly. What if the message was, this was heaven. If we recognize it as such, it can be. Be it suburbia, city or outdoors. I’ve found it just takes a moment of stillness, a moment of peace to achieve this. A moment I found heals me, no matter what life throws my way.
My belief has shifted somewhat from my early childhood. I now believe, if we practice this awareness, whether you are a believer or not, heaven helps us all.
In a world of unrest, this Sunday, my prayer is one of peace.
Until next time
a dawn bird