This 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.Solo 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
a dawn bird