Kindred spirits

via Daily Prompt: Radiant

There is a certain joy that comes from some memorable interactions.  The word prompt ignited a memory, so I’ll share with you.

Familiar with my circumstances I was told about her, a widow in the neighbourhood, so I visited.  Respective losses presumed to be common ground.  She was distant with others.  No one was allowed in the space she was in.

The carer raised her eyebrows in frustration and left the room.  I walked in.  I found her seated with her back to the window where sunlight streamed in.  The priest had told her to expect my visit.  She stared at the wall ahead of her, but responded to my greeting without looking at me.  I was honest with her.  Told her I was advised to see her because maybe we had things in common we could talk about.  She heard the ethnicity and the relative youth in my voice, turned around and gave me a baleful look silently.  When she spoke, she was haughty, with an Australian accent, rarely heard these days.  We could not have been more different.  Yet, I felt an instant connection, warm as an embrace.

Over the weeks that followed, I told her about my travels.  About the time …

DSCN0003when I drove through a weather cell in the Wheatbelt, frightened out of my wits, the huge road train turned into a road angel that afternoon and illuminated the instant dark.  I found silence and calm in a paddock, some 85 kms down the road.DSCN7196About my work in Moora where I go looking for the butterflies in the garden of my hotel.  She looked at the picture and said drily.  “It’s just a monarch!”  There was a slight thaw around her mouth when I said, “yes, wearing polkas!”DSCN7087.jpgI told her about my work in Bunbury where I found the ocean turns pink at dawn.DSCN9918.jpgAnd about the bees among the prickly dryandra in Narrogin, that look like a long eared bunny, close up.DSCN9631.jpgAbout the filigree found in leaves that remind me of the silver jewellery gypsies wear in Rajasthan.DSCN7771.jpgAnd the single, plain leaf in the sand that caught my eye even when there was so much more to see.DSCN9353.jpgHow the honeyeater’s song in the Goldfields helped me discover ….DSCN9366.jpgamong the tangles, there’s simple beauty.DSCN9342.jpgHow the flowers don’t all burst into bloom at once.  Maybe Nature sets a pace to slow us down.  Wait and see.DSCN7727.jpgI told her about the seagull with the broken foot that probably landed too hard at Walyalup Rocks, but can still fly.DSCN9507.jpgAnd about that time when locals in Bunbury asked each other if they saw the sunset the previous night.

She was visiting town and was returning to her son’s care.  At our last visit she looked brighter.  I thought she was glad to be leaving the city.  But no.  She asked me to give her the handbag that was out of reach.  She pulled out her iPhone.  Yes, iPhone!  She’s 80 plus!  She flicked through the photographs deftly and showed me one of a beautiful young woman in a wedding dress.  The style was post war.  She tells me it would have been their wedding anniversary that day.  They had 62 years together when he died.  He was the only man she had ever known. His work took him around the State, like me.  She was familiar with the towns we had talked about.  My journey, hers.

Her eyes welled up.  It took her by surprise.  She smiled and said softly, “he was my world”.  I told her he must have loved her deeply, because he left the world behind for her.

Her smile was radiant.  She knew exactly what I meant.  She cupped my face in her hands and said, “We are kindred spirits.  I may be losing my memory but I will never forget you”.

My prayer each morning is a simple one.  Lord, show me something beautiful to photograph, so I can share it with others.  I wished her goodbye and left with the knowledge, prayers never go unanswered.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird






I was driving between Dongara and Geraldton in the Midwest and from the highway at 110km/hr I glanced at the pasture on my left.  Among a large flock of sheep, I saw a lamb aglow in the setting sun.  I could not pull over fast enough.  It was several hundred metres away but I was able to zoom in.  I didn’t see the bird until I uploaded the picture to the bigger computer screen.  At that time I thought some encounters are serendipitous.  I’ve come to believe all encounters have the same impact if we see them as such.

There have been many people who have come into my life and continue to do so on a daily basis.  Sometimes, they give me more than I give them.  In the end, life looks after the score sheet.  One person is worth remembering today.

I was an undergraduate student.  It was a busy time with work, study and children.  I had a major essay due and submission deadline was looming.  I worked through the night.  As was my style, I always had more references than I needed.  I always wanted to read wider and present a better argument.  After all, that is what is expected of a student who aimed for a place in the postgraduate program.  I never lost sight of that goal.  I came across an article about a man who wrote about his life and experiences of the mental health system in the US.  He came from a well established family in New York and although he had a successful business he yearned for something else.  He became a vegan and started looking more closely at the tenets of different religions to find meaning.  The shift in this New Yorker was unsettling for his parents.  They committed him to be evaluated by mental health professionals.  He ended up undergoing the most draconian ‘therapy’ for years.  It should have destroyed his spirit.  He came out, a warrior.

I did not sleep that night.  I could not.  I noticed his contact address was not affiliated with any university even though the article was in a peer reviewed journal.  I called international directory and got his phone number.  I had to talk to him.  It was 4 am in Perth.  The children were asleep.  The home was silent except for the sound of my breathing.  I dialled his number.  It did not ring but went to his “hello” immediately.  I fumbled for words as I tried to tell him who I was and why I called.  He listened patiently.  We spoke for over an hour.  It was the start of a wonderful friendship.

My friend taught me about love, tolerance and understanding.  Although he never married or had children, he valued all of those things.  He helped me value what was in my life and more importantly, what wasn’t in my life at that time.  He introduced me to the work of Joseph Campbell (among others) and it helped me let go of what I wanted and accept what I had.  What I had was an opportunity.  I had the opportunity to educate myself.  So I did.

He also taught me outrage was an appropriate response when people, governments, situations cross the line of human dignity.  Yes, outrage!  The quote of Edmund Burke “The only good thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” was one that guided my spirit every day.  Yes, outrage is a necessary part of change.  I completed my postgraduate degree in a controversial area of study.  Outrage, fuelled me.  Years later I met my friend face to face.  He was in the audience when I presented the findings of my thesis.  I realised in that moment, there is no better feeling, than an audience of one.

There is a difference between outrage and anger.  Anger destroys the spirit.  Outrage is a change agent.

I want to live in a world that is outraged.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird




A Memory, the gift left behind


I dislike shopping.  I find wandering around shops to buy a gift, is a chore.  It brings out the judgemental critic in me!  Why are people buying all that mass produced cr*p!

There are some gifts I love to give, and receive.  I remember one of those gifts today, because he gave me, the sea.

Then there are others, the ones I find when I rummage through memory.  Precious fragments.  Time has not destroyed the tangibility.

I recall several years ago he was offered a job that took him across to the other side of the world.  I drove 400 km one weekend to meet him for breakfast by the sea.  After breakfast, with the surf drowning our voices, I gave him a huge box in the car park.  He held it in his hands watching the wind toss the big, red satin bow from one side to the other.  He was overcome with emotion and said, “No one’s done this for me before”.  I urged him to open it, eager for him to see what I had seen three weeks earlier.

Sitting atop a high shelf in a gift shop was a teddy bear with intense, brown eyes.  I carefully set aside every other bear to reach him.  When I turned around I found the shopkeeper watching me with some annoyance.  I laughed apologetically and said, “I’m sorry, but I think the bear chose me”.

I took the bear home and hand made wool trousers in herringbone, bought a ‘premmie’ sized shirt and knitted a tiny, thin black tie with bamboo skewers (oh! the pain!).  I bought a tiny diamond stud for his ear.  The bear became a replica of my friend, as he was when he was interviewed for the job.

My friend opened the box.  He was speechless.  He placed the box down.  He hugged me for the longest time. Eighteen months later he was killed in an accident.  He was 43.

A week later I phoned his sister.  We talked for hours despite it being our first conversation.  I shared with her my friendship with her brother, and our passion for writing.  The 4 am coffees.  The arguments over the choice of words.  Toblerone left on the table silently, in a gesture of peace.  Red carnations on the doorstep when I wasn’t home.

Then I told her about the gift I gave him and the process that led up to it.

His sister started to cry.  She told me I had not bought the gift for him, but for her.  It was her source of comfort during a period of immeasurable grief.

We were both living in different Hemispheres.  She was holding the bear when I phoned.

I’m more convinced today than yesterday … give from your heart and not your wallet.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

Cat, with attitude


This is Killian.

Aptly named, one of the meanings of the name is fierce.  No pouting mouth.  No sideways glance.  He knows there is no such thing as his better side.  Nor is there, a better angle.  He stares a camera down.

With apologies to cat lovers, I’m not one of them.  Killian does not belong to me.  Nor does he belong to my son and his fiancee.  They belong to him.

My son’s fiancee loves animals.  Soon my son discovered he loves their two cats.

Then Killian joined them as a house guest while his owner was away for a few days.  When he returned, Killian decided he had found a new home.

That was two years ago.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird



The healing

One of my favourite quotes by Harville Hendrix is framed and visible on my work desk, for all those who walk in to see.  “We are born in relationship, we are wounded in relationship, and we can be healed in relationship.”

I was introduced to this type of thinking over twenty years ago.  Times have changed.  People have changed.  Perceptions have changed.  I have changed.  This was brought home to me recently.

I was visiting someone who has dogs.  For hours the rescue dog was outdoors and I watched him intermittently.  Then, someone opened the door.  He came in and went straight to my feet and settled himself.  Ordinarily, I would be wary.  I have been bitten by dogs on two occasions.  Even though these events happened in the distant past, the anxiety around dogs remained.  At a delicious lunch at a seaside cafe, my colleague mentioned casually.  She observed I was no longer nervous around dogs.  Usually, she is protective of me, but did not have to step in to redirect this time.  I reflected on her observation.

A few years ago my daughter bought M.  It took months before I could stay alone at home with M.  As the days became weeks, her bond with me strengthened each day.  She would give me a baleful, disapproving look each time she watched me pack my suitcase.  She knew I didn’t like her jumping on me.  Desperate to eat her dinner, she would whimper but sit outside the glass door until I allowed her in.  She learned and obeyed my hand command for ‘stop’ almost like it was instinct in her.  While working at home, the silences between the frenetic keystrokes would prompt her to tap, tap, tap her tail, to let me know she was still there.  All communicated without a word, trust grew between us.

My daughter and her partner bought another dog, a companion, they thought for M.  A purebred puppy.  I was disapproving and wary.  No, I tell a lie.  I was scared.  The words, “dominant”, “needs firm training”, “protective of family” did nothing to ease the anxiety.  My daughter wanted him for protection, her partner being FIFO (fly in fly out worker).  I knew he wasn’t the right breed for the family, especially as he was an aloof puppy when only a few weeks old.  I was proved right.  A few months later, his aggression nearly killed M.  There was nothing the young adults could do, but return the puppy to the breeder.  Then, they bought another puppy.

We all fell in love instantly.  She smiles!  All day!  At anything!  And, anyone!  For her, everything is love at first sight.  She shares the love with thousands.  Her social media presence and following, is strong!


M was wary of Em from the very start.  Walked away from her on approach.  M’s memory of being attacked still fresh.  She watched from a distance as Em became beloved and in turn, loved others.  Em did not give up.  She loved M and was never far from her.  Soon M started to respond to Em when she brought toys to her, barking insistently for play time.  M would sigh, a big old sigh of exasperation, climb off the sofa, and indulge Em for a while.

Em is now 11 months old and 45 kg.  M and Em are inseparable.


Harville got it right.

Until next time

As always,

a dawn bird