‘The Dinner Tree’

There are many natural icons that are synonymous with the Kimberley region in the north of Western Australia.  Like others, I fell in love at first sight.  To fall in love instantly, is being bedazzled in, and, by the moment.  One returns to that memory, repeatedly.

The Kimberley region, is like that for me.

Of all the things I’ve seen and experienced there is one that stands out for me.  One I return to every time I’m in Derby.  It is a visit to One Mile Dinner Camp and a large, old boab, colloquially known as, ‘the Dinner Tree’.DSC_0680.jpgThis is a place of history.  In the early 1900s the drovers stopped here at dusk, a midway point before they walked across the mud flats with cattle, to the Derby Jetty beyond.  The journey must have been arduous for the drovers and their cattle.  As is now, the sun would have been blistering hot from early day to night fall.  Reflecting on their hardship what comes through for me, time and again, is the sense of community they must have experienced at night fall.  The camp fires would have been lit.  The talk muted.  The cattle satiated having quenched their thirst at the Myall Bore and Trough (another icon), before getting here.  What did these men talk about?  Did they miss family?  Is this the only life they knew?  I have walked around this site and come up with all kinds of scenarios and characters that must have squat around a campfire, their weary faces aglow with rest at last.  I imagine the dinner of some stew, damper bread and billy tea would have been standard fare.  I know this because I enjoyed a similar meal a hundred years later at a cattle station.  After their meal, the embers would have been contained in the campfire, swags would have been opened and weary bodies wrapped within only to be unwrapped before dawn, when the next day would begin.  These men would have worked and rested as one, they would have got the other’s back and watched out for mates.  They were community, friends and family on the road.  To do this, they had to stay connected.  They must have known, for the common interest, the common goal, they had to be.

Have you noticed how different we are a century later?  Even families eat their meals peering into a screen while advertisements in the background tout ‘stay connected’.  You may have guessed from this and previous posts, this is my pet peeve!

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sea birth

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I had a dream,

I was in the middle of the ocean

Free as I can be

When I saw people in sand castles shouting,

“Away from the sea!”

I laughed and frolicked on

Played tag with the shore

explored forests of sea weed on my own

did a pirouette or two on the ocean floor

As the breakers took me further

Their cries faded in the wind

That’s when the realisation set in

I could not swim.

I bobbed in the briny water

Afloat on the scream within

Placed my trust in the mother

Whose womb, the sea became.

 

a dawn bird

Birds do it …

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Before leaving Kununurra, I wandered around Celebrity Tree Park one last time, not knowing when I’ll visit again.  I climbed into the 4WD, this time the climb seemed summit.  It was hot.  I had walked around for several hours reluctant to leave.  My body weary from the wonderment I was taking home, I tilted my head back into the seat, and found myself travelling back to childhood and to a time of innocence.

I was a child of books.  I still am.  Curious about the world, places, people.  I devoured everything I read and was fortunate to be raised in a home that encouraged it.  And, what I am most grateful for is having a father whose philosophy was quite simple.  He believed and instilled this in me, what you know, exponentially increases what you don’t know.  It’s a humbling thought.  So the learning continues …

While in reverie a movement in the frangipani tree caught my eye and I found a magpie lark busy.  This is a common bird found everywhere but I have never seen one build a nest before.  Fascinated I watched the bird for a good half an hour, the 4WD my perfect discreet hide.  She/he gathered enough mud from the banks of the Lily Creek Lagoon and flew up to the nest, neatly smoothing and moulding.  It never faltered in the heat.  Focused, the intent obvious, this was for family.

As my father would say, be open to learning.  Watching this industrious bird, I would have to agree with him.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

 

 

 

 

Au naturel

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For someone who was raised in a household where medications always seemed to be present (my father was a pharmaceutical representative at one time), it would seem natural that I collect pill boxes.  But those who know me well would laugh at the incongruity of this.  I detest medication unless absolutely necessary.  This thinking was probably nurtured young by watching my grandfather cure an ill here and there.  He was a firm believer in homeopathic medicine.  If there was something in the natural world that could cure something, it was good enough for him.  I have vivid memories that still make me winch, one involved extracting juice from onions using mortar and pestel then placing the mush into a clean linen cloth and squeezing the juice right into his eyes!  He believed it was good for eye sight.  A prolific writer and proficient in several languages, he died at his desk in his 90s, writing to the end.

On my 13th birthday I dislocated my right thumb.  The years of typing have taken a toll on past injury.  As I grow older, that birthday haunts me.  Determined to work my way through pain without popping pills is a challenge I face every day.  One evening it was cold, colder than it should have been even for Esperance, when I stopped by at the shopping centre.  The best parking was furthest away and in front of the newsagent.  Worked for me!  I’m always careful with a hire car, the merest scratch or bump from others who park carelessly in a windy town means $$$, for me.  I bought what I needed and as I was leaving I noticed a tray of plastic baggies, samples with a smear of ointment/salve.  I asked what they were and the lady brought out a leaflet and read through the list of things it was supposed to heal.  Judging from the range of ailments, it had to be powerful stuff!  Now with anyone else who did what I did, I would say they were naive to buy what I perceived to be ‘snake oil’ remedy.  I opened a sample cautiously, expecting a whiff of putrescent air to knock me over.  To my surprise the ointment had a beautiful aroma.  I’ll have some of that, I thought, regardless of what it can or can’t do.  The aroma alone could heal anything and I wanted to wake to a bed saturated with it.  After a day of using the ointment, I noticed I did not have any pain.  That was over a month ago. Placebo?  I’m not sure.

Smell is evocative.  It stays in memory.  If you have ever inhaled the perfume of a rose, you’ll know what I mean.  Perhaps this is why a gift of roses is considered a panacea for all wrongs to be put right.  As does the scent of roses in salve.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

 

 

 

 

Pain, my muse

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I wake, tracing the ridges on once smooth skin

The cobbled path of scars I take to the eastern sky, is slow

Upright, I stretch and bend, still flexible,

some even say strong and resilient

But me?  I’m not sure anymore.

Boots on, I trudge under gum trees, green from rain, not tears

My footfall is now lighter, alone was a heavy load,

so I swapped with solitude many years ago,

a fair exchange

to hear the uncaged bird sing, the song of freedom with me.

Or so I thought.

Another day, another dollar …

Nightfall, I return to where I started from

Reaching in that empty space

Where you once used to be

And, I wonder

Would I be happier, if you were still with me?

The question remains unanswered.

 

a dawn bird

 

Merredin, and me …

 

It’s my last trip to Merredin this year.  It’s one of the longer drives I do on a regular basis.  The preparation starts early and the routine is well established.  I get a good night’s sleep, my bags are packed, Norah Jones to take me out of the city and vintage Jimmy Barnes turned up loud of course, to bring out my inner misspent youth on empty roads shared with road trains.DSCN7089.jpgThe water pipe that runs from Mundaring Weir in Perth to Kalgoorlie, a distance of over 500 kms has been supplying water to the Goldfields for over a hundred years.  Driving alongside it or watching it meander through fields gives me pause for reflection.  The building of this infrastructure would have been gruelling work in heat with minimal comforts by those who may have yearned to be prospecting for gold instead.  Little would they have known, their contribution is a lasting legacy since 1896.  It is also ever present company, for solitary travellers, like me.DSCN7485I’ll aim to arrive just before sunset.  It’s always a challenge to get to the town before it is too dark.  I dislike overtaking slow traffic on this road.  At this time of year, I expect oversized farming machinery and drivers, all wanting to get to wherever, five minutes earlier.  I usually stop at a rest stop alongside paddocks between Kellerberrin and Merredin and enjoy a few minutes of quiet.  Always different, it’s a highlight for me just before destination.DSCN7084.JPGWhether it is light or dark, the painted silos announce I’m either entering or leaving town.  I love them.  They are the bright and beautifully thought out art by Kyle Hughes-Odgers, his canvas, 12 storeys high.DSCN5573.JPGI hope to stop for a few minutes at Merredin Peak, where the foundations of the Military Hospital are still visible.  Transported from Palestine in 1942, it was a hive of activity for those recovering from war and those who cared for them.  It is a place of paradox, historically and contemporary.  From the ravages of war, they came here for the peace, to heal.  Ironically, in this place of peace, one remembers war.

I, too, often visit this place for a few moments of quiet, well, it’s not always quiet but it is when the raucous red tail black cockatoo leave the area.  One morning I found this tiny magpie lark chick, sensing a bigger world, with eyes still shut.  I do the same when the freight train rumbles into town around 6 am, sending vibrations through my bed, and travels deliciously, along the length of my spine.

After this trip it will be the South-West, then back to the north east Wheatbelt; a week of driving so I need to care for myself with paced work.

The working year will soon be over but for now … it’s business as usual.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird