When one helps another ….

DSCN9526.jpgOne of my favourite proverbs is “When one helps another, both are stronger”.  I believe it is a German proverb.  The picture above illustrates this.  I’m told these birds bead together, wing to wing, to appear larger to raptors.  If birds help each other, have humans lost the art and science of helping?  I don’t believe so.  The following story gives me hope.

I work in what is broadly called ‘the helping profession’ but there are strict parameters to what I do and how.  Increasingly, I’ve come to the realisation, anyone who is in the business of providing a service to another, is in the helping profession.  One does not need years of study and a degree to do this.  Working in rural and at times remote places, I no longer am anxious about getting ill.  I have had three episodes of illness in all the years I’ve travelled and in each instance, people have shown nothing but kindness.  Today let me share something with you …

A few months ago I disembarked from a horrendous flight.  It was winter, the winds were strong and the plane small.  I could not choose my seat and was near the engine.  I sat curled up, recoiling from the noise and the storm for two hours.  As I came down the stairs, I felt a breathtaking pain in my arm.  I dismissed it and when the luggage arrived in the shed (yes, it was that kind of airport!), I bent down to pick up my case and found I had no strength in my arm.  The pain, too, was still there.  I knew it was not a heart attack.  I knew it was not a stroke either.  I stayed calm and went looking for a pharmacy for good ole Deep Heat and paracetamol.

Too unwell to eat, I went to bed early and woke around 1 am.  Deep Heat had not taken the edge off the pain.  The pain, now making me ill.  I called the emergency health line, the nurse triaged me and then directed my call to a doctor.  We talked at length and he was satisfied, I didn’t need an ambulance but he suggested I see a doctor the next day.  To see a GP these days in the city, one has to predict illness about four days in advance.  I also know an appointment in rural areas where services are limited, can be weeks.  I didn’t like my chances.

Morning came, I found a doctor not two minutes from my hotel.  I rang their number at 7:30 am just checking to see if they were operational.  To my surprise they open the clinic early morning.  The clinic reception staff listened to distress and advised me she would fit me in immediately.  The next challenge was getting dressed.  Impossible!  To my utter surprise I had a swelling over my shoulder and collar bone.  That explains it, I thought, I’ve broken my collar bone.  I threw a shawl over my top and headed for the doctor.  Easier said than done!

The doctor’s rooms were impossible to find.  Often in rural areas, people describe an address because replacing street signs seems redundant.  People know where everyone lives and everything is.  After half an hour of driving in extreme distress, I finally realised when the receptionist said “in front of the shops”, she meant adjacent.  This is only after she volunteered to stand outside and wave me down the main street.  I got out of my car, and walked towards her.  She saw my distress and gently put her arms around me and guided me in.  She ushered me into a room and away from a waiting room filled with patients.  As I tried to compose myself we chatted briefly and I disclosed I was visiting for work.  She sat holding my hand and said firmly, “You have no one in town.  I’m not leaving you alone”.  She and I knew, she didn’t have to do this, but she did.

The sequelae to this event was a non-event.  X-rays, hospital visit etc came up nil.  I later found out I had an extraordinarily severe muscle cramp, probably from being tense flying in a storm!

That event is nearly forgotten.  I have flown many times since then, and recently found myself back in the town again.  I bought some flowers and a box of chocolates and requested to see the lady who helped me.  She was seated in the back of the office.  I didn’t think she would recognise or remember me, but she did.  I gave her what I had brought with me and she protested, “no, no, I was just doing my job”.  I told her, “Maybe, but you did your job with kindness”.

As I head out yet again with just an overnight stay at home, I’m packing this story with me.  The woman’s words of kindness, a reminder, we are never alone.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

 

The man, with the red dog

The road was empty.  I let my thoughts drift.  This feeling of solitude found in long distance driving, is something I really enjoy.  This time I took a side road off the main highway, one turn off too early.  It got me to my destination but via a small hamlet I only knew by signage.

I had left home early morning.  Too early for breakfast.  I craved a decent cup of coffee.  I slowed down and coasted into one of those ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ main streets.  A light breeze lifted the faded rainbow plastic strips from the only open doorway I could see, and waved me in.  Indoors, there were a few chairs and tables, newspaper and magazines, groceries, a typical ‘only shop in town’.

We pulled up to the doorway together, crunching gravel under the wheels, me in my city sedan, he in a dusty ute.  The streets are empty.  I’m aware I’m alone.  I have no idea what or who is inside the shop.  So I bide my time.  He whistles, and the red dog jumps off the tray.  The dog knows this routine well.  His owner bends down at the tap jutting off the side of the building and lets some water gush into a plastic ice cream container.  His actions speak louder than words.  He straightens up and sees me unwind my coiled self from the car.  A flick of his thumb and index finger moves his hat imperceptibly further back and a gruff “g’day!” is enough to make a stranger feel welcomed.  I part the plastic strips and walk in, he does the same after giving the ruddy coat of his slurping mate a vigorous rub.

I sit at the table furthest away from the counter.  The choice is one of three and the difference I gained in privacy, was barely a few feet.  My coffee arrives.  There is no barista in this town.  It’s instant coffee or nothing.  I compromise.  My body is craving it.  He sits at the other table.  He’s been working in the sun, so he downs a Gatorade.  He and the owner are talking harvest.  The talk between them flowing with ease.  My break over, I gather my laptop and belongings.  I hear a rumble.  It comes slowly from the tip of his boots, travels the length of his lean frame until his body releases it with a low growl that surprises all three of us.  He thumps his chest and says, “pardon me” to no one in particular.  And, in the silence that follows, both men look at and to me, for the next move.  I default to city me.  I feign busy and pack my things away.  I’m polite in my farewell, our eyes meeting long enough for him to see my smile in them.  His look of surprise dissolves into furrows, and among them, I find his.

Dusty ute, red dog.  What’s not to love?  I knew instinctively.  I would memorialize the meeting in words one day.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

 

Mother Boab and me …

Last night I was disciplined.  I went to bed at a decent hour.  That’s the last memory I have.  I needed to crash.

The first sounds I heard this morning were the excited screeches of lorikeets, the sound synonymous with trees, so I rummaged through my photographs and returned to the mornings in Kununurra.

DSCN9330.jpgI usually stay opposite the tree park.  It is one of my favourite places to walk in the mornings.  I stride across, purposefully, for the massive boab, the matriarch.DSCN9274This time I found, like me, a butterfly needed a soft place to land.DSCN9237.jpgHigh above, there were a few boab flowers coming into bloom.  They are exquisite.  Thick, creamy petals that fold over like heavy taffeta …DSCN9406… the inside, emits the softest pearly light.DSCN9216.jpgI wandered around for hours, the sense of oneness under these trees consolidated a promise to return.DSCN9280.jpgBeyond the green is Lily Creek Lagoon where this tiny bird held me captive.  DSCN9308On this morning, Mother Boab taught me, nothing says new life more eloquently, than a sprig of green on gnarly, old limbs.  So here I am, typing my post, experiencing life differently.

I’m off again in a few hours.  I’ll be flying over Shark Bay, where the waters will be bluer than the sky today.  The thought makes my eyes shine.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

 

 

 

 

A week of contrasts

I’ve just returned from the Wheatbelt and the South West.  I had forgotten to take my files with me to Margaret River, so I could do nothing but relax.  Perhaps fate had a hand in this.  I’ve driven over 1000 kms in a few days.  I needed the rest so I listened to my body and did just that.

Being in the South West means I can shop and enjoy the experience.  In Bunbury, I love Eshe, a boutique.  The owner only keeps select jewellery, bags and scarves.  It’s a visual feast for me.  I rarely shop in Perth where I consider major retail shops are visual pollution.  Yes, perception plays a part in my bias!  I find special occasions a nightmare.  But I love to shop in country towns especially Margaret River with fine chocolates, fine wines, beautiful olive oil, cheeses and other quality local produce.  I returned home with every spare inch of my car boot crammed with goodies.  My Christmas shopping done.

Margaret River is our premier wine growing region.  It has changed so much over the years.  Once a sleepy surfing hamlet, it is now thriving with suburbs.  I’m not sure how I feel about this.  I drove around the small town and found a beautiful grove of trees at the end of a dead end street.  To my dismay there was also a sign advertising blocks of land for sale.  That beautiful timber is due to be felled.  I drove away from the trees, already feeling a sense of loss.

One of the places I love visiting when I’m in this part of Western Australia, is The Berry Farm, just a few kilometres outside Margaret River.  The cafe has a lovely old English garden and the birds are everywhere.  I enjoyed a pot of tea, with scones, strawberry jam and cream.  A lusciously wicked treat while my eyes feasted on my surrounds.DSCN9517.jpgI sat in the shadow of roses, their heads heavy with petalled beauty.DSCN9504.jpgThe cafe garden was a world apart from the Wheatbelt, where I sat roadside to eat a sandwich in the car and watch this quintessentially rural scene.

It has been a week of contrasts.  In Margaret River this morning I woke at 4:26 am to the sound of laughter from the lone kookaburra high in the gum tree.  Without my files, I had no reason to rise, so I snuggled deeper into bed and smiled at my reality.

This is life, as I know it.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

 

 

 

Happy birthday, Dr T

Today the father of my children celebrates a special birthday.  Our children and his partner had been planning a celebration for months.  The children went to Bunbury for a special surprise lunch on the weekend.  People from his old workplace and other friends were there too, including his oldest son and his two children.  It was the first time our son met his half brother, their sister instrumental in this memorable moment.  This is something I dreamed about, for the three siblings, to generate a sense of family.

My son also wanted to do something special.  He told his father to memoralise the event, he thought the two of them should build a piece of furniture, so he had something he could cherish.  His father came to Perth earlier this week, they built a game table from scratch.  It is the second piece of furniture they have made together.  Over lunch yesterday I listened to our son talk about the memory of the experience.  His father is due for major surgery early next year.  Our son, it would appear, has taken over the role of main support person.  It made all the past hurt insignificant.

I walked away from a marriage with nothing but holding the hands of little children.  Even on days of struggle, I always believed I had the better deal.  My only caveat was that their father stay in their life.  To his credit, he honoured this while I worked hard for them to know, they were loved by both parents.

Our son is 27.  He does not remember the days when his father lived at home with us.  The marriage broke down when he was under three.

It is easy to rant and rave post divorce about who gets what and why.  I recall the divorce settlement where lawyers spoke for us.  Incensed by their arguments, which I felt disrespected all that was before the breakdown, I walked out.  I made my own choice and declined a more equitable financial settlement.  Despite being a student with limited money and even less time, my thinking was guided by maternal instinct.  I trusted we would survive temporary financial hardship, but long term, the gains of peace, were immeasurable.

So on this day of celebration of his life.  I am thankful to my ex husband for the gift of motherhood.  The gift has been an ongoing experience of learning how to forgive and how to articulate being safe and loved in family.  I believe we both achieved this as parents of little children, now young adults.

To those who struggle with distress, I’d recommend a peaceful resolution.  I’ve found, when we let go of pain, love takes up so much more room in the heart.

So Happy Birthday Dr T.  May you live the coming years in peace, comfort and happiness in the knowledge, your children love and respect you.

DSCN9200Despite our big feet we proved, we can still walk on water.

Acknowledging this, is my gift to you.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

 

 

Continuum

I’m no longer counting how many trips I have ahead of me.  It seems easier at this time of year to look at the ones I’ve completed. It brings a sense of satisfaction but in the case of Narrogin, a sense of sadness, too.

Yesterday morning was my last visit to Foxes Lair for this year.  Saying goodbye three times in one morning, I was obviously reluctant to leave.  DSCN0379.jpgThe flowers are almost gone.  At least the obvious ones.  The grass is less green and more blond by early summer warmth.  Some trees have shed leaves.  They reminded me of chocolate curls, so I trudged around planning my Christmas menu.  It helped keep happy thoughts forefront.DSCN0375.jpgI don’t recall seeing these large shrubs before.  They were everywhere and pretty in pink.  That’s what I find so amazing about being in the bush.  What looks ordinary one season, is eye catching, the next.DSCN0300.jpgThere were tall grass tree spikes bursting in flower.  They look ordinary from a distance, just tall and white.  Close up, well, a star studded sabre, comes to mind.DSCN0297.jpgThese flowers grow on flannel grey shrubs.  There are thousands of these flowers in bloom, or waiting to bloom.  Ordinary?  Not to my eye.DSCN0353.jpgThere were a few of these still fresh and blooming.  They are exquisitely tiny.  And yet, each puff is several flowers within a flower.  I kept walking up to it and could see it up close but stepping away, lost it numerous times in the grass.  Got to get that shot became a mantra!  Photography has taught me patience and persistence.  DSCN0334.jpgAnd some were still beautiful, well past their bloom.  I had to tripod my legs to steady my hands that shook with the delight of each little flower.  The fragility!  And, tenacity!DSCN0324.jpgI heard strange sounds above me.  Sounds I haven’t heard before.  They, more than likely, came from young parrots, hiding in tree hollows.DSCN0361.jpgI bought coffee in town and headed back to the Lair.  I saw a young kangaroo family, three in a mob.  The male, impressive!  He was almost as big as a deer.DSCN0363.jpgHis face veiled by cobwebs, his gorgeous ears, twitching, alert.  We were eye to eye for a few minutes, each sizing the intent of the other.DSCN0372.jpgThere were no small birds at all, but seeing these flowers growing profusely, who can complain.DSCN0399.jpgOn the way home I spotted this in Crossman, growing just off the road among a grove of shady trees.DSCN0402.jpgI stopped my car to take some pictures, forgetting this is Western Australia in spring.  I was covered in bush flies within seconds!  If you only knew what I went through for this pic!

The coming few weeks will be a round of goodbyes.  They will be made easier in the knowledge, I’ll have new adventures next year.

This chosen lifestyle is a continuum.  I’m happy, grateful and feel blessed with the choices I’ve made.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

 

Where rivers meet …

I started this blog for my children.  I wanted to share my journey with them.  And, also my travels.  I wrote with no other audience in mind.  I’m not even sure how the first reader found my blog months, maybe even over a year after I started it.  I am a shy person by nature, this anyone who knows me well, will tell you.  But now each time I broadcast to an unknown audience, I sense an intimacy, a sense of connectivity, as I invite them into my world.  The urge to share this wonderful country with others is a special joy whenever I blog, even if it is through imagery.  I try not to boast but, honestly, I cannot imagine living anywhere else on planet earth.  This I say with hand on heart.  I’ll tell you why.

Let me take you to Wyndham.  “Wyndham?!”  West Australians will say with some incredulity in their voice.  Yes, Wyndham.  Established during the gold rush in the area in 1886, it is a town of some historical importance.  I went there about two years ago.  I wanted to see the Big Crocodile.  And, didn’t.  I was surprised to learn we had parked near it … and I missed it!  The very thought of it makes me laugh to this day.thumb_IMG_3886_1024.jpgThe Big Croc is the first thing you see as you enter the small town of less than 800 people.  To quote the late Steve, Crikey!  How did I miss this!  It is so huge I couldn’t get the whole sculpture in the frame.  thumb_IMG_3885_1024.jpgBeing off season, there was nothing open.  The supermarket, too, shut early.  Someone told us about a bakery, just down the road, they said.  We soon saw the sign.  We knew immediately, we were far from home.thumb_IMG_3883_1024.jpgThis was outdoors on the way to the loo!  Yes this is crocodile country, as if one could forget.  There are reminders everywhere.DSCN9464.jpgOne of the things I wanted to show my travelling companion was the view from the Five Rivers Lookout.  Because I had been here during the day, I was yearning to see it at sunset, too.  I knew it would be amazing.  The road up the the lookout, which is around 330 metres above sea level and the highest point of the town, is narrow and winding.  The views across the mud flats, stunning.  I’m surprised there are not more accidents as people peer over the edge.DSCN9467.jpgWe were taking in the sheer expanse of country where the rivers Ord, Pentecost, King, Durack and Forrest join forces to meld into the Cambridge Gulf.  The waters must be teeming with crocs.  There was an abattoir here once.  The crocs remember this.  They often hang around the jetty, although the abattoir closed its doors in the mid 1980s.  We were taking in the views when I saw them.  I could not believe my eyes.  A tiny rock wallaby seated high above the town.  Can you spot it on the rock between the two trees, just above the 2 in the date?DSCN9440.jpgThey were part of a small group, some as tiny as a cat.  DSCN9454.jpgTheir coats looked soft and fluffy with beautiful markings.  Their feet dipped in dark chocolate.DSCN9455.jpgThe eyes large and luminous.DSCN9473.jpgLook at that pose!DSCN9479.jpgThey were nimble among the high rocks and perfectly comfortable in our company.DSCN9445.jpgOne even sat facing us.  Our delight, the evening’s entertainment, it would seem!thumb_IMG_3880_1024.jpgSoon it was sunset.  The sun slipped away beyond the five rivers.  DSCN9481A red disc dazzled in the darkened sky.  It was time to leave.

I’ve seen many Kimberley sunsets.  The thing I know for sure.  You can walk away from that sunset, but it is a memory you can never leave behind.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird