Listening to small sounds

DSCN5375This is Solo, a duckling I found on the banks of the lake near my home.  She was part of a big family, but she caught my eye.  I’ve written about her in a post some years ago.  She was so brave and always vulnerable as she stepped away from the safety of the brood.  She had a broken foot that healed in a way that made her limp.  It didn’t stop her adventures.  I take my cues on life, from her.

It is only recently that I started to value my single life.  The thing I value the most, is early morning when I can be alone with my thoughts, but there are some disadvantages too, like a few nights ago.

I got to Moora just before dusk to find teens on mountain bikes playing chicken with the light traffic of occasional trucks and cars.  I have worked with teens who have no regard for law and order, more so than the rite of passage of adolescence.  When in a group, things can go wrong very quickly.  So I assessed what I could see.  The police lights were flashing in the distance so I knew they were keeping an eye on things.  I got to my chalet in the caravan park and started working.  By night time I curled up on the sofa to watch TV, the raucous laughter of teens carried by silence, to me.  A true life sleuthing of a cold case had me transfixed so I stayed on the sofa until late.  I finally turned the lights off and peered outside only to find, I was the only person staying in the caravan park!  I didn’t need to know this!

I lay in bed unable to sleep.  The caravan park backs on to a local oval and is right in the middle of the tiny town.  The sense of isolation crept up my spine.  My vulnerability made my heart pound in my ears, drowning out all other sounds.  Then I went through the drill of safety.  It goes like this.  As soon as I enter a hotel room, I check the doors and windows are locked.  I do this for a reason.  I’ve had three incidents where this kept me safe.

The first is when this safety drill took a life of its own.  It is another story so I’ll hold that for now.

The second incident happened in Broome.  It was hot and humid, as Broome usually is.  It was in the middle of the day when I got to my room.  I checked and the big glass door was locked.  I stepped in for a cool shower then wrapped a towel around me and walked into the bedroom only to find a man in the courtyard trying to open the sliding door.  I thought he was a guest and entered the wrong courtyard.  I called out to him but he scurried away without looking backwards.  When I reported this to the hotel, they mentioned other people had complained too and they were on the lookout for him.  That’s when it struck me that he wasn’t a guest and how lucky I was.

The second time was in Bunbury.  Fatigued from driving I lay down on the bed at dusk after checking the windows and doors.  I fell asleep and woke around 11 pm.  The curtains were wide open and the room was adjacent to the main road into town.  I closed the curtains, got ready for bed and switched off the lights.  As I lay there, I heard cautious footsteps, then the gate to my courtyard open with a slight squeak.  I listened as the security sliding door opened oh so slowly.  I was on my feet in a flash and flicked on the outside light.  I heard footsteps scurry away.  The management were kind enough never to give me an outer room again.

In Moora I knew everything was locked in the chalet.  This knowledge calmed me eventually.  I switched my focus on the here and now and lay in bed listening to small sounds.  Anxiety had distorted them to thunder, so I focused steadily.  I heard gumnuts rain on the roof in a stiff breeze while the hum of the air con filled the night air intermittently.  All was well.  It was summer in the Wheatbelt.  A time and place for everything.  So I allowed sleep to overtake me.

The next morning I woke to light.  I must have turned off the air con sometime during the night.  The chalet was cool.  The pink galahs were screeching raucously in the gum trees.  All else was still.  Despite the noise from the birds, it felt like solitude.  Coffee seemed to jar a gentle moment of awakening, so I made a mild cuppa tea, English Breakfast, instead.  And, like Solo, I contemplated.

Sometimes we create squiggles from a straight line.  Sometimes, a straight line can be a squiggle.  I’ve found resilience comes down to perception and how we see things.DSCN9964.jpgSolo has remained a duckling in memory.  I suspect a careless driver ended her adventures one day.  I never saw her again after the initial few days she roamed the neighbourhood.  I’m sure Solo would agree, single or attached is irrelevant.  It is how we live life is important.  Tiny as she was, she was powerful in her presence.  She taught me, if one looks, one finds, life is all about the unexpected.  I’ve seen new generations of ducklings since then, but she remains warm in memory.  Today my smile comes easier.

