The last day of autumn

It’s the last day of autumn.  Tomorrow is winter.  What a difference a day makes.  (Truth be told, I’m already looking forward to spring).  As I write this late at night, rain is dripping steadily outside.

I woke this morning to a horizon lashed with dark clouds.  Winter is dark and wet in Perth, so I trawled through my photographs for colour and flicked these photographs through my screensaver.  I needed the warmth of far away moments while I wrote reports in seclusion.  I recalled …

IMG_2582.jpgThe humble ground cover roadside in Bunbury that glowed like a star.

IMG_0939-2.jpgThe beauty of water lilies in a billabong in the Kimberley.  I will return.

DSCN9646.jpgThe solitude of sunrise at Esperance Bay.

IMG_2621.jpgI found this banksia in Esperance when I went for a walk one evening.  It was getting dark so I did not take my camera.  I was deep in thought trying to process an eventful day.  Then I saw it, candle like, low in the scrub.  I kept walking but somehow felt drawn to it.  Unusual because they bloom everywhere.  Compelled, I returned to it.  I leaned into it with my phone.

IMG_2865.jpgMy eyes lit up.  I saw perfection.

These were ‘stop and smell the roses’ moments.  I’ve learned to respond to it immediately.  The joy it brings is visceral.

Those who love photography, will know what I mean!

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird



Storms make us stronger

via Daily Prompt: Archaic

The concept of prayer and faith is a difficult one to describe to anyone who does not share the same thinking.  I know I have tried and failed miserably because faith and prayer is inextricably linked to who I am as a person.  It comes to me without thinking.  It is my go to place.  I have never needed this more than in the last 48 hours.

I was headed out of Perth on a day when a massive storm was predicted.  I was headed east and know the road well.  I had previously driven the highway during a storm and for a stretch of 60-80 kms watched the tall gum trees that flanked the highway, dance above my car.  I was watchful and tense.  The winds this time were stronger at 125 km/hour.  The rain expected to be torrential.  It was still when I was ready to leave the metro area.  The air heavy, stifling, waiting to implode.  I went back into my home and grabbed some summer clothes, thinking it would be hotter than I thought.  I was wrong!  At night the air in this open land was cold and biting.

Once I left the city behind I did not anticipate the journey ahead.  The paddocks were bare, ready for seeding.  The beige pastures dry.  The beige now in the air.  Visibility was negligible.  The folks in the region told me it was the worst dust storm in their memory.DSCN7122.jpgI turned off my air con and coughed my way through the next 160 km.  When I arrived I could barely speak, my mouth and teeth gritty with dust. The next day I headed further north east.  I had another two hours of driving.DSCN7151.jpgI could see the dark clouds build up on the horizon.  I tried to beat the rain.  It arrived before I could step it up.  The rain was like a powerful waterfall.  The wipers could not keep up.  The road started to flood in places and my car bounced off sheets of water.  I could not see a suitable place to stop and park.  I was doing between 50-70 km/hour in a 110 km/hr zone.  The stress of someone coming up behind me and not seeing me in time was ever present.  The only thing I could do was hold my nerve and pray, “keep me safe”. DSCN7147I got to a tiny hamlet called Latham when the sun broke through and it felt like I was on another planet.  The birds came out tweeting.  The wedge tailed eagle.  Pink Galahs.  Tiny honeyeaters.  And, I even saw a Maleefowl saunter back into the bush. The difference in the weather was unbelievable.

I was running late and could not stop to take any pictures.  This area is renowned for wildflowers.  I know I’ll be back in spring.DSCN7152.jpgAnother day of criss crossing towns and then I was finally on my journey home.  This time I indulged in a little rubber necking.  There was no one else on the road for one stretch of 51 kms, so I stopped and took this picture.  One of the most meditative drives I’ve had in a while.

I could see the storm clouds building again.  Having experienced the worst the previous day, these ominous clouds could not damper my spirit.  There was an innate confidence.  I would be safe.

It may be old fashioned to think this way, but prayer works for me.  It’s my hard wiring.  It makes all things possible in my life, or perhaps, I believe it does.  And, as long as I don’t impose it on others, I see no harm in it.  Nor does it harm me.  (I’ll have to remember this tomorrow when I fly out in predicted bad weather!)

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird


A positive assumption

via Daily Prompt: Assumption

If I were to pinpoint a single point of reference in my life, it would have to be discovering the joy of photography.  With all the travel I do, sometimes to the same places several times a month, life would have been tedious.  But my thinking has changed.  My assumption, there will be something beautiful to photograph, quickens my heart beat, no matter how busy I am.  This thought alone, lightens the load.

I’ve been to Carnarvon in the Midwest, our Coral Coast, several times.  It is a small coastal town, about 900 kms north of Perth with a population of under 5000 people.  The flight is on a twin propeller plane.  Slow and noisy.  Known for the seafood, especially prawns, fruit (mango, watermelon, rockmelon) and vegetables (tomatoes are delicious), the area feeds the city and beyond.  There’s not much to do here.  Blink and you’ve missed the main street, but being strategically placed between sea and river, the business of produce thrives.

I’ve arrived here on a Sunday on more than one occasion.  Not the best day in a town that is quiet during the week.  At 4.30 pm there were no cafes open and I was hungry, my only meal of the day being breakfast, now long lost to memory.  The supermarket would have to do I thought.  I walked past a group of young backpackers standing and talking just inside the store.  If I closed my eyes and listened, I would have been in France.  The incongruity of being in Carnarvon on a Sunday afternoon listening to French being spoken as it should, made my eyes shine with the delight of it all.  The group were hanging around for closing time when food is marked down, and perhaps ready to pack up and head further north.  Once closing was announced, they shopped like professionals, knowing just what and how much they needed.  I was impressed with the ingenuity of twenty somethings.  A life skill learned from life.

My routine here usually runs the same.  Apart from work, at dusk and sunrise I head to Small Boat Harbour just behind my hotel.

DSCN7073.jpgThere’s nothing like a sunset across the water here.  I caught a brief glimpse, just a memory of what I know to be here.DSCN7076.jpgThe colours then muted down as it darkened.DSCN7114.jpgThen there was night sky.DSCN7093.jpgAs the light faded I found a wader perched on a rock, like me, watching the schools of fish, some that jump out of the water with a splash.  River mullet, I’m told.  I’ve seen them dance upright across the surface of the water, flapping madly.DSCN7105.jpgThe fish were too quick and perhaps, the school too big, so the wader had to be content among the molluscs.  It was as still and silent, as me.DSCN7120.jpgOne last pic before nightfall, and I’m happy, satiated even, with the few moments I had with my camera.

See!  Life can be this simple!  If we only let it be.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird



Finding meaning

via Daily Prompt: Complication

“You have the freedom to be yourself, your true self, here and now, and nothing can stand in your way.” – Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull


Some see seagulls.  I look for them.  And, when I find them, and that’s not hard to do wherever I am, I flick through the pages of the book ‘Jonathan Livingstone Seagull’.  The quote above has never been more meaningful as it is today.

Decades ago, soon after my separation and while at university, I struck up the most unlikely friendship with a fellow classmate.  I was a mother from the suburbs, struggling to project an air of stability for my very young children, when my world had fallen apart.  He would have been a good 15 years younger than me, long blond hair (because he could not afford to cut it) and straight from the pages of the 1960s hippie era when he talked about love and freedom of choice.  He had an air about him.  He cared deeply for things that matter.  When around him, I took deep breaths.

One afternoon we met in the cafeteria.  We bought a meagre lunch and shared it between the two of us.  Still hurting I disclosed to him how overwhelming life was and how I wished I found someone who could fill the void.  I had learned to trust him when I bounced off him.  So I waited while he chewed silently and nodded his head thoughtfully while looking into the distance.  He then held my gaze while responding, “And, when you do, run like hell in the opposite direction!”  I was so confused!  He then went on to explain.  The universe had given me an opportunity to enrich my life.  The void was filled with opportunities.  I had never been whole before but it was attainable and when I achieved it, if anyone entered my life their presence would enhance it.  If and when they left, there would be no void.  I would still be whole.  Once I grasped what he meant, I found what I had, was infinitely more than what I did not.

It is dark as I write.  The kookaburras are suppressing a chortle in their throats somewhere nearby.  I love this moment when I’m home.  I am whole.

I leave in a few hours to pick up a new work commitment in the north.  I’m so looking forward to the opportunity.  Some may regard this as another complication to work-life balance.  Not me.

I’ve learnt to embrace the unknown. It epitomizes where I have always wanted to be.  I am who I want to be.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird




Full circle

via Daily Prompt: Forest

Encouraged in childhood to achieve academically, my parents would tell me to focus on the bigger picture and not get caught up with minutae.  I followed their advice into adulthood.  I saw the forest and lived among invisible trees.

Not any more.

I take time each day to see the smaller things.  They don’t obstruct my goals or views.  If anything, they enhance my thinking and bring joy to my day.  I’ll share some pictures that I’ve shared before to illustrate what I mean.

On a cold and rainy morning in Esperance I headed out to Lake Warden where the sunrise over it is beautiful.  I had about a minute before the sun rose when a ute approached me on a narrow country road.  His speed generated a flurry between the cars and forced me to slow down.  I was annoyed at having lost a few precious seconds when I glanced out the car window.  The delight at what I saw made me switch off the engine and forget about the sunrise.

DSCN8342On the road beside me were several inland thornbill, given their size, they are also affectionately known as ‘button bums’.  Had I not been forced to slow down, I would have missed this beautiful moment of shared joy.DSCN8344.jpgThe rain had left a puddle in the middle of the road.  The birds were thoroughly enjoying a communal bath, undeterred by my presence.DSCN8353.jpgSome immersed themselves fully and then shook themselves fluffy.  DSCN8357.jpgOthers walked away from the puddle with confidence and returned.  Dip, fluff, repeat.DSCN8366.jpgThere was one that tried not to get wet and stretched tiny legs to stay upright.DSCN8367.jpgThe result was inevitable!DSCN8349.jpgWhile another took a break and found me the curiosity.  And, that was just fine with me!

There are times I feel I am raising the child in me to be more aware.  It is in those moments I feel like that is the intention of the reach.  If it is and makes a difference, then I have come full circle.  It is a happier place to be.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird







Bushwalking, in autumn

via Daily Prompt: Laughter

It was 7 degrees Celsius in Narrogin, over 200 km south east of home.  I made a cup of coffee in the dark, pulled the curtains wide open and propped myself up in bed.  Sunrise was expected at 6:52 am.  It was worth the wait.

I wasn’t alone.  There was laughter high in the gum trees in nearby Foxes Lair.  The kookaburras were awake too.  I sat in bed and tried to identify the various birdsong.  The noisy Black Carnaby cockatoos, ringneck parrots, New Holland honeyeaters.  I’m getting good at this!  Or maybe the darkness heightened my listening skills.

DSCN7120The view from my hotel bed is always spectacular.  As soon as it was light enough I scrambled out of bed, bed hair tucked under beanie and headed to the Lair.

DSCN7195.jpgThe fog hung low as I walked alone, taking in every sensory experience.  The crunch of my footsteps, gum nuts showering around me (courtesy of the parrots), the birdsong, the honking of the Australian shelducks that chased each other above the trees, the smell of gum trees.  DSCN7168.jpgThere were boughs of delicate golden wattle, breaking up the grey green of winter that’s only weeks away.DSCN7173.jpgLichen painted limbs strewn carelessly.DSCN7163.jpgWhile other limbs were decorated with frills.DSCN7147.jpgThe occasional splash of colour at my feet.DSCN7200.jpgThen the parrot caught my eye.  It was probably watching me long before I saw it!  It was silent and blended in beautifully with foliage.DSCN7194Soon followed by a shower of red robins that descended on the trees and shrubs around me.  Curious about my presence, they were gorgeous!DSCN7237.jpgAs I was leaving I met a local who knows the reserve well.  He told me he found a bunny orchid the day before, so I followed him like a child.DSCN7251.jpgThe bunny orchids on the stem were tiny.  Each flower the size of a child’s pinky nail.  Exquisite!  My delight was so obvious, he left me alone with them!

Bush walking has taught me a valuable lesson:  Expect to find something beautiful.  It has become my mantra every day.

I know by living this kind of thinking, be it bush or city, my expectations are never set too high.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird








Power of people

via Daily Prompt: Mentor

The word mentor is an interesting one.  It embodies learning, sharing, guidance, trust between two parties.  It is a powerful interaction that can enhance and maintain change.  There are different types of mentoring roles but all, essentially, have the same foundation.  This is how I see them.

It is a professional requirement for me to have peer supervision.  I meet with someone regularly.  I knew her when I was a student.  I trusted her immediately.  I felt ‘safe’ when guided by her.  It is mentoring at its best.

My adult son has returned to university.  He hopes to work in a clinical setting.  We meet regularly to discuss his assignments and practica experiences.  I’ve noticed his comments and views have changed from student to clinician, over the months.  The dynamics between us over breakfast, too, has changed from mother and son, to people who work with vulnerable people.  Without realising it, our chats have become a mentoring session.  He’s learning how to be.  The experience has been reciprocal.

They say education is knowledge.  It does not always come from books.  We learn so much from each other.  Sometimes this is good but not always.  For example, in the workplace, take collegial relationships.  People can take knowledge gleaned over a coffee and use it as a weapon in their attempts to score a point or undermine through the process of ‘gaslighting’.  This speaks of their own psychopathy and says nothing about the other.  Then there is the collegiality of blogging.  A community of powerful agents of change, but one needs to learn how to be discerning, about what to take on board.

In the animal world it is called imprinting.  When the young learns to trust another animal, person or object.  Ducks do this so well!  I’ve seen this mother cross my path without a backward glance.  She knew her ducklings would follow her to safety.

So why is it so easy for humans to misread signals and messages?

DSCN9789.jpgI learn from educational programs.  Is sugar good for you?  The insidious nature of it should stop us in our tracks.  If we stopped supporting the fast food industry, will we be healthier?  Can we reduce the use of plastics?  How do we combat pollution?  For me, these TV shows have become an unwitting mentor to living life with meaning.  I recall years ago when someone stood up and was counted.  We now have labels that identifies food from source countries.  The ones that say ‘some imported ingredients’, the percentage never identified, I leave those well alone.  I don’t see any reason for fresh food to be transported from across the world, when it is available a few kms down the road.

My dream is one day these programs that educate us about what we put into our body impacts it, and what we put out in the world impacts the environment, is promoted as vigorously as a catfight on a cooking show or disagreements among music judges.

I have hope though.

The message of big corporation has been loud and sexy.  As our lives got busier, they promoted convenience and speed.  We lost our way, somehow.  But, there is a path back.  We reclaim power.  For example, when technology was being promoted as ‘stay connected’ I had a simple rule for my family at meal time.  If they touched their mobile phone, even to photograph, they paid the whole dinner bill.  It applied to their dates too.  It worked a charm!  We had conversations at dinner.  We stayed connected without a phone in sight.  This tradition continues to date.

The key is to learn to fine tune our ear towards messages that matter.  Using the f word as noun, pronoun, adjective, verb and adverb, is not communication.  There is no message within it.  It is the glitter of celebrity that no longer shines.

Without knowing the word, my mother promoted mindful living and making conscious choices.  It was imprinting.  I did it instinctively.  Then I lost my way.  Blame it on the din of loud messages.  Now I’ve come full circle.

Returning to living mindfully has had incidental benefits.  I hear messages more clearly and importantly, I understand the intent of the other.

I’m living life more fully.  My wish is that you do too.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird




Change, for the better?

via Daily Prompt: Tide

I’ve written posts and shared photographs of Broome, Western Australia before.  Some 2000+ kms north of Perth it is renowned for the rugged coastal beauty.  Sipping a cold one at Cable Beach at sunset watching tourists enjoying a camel ride is the norm in the evenings.  Few venture further.  The Kimberley region in Western Australia is beautiful, vast country, but expensive to visit and/or explore.

Some 200+ kms further north of Broome is Cape Leveque, Cygnet Bay, Lombadina, Beagle Bay and other beautiful coastal places.  To access them is part of the beauty of the region.DSCN6084.jpgThe road out of Broome is initially a sealed one.  Then comes the fun part!DSCN6068.jpgAbout 90kms of unsealed road.  I’ve driven up here with others on four occasions in different weather conditions.  It has always been an adventure!DSCN6080.jpgSometimes one drives through deeply gutted and mousse like pindan (red) earth.DSCN6056.jpgAt other times one eats dust.DSCN6081.jpgThe road etiquette is pretty easy to adapt to.  Ride the ridge to allow oncoming traffic pass safely.

I love this journey!  Although the area is gorgeous, it is the trip that is a highlight for me.  The gamble whether it will be dusty and bone crunching due to corrugation or dicey because of the damp, just adds to the enjoyment.

After years of political promises, the sealing of the road has begun.  There are clearly two camps because of this.  Those who see accessibility improving the lives of people in remote communities and those who fear the impact of increased tourism. The argument that folks are stranded in the wet season, as the only way in and out for supplies or emergency is small plane holds some ground.

To write this post and reminisce with affection, I’m wearing my heart on my sleeve.  But I do know to embrace change is a double edged sword.  It almost always comes at a price.

I mentioned in my previous post about using a credit card less frequently.  It was prompted by my early experiences of working in Australia in the 1970s.  One of my first jobs was working in a major hospital.  I recall every fortnight two men would walk down the corridors, one holding a small metal box, the other, a key.  They would visit department after department handing out out fortnightly pay packets in notes and coins.  I would go home that evening to my tiny bedsit in the city, write out my budget for the fortnight (rent, utilities, food, personal expenses, savings and holiday savings) and live within the framework of my means.  I had no debts. And, I went on overseas holidays twice a year.

Then came the transition of salary going into our bank accounts.  The men, no doubt, lost their jobs or were deployed elsewhere.  Soon after came the ATMs and the restrictions of over the counter banking.  Where have all those rows of bank tellers gone?  Our unique signature has given way to PayWave or passwords.  Soon, cash will be gone, too.

Before it does … I’m going back to my earlier framework of living with cash.  I’m claiming back my power.

This is how I choose to ride out the tide of change.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird



Switched on

via Daily Prompt: Abrupt

Last night I watched a documentary on Elsa the Lioness.  I was given the first edition of the book Born Free as a young girl.  I was captivated by the story and fell madly in love with George Adamson! Then I discovered Jacques Cousteau.  When kids were talking about favourite people they would have around for dinner, and were dreaming about rock stars, my interests were conservationists.  I admired their spirit of adventure.  Of living life differently.  Their fierce commitment to Nature.  They were conservationists, but I didn’t know the meaning of the word.  Until now.

I’m now switched on.  The change in thinking was abrupt.  I’ve come to realise we don’t have to hear the message in ad breaks.  We live the message.  Like Adamson and Cousteau did.

On a recent trip to Jurien Bay I woke to watch dawn break at the beach and took it all in.  The message of plastic pollution of the oceans foremost in memory.  I wondered how I could make a difference.  Could I live more mindfully?  I realised, shopping is all about planning.  When I went home I packed a few shopping bags in the boot and was ready for another grocery trip.  I took only two cooler bags to the store and placed my shopping straight into them.  To my surprise, I was shopping mindfully.  I bought only what I could fit in.  The impulse buying was placed back on the shelf.  I checked out and found I had spent way less money than I normally would for a weekly trip.  Importantly, I had not used any single use plastic bags.  The change was so easy to put into practice.

I wondered if I could try the same strategy with money.  I use my credit card all the same and rarely use cash.  It has been a helpful strategy for business accounts.  But when reflecting on it, I realised, I have to keep receipts whether I use cash or credit card.  So why not use cash?  Now when I travel, I take just what I need in cash with my card as back up.  What a difference I’ve made in a month!  Money is the tangible proof of hard work.  When one has cash in hand, one builds a relationship with it and makes it hard to part from it.  The credit card is impersonal.

My only regret today is that I wish my learning took place earlier.  DSCN9838.jpgI often despair watching children with hand held devices.  Immersed in technology, they miss the world around them.  So when I saw a young boy wetting a line on the beach, Pacific Seagull by his side, it made me smile.  He could have been sitting in the hotel room playing video games.  But he was out here at dawn, because he enjoyed the experience of what he was doing.  He didn’t catch any fish.  It was just the enjoyment of anticipation and being near the sea.  He had a relationship with the environment.  There is hope ….DSCN9844.jpgI look at the ocean differently.  The responsibility for keeping it pristine lies with each of us.  The answer to a complex question ‘What can I do?” lies within the question.  It starts with “I …”.DSCN9861.jpgI look at the debris left behind by the tides each day.  It’s the kind that makes me happy. Like watching a child fishing at the beach, it also makes me hopeful.

The debris left by the human tide will one day, change.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird


Night of the full moon

via Daily Prompt: Sleeve

With determination I completed all tasks on my list before setting off to Merredin, a small farming town to the East of Perth and over 280 km from home.  My productivity came at a cost.  I got to Northam filled with apprehension.  I still had another 160+ km to go with the sun setting within a few minutes.  I tried to quell my anxiety.  I hate driving this road in day light, let alone at dusk and dark.  Deep in the Eastern Wheatbelt, the road kill is kangaroo and fox.

I was alone on the road.  Although a major transport highway for sheep and grain, there are no street lights.  Occasionally a road train, lit up like Christmas would whoompf past me, in the opposite direction.  Then it was silent.  I was alone again.

In those few minutes between dusk and dark, the sun set behind me, painting the sky with broad strokes in vivid colours.  In front of me, just beyond a ridge, a pale gold disc rose majestically beyond it, bigger than anything I’ve seen in the city.  The full moon rose silently against a background still blue and varying shades of pink.  Like a watchful eye.   It then rested on the black bitumen way ahead of me, for a few minutes.  In the dark that sequin seduced my eye.  An Instagram moment if ever there was one.  Unfiltered.  (un)Photoshopped.  All fears shelved for a few minutes but I could not find the courage to get out of my car and take a picture.  Despite the surreal beauty of the moment, the isolation was overwhelming.  DSCN7076.jpgBetween Kellerberrin and Merredin is a parking spot where I usually stop for a few minutes to stretch my legs.  The solitary trees in the paddock and the wide open horizon, is a familiar sight.  It was dark every where, yet, the horizon was still bright.DSCN7084.jpgI left Merredin a couple of days later, with the silo paintings on my right.   They are a welcome sight by day break, but invisible by night.DSCN7089.jpgIn the dark I knew I had familiar landscape around me.  The water pipe, for one.  It carries water from Perth to the Goldfields.  It was commissioned in the late 1800s and completed in early 1900.  It is the lifeline of the people of the Goldfields.  I cannot imagine the hardship endured by the workers who constructed this for hundreds of kilometers in harsh country.  A reminder, life for me may seem challenging at times, but in comparison, I have nothing meaningful to complain about.DSCN7091.jpgAt night the air was acrid as I drove through tiny towns with streets empty of people.  Bakers Hill, Clackline, Meckering, Cunderdin, Tammin, Kellerberrin.  At times a distant glow kept me focused.  The farmers were burning paddocks in readiness for seed.  I’m impatient for winter to see some of these beige paddocks turn gold with canola.

I have never driven in regional areas at night and had it not been for circumstances, would never have thought I could.  But Nature had a trick up her sleeve that night.

With the seduction of another drive under a full moon, I just might!

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird