Leave the ordinary behind …

In response to Fandango’s Provocative Questions #152

I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” Rabindranath Tagore

In my teens and twenties I worked as a secretary, mostly in research settings, later finding myself working as an assistant to the Executive Dean at the local university. A few months into my job, the professor I worked for insisted I enrol in an undergraduate degree. I was accepted into university the day I found out I was pregnant with my second child. The next few years were a blur with a busy job, young family and a marriage that was soon falling apart at the seams. Studying gave me the anchor and focus I needed during some very challenging years. I went on to do a doctorate in my field and like all new graduates hoped to get a tenured government job in mental health.

That was my plan. The universe had a better one.

I went out on my first practicum, paired with a physiotherapist, to a family who had a young toddler with special needs. He was profoundly disabled and not expected to see his fifth birthday. He was a ‘surprise baby’ for a family that had older teens. They basked in the light this child brought into their home and hearts. I left their home, with some of light in me.

Working in the area of special needs was never in my career plan. I knew little about it and to be honest, the university curriculum skimmed barely a unit in this complex area. I went on to work in mental health and other areas including rehabilitation for those with spinal cord injury where sadly most of the patients were once active people who faced a new reality. My much yearned for job came about finally but due to a restructure I found myself working with minimal staff to support people with complex mental health issues (schizophrenia, psychosis etc). It was a stressful job.

Around this time I was on a brief holiday in Broome, stood on the hotel balcony with a camera, my first camera incidentally, and took over 300 photographs of the sunrise over Roebuck Bay. As the sun rose, I recall thinking, “leave the ordinary behind”. When I got back to Perth I found I had taken this photograph. It remains an inspiration for me. A moment caught, not a moment too soon or too late, much like a golden opportunity.

I never walked away from special needs. I continued to have a small private practice in the area from the time I completed my degree. I returned to Perth and went into full time private practice.

My work takes me to the whole length and breath of Western Australia. I have travelled to remote outback to communities and experienced Australia not many get to experience. This lifestyle is addictive. I yearn for those wide open spaces, the red dust, the starry canopy at night, the acres of wildflowers that bloom in spring. The utter breath taking moments watching a wedge tail eagle, big as an airliner, fly alongside my car on an empty highway, watching a lone dingo hunt for breakfast among spinifex, collecting shells on remote beaches where just a single set of footprints crowds the sand.

My city colleagues are always curious about my love for what I do in rural and remote areas. They are office bound clinicians. The complexities and uncertainty of travel is not for them. For me, I thrive on the excitement of the unknown.

The reason I love what I do is quite simple. I provide an outreach diagnostic and therapeutic service, mostly to families of children with special needs. The joy this brings is like no other. The Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore’s quote resonates deep within me.

And that’s my story …

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

In the mind’s eye …

In response to Your Daily Word Prompt – Morass

Gascoyne River bed, Carnarvon, Western Australia

Inner reflection, for some, is a space of luxury and for others, a waste of time. For me, it is as essential as breath.

My most joyful moments in any given day are early mornings when I wait, coffee in hand, for the world around me to wake. It is a time where all falls away and even the muddy footprints left behind, lead me somewhere.

There is no time in the day to do this thinking. It would be akin to asking me to walk through this muddy river bed. I would balk at the squelching sounds of my feet as I dragged them through sticky mud. But from afar, that heightened space of early morning, when I view my day, my life, from above, the world below glistens. I can see what I have found.

May today bring you a sense of peace that all is well.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

2021? It’s in the bag!

In response to RDP – Reticule

The word prompt reminded me of my mother’s bags. Those tiny, beautifully beaded, soft pouches that she would carry on special occasions. I loved them. They were beautiful on the outside, but what was carried had little value … a lacy hankie (in the days before tissues), a lipstick, a mirror, some perfume.

The bag I carry is dissimilar. It is big, voluminous with life, as I know it. So I’m going to rummage through it and see what I have carried around this year.

I woke today confused about how I was feeling. Being the last day of the year, was I feeling grateful, relieved, fearful, hopeful? The prompt invigorated my spirit. The message “I got this!” came through loud and clear.

I’ll say it very simply. It’s been a year I’d never want to live through again. I have lost family and friends to the pandemic. I have lost business and watched others lose theirs. As I recovered from a severe flare up of rheumatoid arthritis and resumed nearly full time work again, I had a significant fall and ended up in hospital with concussion. Luckily no broken facial bones or teeth but the soft tissue injuries in my limbs is taking longer to heal. I asked my sister, “how can I fall face first on to concrete and not break anything?”. She responded, “because you fell into the arms of angels”. I believe her.

As I scrolled through my photos I realised I had taken only one or two pictures with my camera. I had lost strength in my hands and could not lift it nor could I press the button. The pictures I have taken this year have been mostly with my phone and most of them have been from the air. That in itself, is my story this year.

There is nothing more West Australian to me than a scene of beach and bush. I love the paradox of this type of landscape … the isolation and yet, both I know, are teeming with life.

In Carnarvon, where a community crisis of a little girl lost (and found), brought home to me how a small town can have a big heart. The mighty Gascoyne River will flow again and life will go on.

My backward glance at Carnarvon is always one of joy. It shimmers in simplicity of all that is country.

I was thrilled to visit Exmouth, in the north again, even though the heat was extreme. I did catch a couple of emus walking along the main street but I also loved this street art, just as much.

It can’t be Christmas season in Australia, without Santa making a surprise visit, in the most unexpected way. It was fun getting sprayed by the local fire department that preceded Santa’s arrival.

The kids at the resort squealed with delight as they got their ice creams.

To return home for a few weeks rest I realised how lucky I am. The horizon is beautiful no matter where one is. One just has to make the effort to seek and see it. This is what I see each morning from my bedroom.

In a difficult year, I experienced the kindness of a stranger when I fell. She bundled me into a car and took me to the hospital, stayed with me for hours because I did not know anyone in the town but as she put it, “now you know me!”.

My front entry to the home is a cottage garden that perfumes the air. I open my heart and home each morning and breathe deeply.

And in the back garden, my salad garden is teaching me the wonders of nature.

To pick a cucumber … one first enjoys the journey of the flower.

A sprig of cherry tomatoes taught me patience, as I monitored it each day for the first blush to appear.

Unable to cook like I used to, I found a simple lunch is equally good.

So I’m looking back at 2021 with a sense of accomplishment. A sense of celebration, despite it all, I survived. There have been moments and months where fearing my future, I found myself sliding down the rabbit hole. I sat with trees as my companions and know the world may not heal me, but Mother Nature does.

My wish for you is to experience being alone and being comfortable with that daunting feeling. In aloneness, to find hope, is a treasure like no other. To experience there is something better, not necessarily bigger, that will make your world the best place to live in. And, may you live well in it.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

The room, was a home.

I’ve been immersed in culling at home and just come across a story, a memory from my childhood, I had written down a long time ago. I read it and observed the child in me, the child who watched every thing around her. I realised, I am still that child today.

Eager feet race ahead of my thoughts, and out the backdoor towards the womb-like warmth of a world far from my own.

I break free from the rusty snags of the barbed wire fence, run back, kick the green gate that presumes to keep me safe, hear it creak shut and I am in the open field behind my home – the ownership of which is never questioned. It is my backyard, our backyard, belonging to us all … neighbours, drifters, pedlars, sheep, cows, stray dogs and water buffalo. I know every snake hole, every old and new cowpat, yet always virgin territory to this seven year old. I slip off my leather sandals and step mesmerised into the muddy swirls gifted by the monsoon rains. Across the gully are the mud homes, a neighbourhood hinged together like spare-ribs. Dusk does not hide the turmeric rivulets that had earlier streamed down like grief. The walls remain sullen. The homes all look alike but I know there is a different story behind each door. I wade across enjoying the sucking squelch between my pink brown toes as I lift each foot forward.

I scrape my dirty feet vigorously before entering the home. A habit. Bewildered eyes question my loud courtesy which has embarrassed me. It is just as muddy indoors. I skip in and in three steps I am in the kitchen inhaling the freshness of grass in the glowing dung chips. My eyes slowly adjust to the sepia glow. I look around the room, home to nine people. It, yet again, accommodates the tenth with the grace of a country manor. The torrential rain has left a mark indoors too. The interior walls mirror the exterior, the damp plaster shaved decoratively forms an abstract mural of yellow and grey. Ignored by all, a bundle of rags breathes noisily through a hookah. His opium-sodden authority permeates the room.

Squatting, crab like, I am seduced towards the open fire by smoke claws and join the chorus of dry coughs around it. I want to be closer to her. Her long black hair is coiled and rests comfortably on the nape of her neck. Her sari is old but clean, she has pleated and folded every ripped tear, with pride. She wafts coconut oil with every movement. Her skin, the colour of roasted hazelnuts. The tiny grimace at her consumed breast becomes agitated at the memory of succulence and she tries to comfort him. Two matched toddlers, her audience. The aroma of frying onions, chilli and green mango floods my mouth with the familiarity of piquant delight. Food to me more exotic than the usual Sunday roast chicken stuffed with bread, nuts and sultanas, which I know Cook has basted liberally with curses.

I watch as she slaps, bakes and then neatly stacks dry chappatis with ritualistic monotony. I am lulled by the comforting intimacy of her mothermovements. Does she know I am here, I wonder. My curiosity overwhelms me and I fracture her unspoken acceptance with small talk: “Is lunch ready?” She smiles unabashedly while stirring with increased vigour and flourish. I am convinced she is cooking for royalty. Wide gaps in her young mouth betray the despicable legacy of his opium-crave and her poverty. “Yes but only for the younger ones”. “What about the older children?” I ask with concern. She tries to soothe the child in me, a practice not new to her. “It’s not their turn today. They ate yesterday.”

I return home, older than when I left it.

May a memory today bring you closer to who you really are.

As always

a dawnbird

In response to Word of the Day Challenge – Watch

Sunlight, in many forms

The plant, a yellow clivia, is an unexpected gift. I placed it in the foyer of my home. I wanted it to be the last thing I see when I leave and the first thing that greeted me on my return home. It brings sunlight into my day.

I have always loved brass and copper pot plant holders. I have run out of space in my home to show case them, so I have to stop buying them. Brass reminds me of my childhood.

The brass buttons on waiters’ clothing at our local military club, the local watering hole for the Army folks and their guests, is a fond memory.

I remember women placing brass containers on their head and carrying water home in those areas that had communal water sharing facilities. How heavy that would have been and yet they walked with poise!

The brass scoop that we used to pour water into our glasses was kept spanking clean by cook. In those days brass was kept shining by rubbing vigorously with ash from coal fire.

Yellow is synonymous with welcome, with sunlight, with warmth, with gold.

One of the sayings I love is “Silence is not always golden, it is sometimes yellow”.

May the sun shine on your day in many forms, as it did mine, today.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

In response to RPD – Monday – Brass

Connection

Silver eye, Bunbury Wetlands, Western Australia

I’ve returned home after a few days in the South West. No trip, of course, is complete until I visit the Bunbury wetlands if I’m in the town and I never tire of my experiences there.

One evening work finished a bit earlier than planned and I rushed to the wetlands with my camera just before dusk. I was alone there. Well, not quite. The air it would seem was alive with birds but I couldn’t see them. The tiny silver eye were there in flocks. My prayer each time I’m out with my camera is a simple one. “Show me something beautiful so I can share it with others”. I was not prepared for what was to follow …

I heard them before I saw them. The clickety clack of a bike on the wooden bridge alerted me someone was approaching. I stood behind a shrub and observed, friend or foe, the area being lonely before dusk. She was a young mother, slender as a reed, she parked her bike and lifted her blond haired boy from the seat to the ground. They came around the corner and saw me. They were as surprised to see someone there as I was. We made polite conversation, she being from further south and I, from the city, north of Bunbury. Knee high to me, he was silent as mother and I pointed to the invisible birds to share our delight with him. In a random moment, I got one photograph. “Ohh! look!” I exclaimed and shared with his mother. As we laughed at my fluke shot I remembered him at my knee. Silent and barefooted, his tiny pink toes, gripping the grey footpath, he waited patiently as adults talked and laughed above his head. His patience more impressive as he is not yet two. I bent down and showed him the photograph. His face lit up. He smiled. His chocolate brown eyes shone like stars. As I drew myself to stand up, he made eye contact with me and said, “More”.

I went back to my hotel knowing, prayers do get answered, so I share this story with you.

In response to RDP – Saturday – Eyes

Home, the sanctuary

Somewhere in the Midwest

Life has resumed, as I knew it once, or almost as. And if the social and travel restrictions have had an impact on me, it has only intensified my desire to travel and work. But there has been a shift.

As a child, as young as six, I knew I wanted to break free of cultural expectations imposed on me. I wanted that open road ahead of me where I made my own choices. That feeling is still fresh and alive. But it came at a cost. As I filled in my life with work and my own choices, it left little space for meaningful relationships. I regarded them as a roadblock to where I wanted to be, of course, despite the destination being unknown.

For nearly seven years I have lived out of a suitcase because of frequent travel and returning to a house that has been under constant renovation. Now I can see the end in sight. I have many people who have contributed to this and in many ways have rescued me from myself on some level. My lovely old builder who had my house keys for years and worked to my schedule and budget with utmost patience. The handyman who refuses to accept his fee whenever he visits and gives me a generous discount despite my protests. Oh! how he loves to tell me about his life and give me tips on Italian recipes and, being a former butcher, the best cuts of meat to buy! Then there’s the painter with the most amazing eye for detail and a passion for golf. Last week he left a speck of blood near the ceiling (some 15 ft high) but was determined to fix it. With the scaffolding gone, he left me holding the ladder while he hyperventilated his way to the top! Now the internal painting is nearly completed and the house indoors is taking shape. To live comfortably, I am culling ruthlessly. Keeping stuff for sentimental reasons is perhaps a developmental phase. We reach a certain point in our lives when discarding is healthy. With fewer memories to hoard, I find myself creating new spaces to live in. Life, not space, has become a sanctuary.

To have someone enter my chosen lifestyle not to take up space, but to create space for me, is a sense of elation I have not experienced in years. This morning I woke to a darkened home. Outside there was a patch of moonshine highlighting the beginnings of the ‘writing space’. A gift I will treasure because the creativity and thought that went into this. Labelling that area of the garden as my ‘writing space’ and creating it with that purpose in mind is perceptive and thoughtful. The ‘creator’ would have known I am not someone who relaxes with a magazine. I sit and write.

That open road now has a destination. I will no longer return to my house after each trip. I will return home.

May you find your journey today leads to your home of choice.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

In response to RDP – Tuesday – Rescue

When fuses are lit …

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Full moon, Diggers Rest, Wyndham, Western Australia

Sexual attraction, that indefinable energy, that surfaces silently and generates a force of its own, and much like the moon, has the power to move oceans.

Does one normalize this clinically as a biological instinct?

Or does romanticize this as an unmissable magic carpet ride?

a dawn bird

In response to RDP – Friday – Normal

Out there

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It’s been a long day today but made easier when a friend sent me texts and pictures of an area I visited for the first time, about two years ago.  I felt a pang of nostalgia for that harsh and stunning landscape.  Fortunately, I have a colleague who loves this kind of travel as much as I do and when offered work, we are always prepared to go the distance.  We both love the nothingness and fullness of the outback experience.  She and I were there for just a week but my friend’s swing is longer.  Long hours, heat and isolation takes a toll on folks.  I know from experience, unless one has experienced this, work and travel of this kind is difficult to explain to others.  It is emotionally, physically and psychologically taxing.  It brings out a curious dichotomy of vulnerability and strength in people.

I’m behind my work schedule tonight but wanted to reblog my post of that visit.  I have fond memories of that trip.  We were like excited school girls and it was a long hot drive.  I recall we drank litres of water but did not need a comfort break.  The heat was intense in November in country that is usually hot at any time of the year.

Oh! how I yearn to be out there again.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

In response to YDWord Prompt – Distance– 23 April 2020

See, with me

I’m not sure whether it is the case what the heart feels, the eye sees or vice versa.  Both are applicable to my experience of photography.  With camera in hand my world took on new meaning.  Solitary in my pursuits, it drew others in.  Nothing grounds me as much as the focus on photographing something that catches my eye.  When I see something I get a visceral response and photographing it just intensifies the experience of the moment.DSCN5254
West Beach, Esperance, Western Australia
The young fearless surfers at West Beach are a delight to photograph and one of my favourite places to visit in Esperance.  I love reflecting how analogous surfing is to life’s journey – the waiting, the patience, the moment of poise when you stand firm on fluid ground and let the wave bring you to shore.  And then … you go out to experience the same again.DSCN8464
Grevillea
One of my favourite native shrubs is grevillea.  The birds love it too.  To my eye they are perfection, each loop, part of the whole.DSCN9085Pelicans capture my heart as much as sea gulls.  Large and ungainly, I love how pelicans descend on water, with the grace of a perfect flight landing.DSCN8526
Town Beach, Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia
When I retire I want just enough money to enable me to travel to this beach on a regular basis.  Watching hues tint the sky, at sunrise or sunset, is like watching an artist at work.DSCN8709
Paraburdoo, Pilbara mining region, Western Australia
I love the mining regions of Western Australia.  The earth is a rich red, contrasting pale spinifex, ranges and the awesome landscape that demands one is still in it’s presence.thumb_IMG_5421_1024
My front garden is laden with roses at certain times of the year and at other times, there are roses.  After a rain shower, oh, the perfume!thumb_IMG_3600_1024
I use this cape gooseberry encased in the filigree paper like lantern as part of my meditation.  When I want to extinguish an undesired behaviour, I envisage new pathways emerging in the delicacy of my brain.thumb_IMG_3593_1024
Who can resist the attraction of unconditional love?  Not me!  This is the day Kovu became part of my son’s family and like a doting grandpawrent, I was there to document family history 🙂

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

In response to RDP – Wednesday – Visual

With my game face on …

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Ivanhoe Crossing, Kununurra, Kimberley region, Western Australia

The Ord River, lifeline of the fruit growing region in Kununurra where there are km after km of mango groves, is magnificent in full flow.  As I drove up here, some 8-10 kms out of Kununurra, I could hear the water but was unprepared to see the force of it.  There is a curved sealed low bridge road that one can drive across the river when it is not flooded and some do attempt to drive across when it is.  I’ve also seen folks fishing, standing in these waters where there are saltwater crocodiles.  On one trip there was a couple knee deep standing on the road and fishing off it.  He left his partner in the middle and walked toward us.  I asked him if he was local, he said no so we warned him about the crocs.  He glanced around and said, “haven’t seen any today”.  Such stupidity is breathtaking.  A few minutes later a couple of rangers came up to the site and directed the couple to another safer fishing spot.  The rangers just shook their heads while these folks packed up.  I’m not sure whether their casual attitude was stupidity or bravado.  I’ve photographed crocodiles in a croc park and they are lightening quick.  I managed to get some beautiful shots only because I was startled!

I’ve walked along here a few times and have been here on my own.  I just love it.  The birdlife here is pretty amazing.  Big water birds sail these waters with ease.  To be an observer of this force is a humbling experience.  Nature does this.  The added bonus is a mango farm on the way here that sells the most delicious mango ice cream and milkshakes.

Oh! I’m missing travel and being outdoors so very much!  My days are a roller coaster of emotions.  I feel vulnerable some days and others, stronger and resolved.  I question myself whether I could have appreciated my experiences more than I did.  Is it really possible?  Ever hopeful, I guess I’ll only know once I travel again.

I love the anonymity travel gives me.  I am often in small towns where no one knows my name and yet I have never felt lonely.  Here in the city, I am consumed by a sense of being alone, so I put my game face on and plod through another day.  I have always believed feeling lonely when in company, is a crushing feeling.  I find walking through supermarkets or shops an unnerving experience.  The automatic response of putting distance between folks is unsettling.  I have a massage several times a month.  I am an affectionate person with those I love so I have skin hunger like nothing I have experienced before!  When I’m home alone working I’m oblivious to it.  But if I go out and return home, it takes a while for me to settle into my skin so I plan each day, each week carefully.

During the day the sounds in my neighbourhood are a comfort.  Children practicing their piano or wind instrument.  The low hum of neighbours’ voices.  The hammering, the lawn mowing, dogs barking.  But the odd feeling of presence amid absence is disconcerting.  I feel a pang of guilt writing this post when there is such pain around the world but on second thoughts I felt it was important to look at the human experience of this at a subjective level.  If I cannot access this in myself, I know I will not be able to understand it in others.

I’ve decided to stagger whatever work that remains to be done to the home.  It feels good to have someone around.  I’ve found a good gardener who is enthusiastic about rejuvenating my garden.  Once it is established, I know it will be a healing space.  And, don’t we all need this?

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

In response to RDP – Tuesday – Bravado

Unfiltered

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Rainbow lorikeet, in my garden

Being home has given me the opportunity to get my house and garden close enough to what I envisaged when I bought the property.  I’ve had time to build up my ‘little black book’ and struck gold.  I now have a small group of good tradesmen who are able to help me realise my dream.

With most of the internal building renovations done and just painting and window treatments left indoors, I’m enjoying moments in the garden trying to dream up a space that will keep me grounded.  I was toying with the idea of getting rid of the big mulberry tree.  I get barely a cup of fruit from lower branches and a laden, tall tree is tantalizing to others too, it would seem.  Sadly cockroaches love the fruit and when the fruiting season is done, they try and come indoors.  I abhor cockroaches enough to contemplate, for a brief moment, to cut down the tree.

Last evening at dusk I heard the rainbow lorikeets outside my study window.  They love the mulberry tree.  Then I remembered what a serendipitous moment feels like, and it made my heart beat to a new rhythm again.

a dawn bird

In response to RDP – Monday – Flutter

Finding nirvana

This morning I was up by four am.  With autumn chill in the air, I rugged up and enjoyed the silence.  I could not have been more at peace nor happier.  It took the birds another three hours before their birdsong filled the garden.  In the dark I reflected on my numerous trips and found myself smiling at the memories.  Although I’ve loved every moment of my work travel, I know the joy will be intensified when I return to these places.DSCN6508
Newman, Pilbara mining country, Western Australia
I took this picture a few years ago.  Although spring, it was hot.  It always is, up north.  I recall the sheer joy of acres of flowers.  The purple mulla mulla was blooming by the thousands.  And, those red Sturt Pea flowers, take my breath away every time I find a clump of them roadside.  In harsh mining country, the joy of finding fields of flowers, is a moment I know will experience again.DSC_0844
The simplicity of walking in seagull footsteps is something I will follow again in three words, sea, sky, solitary.  DSC_0828
I recall finding the most vivid coloured shells north of Broome in Lombadina, an isolated indigenous coastal community of the Bardi people (‘Salt Water People’).DSC_0823
Although I love collecting shells, somehow I could not bring myself to collect shells at this beach.  I had a deep sense they belong to the people that live here.DSC_0811
What was amazing, as my friend and I walked along the shore I thought I heard music, the kind one hears in Bali, not as sharp as the gamelan, but similar tinkling sounds.  We stopped and listened, puzzled, there was no one else within sight when we realised, as the tide swept out to sea, the music came from the water swishing through the thousands of shells.  It was a sound I have never heard before, or since.  Oh! how I wish I had taped it on my phone!  I’ve been to this beach a few times but never at a time when the tide is receding, so maybe this, too, will be on my list to do.DSC_0680
The Dinner Tree, Derby, Kimberley region, Western Australia
I have sat by the ‘Dinner Tree’ many times, an iconic historic spot in Derby, far north.  This is where the drovers would bring cattle along the flats, stop here for their dinner break before heading to the wharf beyond at Derby Jetty.  It is a beautiful boab tree.  The flats are expansive and the locals seem to use it to get to their fishing spot at the Jetty at sunset.  I’ve enjoyed quiet moments here and wondered how alive it would have been with the sounds of cattle and tired drovers, relieved to be resting after a day in Kimberley heat.

Life could not be more simple these days filled with chores and the trickle of work that comes in steadily.  The only travel I do is flicking through photographs.  There’s so much more to see and do and the impatient Aries in me has to be calmed, sometimes on an hourly basis.

Going through these photographs I found what I was searching for, my nirvana, that feeling of peace and happiness that comes from being at one with Nature.

It’s back to my reality for now.

As always

a dawn bird

In response to Your Daily Word Prompt – Attain – 19 April 2020

The Magic of Radio Ceylon

This morning I opened my emails to find another reminder from Spotify and soon after read Paesansunplugged (Punam) contribution to Napowrimo with the prompt ‘Forgotten Technology’.

The prompt took me back to the days of radio of my early childhood, when the only English music was available on Radio Ceylon  (now Sri Lanka).

As we waited in a hushed home the radio came alive, twice a day, morning and night.  Our lives revolved around that small box especially in teenage years, when after the BBC News, it was love requests for an hour with Elvis, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Peter, Paul and Mary.

But in the years before this, my father would tune the dial and navigate the crackle until he found Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Artie Shaw and with Begin the Beguine in his soul and invisible partner in arms, he’d sweep her across the floor in that imaginary ballroom land.

They would duck and dive as one, he then waited a moment, back arched, perfectly still
for her dress to stop swirling and as I caught my breath, he twirled his partner again
just to see my eyes sparkle when I smiled.

My father’s step was light as he went through the dance genres without missing a beat, and lightest when in his world he was Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, dancer extraordinaire, but to a little girl who adored him, he was always her incomparable daddy.

I miss him.

a dawn bird