I’m off again.  Having given away the humdrum of 9 to 5, I’m humming Billy Joel’s, ‘This is my Life’ instead.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

‘I’m like a bird …’

Frequent travel is not for everyone.  I know this for a fact in my profession.  Colleagues would much prefer to sit in an office and see a stream of 6-7 people a day, like some friends I had lunch with recently.  One jokingly asked if I’m running from something.  Fair call.  I recall watching a show about a business woman who was a victim of trauma and later became very successful.  She gave motivational lectures everywhere.  Although married, she liked the transient lifestyle.  She had a reason to stay detached.  I seem to do the same.  I have acquaintances where ever I work.  I meet folks for dinner here and there.  When I want my own space, I have it, no questions asked or answered.

Why does a vagrant lifestyle suit me?  If I were to examine it more closely I would say, it is because I love to travel and I love the work I do with people.  It is as simple as that. It satisfies me on a spiritual level.

Then there’s the personal aspect to it.  I love the freedom my lifestyle gives me.  I don’t answer to anyone.  I make my own plans for holidays when I want to.  I don’t have to consider whether it suits someone else’s schedule or not.  I spend my money the way I want to.  Is this selfish?  Or self-preservation?  I really don’t know but what I do know is, although I have a home, I love being ‘homeless’ for most days of the month.  If I had someone in my life, I’d sell everything, buy a caravan and travel, camping under the stars instead of living in hotels.  That’s the only yearning I have.  Perhaps, this will eventuate some day.  Until then, Nellie Furtado’s song, “I’m like a bird …” loops in my head.

You don’t see too many homeless people in rural areas as one does in the city.  There is one man in particular I’m always curious about.  I love his spirit.  Everyone knows him in town and yet no one seems to know everything about him.  Being a visitor, I’ve gleaned information from here and there.  I’ve given him a life story, one I have no idea if true or not.  It soothes my romantic heart.  I don’t see him being selfish.  From what I gather, in a farming town, where everyone knows everyone else, he lives the way he does by choice.  I’ve seen him in a grocery shop.  Never too greedy, he only gets what he needs.  He is also generous, whatever little he has, I’ve seen him share with birds.

I’ve written about him in another post. I hope you are as curious about him as I am.

I fly out next week and the cycle starts.  I have a daunting schedule of travel in February.  Be still, my restless heart!

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

 

A time for reflection

 

I worked a long day yesterday.  By night I needed reflection.DSCN8717.jpgI went where I had lunch one afternoon.  There’s a cafe to the right of this with beautiful views over water.  But no, I wanted to be in the scrub!  To my delight the place was teeming with birds.  I know them well enough by the call.DSCN8571.jpgI found a tiny male zebra finch with wisdom in his eyes.DSCN8567.jpgThen there was the female finch.  She flew up, caught the blade of grass in her beak and slid down, showering grass seeds on the ground.  She then fed in privacy in the tall grass.  Clever!DSCN8519.jpgEver watchful, high in thick scrub, were a pair of rainbow bee eaters.  Aloof, silent, predatory.DSCN8584.jpgThe yellow honey eaters, feasted on flowers, their maniacal laughter-like call, harsh, for such a pretty bird.DSCN8618.jpgWith ‘lipsticked lips’ pursed tightly shut, the Pacific Gull was dignified in defeat as silver sea gulls stole lunch and flew away screeching. DSCN8635.jpgThe Brahminy kite (I think), from the highest vantage point, watched all, then flew away silently.

Reflections on my experiences last night gave me a new understanding, life is not the journey we are given, but how we choose to travel.  I recalled this in a poem which says it better, so I’d like to share it with you today …

A Strong Woman vs a Woman of Strength
A strong woman works out every day to keep her body in shape …
but a woman of strength builds relationships to keep her soul in shape.

A strong woman isn’t afraid of anything …
but a woman of strength shows courage in the midst of fear.

A strong woman won’t let anyone get the better of her …
but the woman of strength gives the best of herself to everyone.

A strong woman makes mistakes and avoids the same in the future …
A woman of strength realises life’s mistakes can also be unexpected blessings, and capitalises on them.

A strong woman wears a look of confidence on her face …
but a woman of strength wears grace.

A strong woman has faith that she is strong enough for the journey …
but the woman of strength has faith that it is in the journey that she will become strong.
(Author Unknown) cited in a book ‘The Voice of Silence’ by Oonagh Shanley Toffolo.

May all the steps you take today, make you stronger.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

Up, up and away!

I’m off again after being home for just over a day.  I’m looking forward to the warmth of the Midwest region of Carnarvon, our agricultural region, mostly fruit and vegetables.  Probably too early for mangoes at the moment, but one can only hope!

DSCN8303.jpgThis is the main street.  Yes, that’s it folks!  Finding a parking spot is always a cinch!DSCN9385I remember seeing this male zebra finch in the scrub while driving 80 km/hr.  My ability to see birds in unexpected places, still amazes me!  But like I’ve said before, if you look for it, you find it.DSCN8169.jpgThe skies here are awesome.  During a storm or …DSCN8315.jpgon a clear day, as Barbra sang, “you can see forever”.DSCN8345I found this outside the public toilets at Pelican Point, a favourite place for locals to do a bit of kite surfing.  It always makes me smile!

I have so many enjoyable memories of places I visit that I’m always happy to visit again.  My hobby of photography has taught me, enjoy and keep what brings joy … which brings me to my goal next month.

My goal is to wean myself off headlines about ‘world leaders’.  I no longer want to scratch my head and wonder how and why.  The exasperation this brings, I can live without.

As a child I remember we heard the news twice a day on what was then Radio Ceylon; the BBC World Service.  You could hear a pin drop during the news as my parents would insist on this.  Then we got the newspaper from the city.  It was still news when it arrived a day later.  I watched an elderly man in Esperance recently who was walking home from the corner shop, with a newspaper rolled up under his arm.  A rare sight I thought.  The habit of clicking news headlines is now in our fingertips, it would seem.  How quickly times have changed.

I want a simpler life.  Am I returning to where I started from?  If I am, that’s okay with me, because I came from a happy place, where I keep my memories.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

 

 

 

Vintage, me

I have just returned from beautiful Balingup, in the south-west of Western Australia.  A tiny hamlet of less than 300 people.  The weather was gorgeous.  Sunny days.  Zero degrees at night.  I rented a rammed earth cottage for three nights and used it as my base while I worked in nearby towns.  The self-contained cottage had all the comforts.  There were Belgian chocolates galore in every nook and cranny.  They all called my name!  A bottle of Cab Sav. Freshly baked bread.  A basket of breakfast goodies.  I could not have asked for more.

I arrived at dusk.  I’ve stayed here before and drove in carefully on an unsealed road in darkness.  The owner lit a roaring fire for me.  He promised to leave the newspaper at the door early morning.  When did I last touch a newspaper!  After dinner I climbed into bed, snug with an alpaca rug and awaited dawn.  I smiled in the dark as possums scratched the window.  DSCN7921.jpgThe cottage balcony faced forest.  This was the view I woke to each day.  The sun streamed in through mist.  Kookaburras laughed and chortled.  A smile travelled across my face, from ear to ear, and warmed me on the inside.DSCN7766.jpgEach morning I rugged up warm and headed out to explore with a grateful heart that delighted in all that I saw.DSCN7761.jpgThe pink camellias took my breath away.  Large as a man’s palm.DSCN7915.jpgThen there were double camellias.  The owner had left several in the cottage for me.  Gorgeous!DSCN7870.jpgI loved the white flowers, just as much.DSCN7775.jpgThe sunny jonquils bloomed despite the frost.DSCN7974.jpgThe white ones shimmered, too.DSCN7860.jpgA clump of these, added colour.DSCN7871.jpgEverywhere I looked, there was beautiful, delicate wattle, signalling winter.DSCN7999I walked along country roads. Contented.  At peace.  Empowered.  I have choice.  This realisation, is freedom.

Perhaps, it’s my vintage.  I’m mellowing with age.  Life is now defined by lifestyle.  I yearn for nothing else but more of the same.

This is how I would like my children to remember me.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

 

Switching on and off

DSCN7736

This is St Georges Beach in Geraldton, north of Perth.  It is one of my favourite spots in Geraldton to sit quietly and enjoy all that I see and hear.  The day I took this picture, the sunset was silver, the waves lapped gently and everything sparkled like I’ve never seen before.

I’m off to the South-West today for a few days of work.  From the warmth of the outback, I’m shifting gears.  I’m expecting the nights to be zero degrees and from the stark beauty of the outback, winter will be lush.

My work days promise to be busy.  But, I know I’ll find time to bush walk, take pictures, eat good produce, curl up near a roaring fire.  Write.  Read.  Dream big.

Take five is promoted for well being.  I practice this every day wherever I am.  I’ve found, if you look for it, you’ll find it, no matter how busy life is.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird