New Norcia

New Norcia in the Wheatbelt is a small town about 1.5 hour drive from home.  It is Australia’s only monastic town established in 1847.  I drive past it on the way to Moora where I work once every couple of months.  A new highway bypasses the town.  The bypass is a series of sweeping chicanes and although a freight route for road trains, this part of the highway is a pretty fun drive.DSC_0119.jpgThe monastery has several buildings including a small church, all built in Spanish influenced architecture.  I stayed here once overnight.  It was quite an experience!  I drove up the drive way, the building before me resonated of Tara, so naturally the  phrase, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn!” looped in my head.

My room was tiny and sparse.  (I’m not sure why I had higher expectations, this is a Benedictine monastery after all!)  The toilet was down the corridor.  I was terrified at night!  I was convinced shadows were shapes, ghostly shapes.  The stuff of nightmares!  It brought out every child’s fear in me.  I had to walk down and back with just a small torch to light my path.DSC_0139.jpgI’ve returned several times here to visit.  I love the little church where I spend a quiet moment or two.DSC_0125.jpgThere were two large boarding schools here, now hired out for events.DSC_0136.jpgThe monks live behind the ornate gate.  They often run retreats.  I’d like to attend one some day.  As a child I enjoyed a weekend silent retreat once a year that we had at school.  On reflection, I have enjoyed moments of silence all my life.  I’ve just realised this.

About 30 years ago the little church was robbed during daylight.  Twenty five post Renaissance paintings were stolen and recovered later, damaged, before they were shipped off to Asia.  This small town and monastery rallied.  They started up a cottage industry selling olive oil and wood fired bread.  The bread is no longer their business, having been sold to a bigger bakery in Perth.  The olive oil is expensive but it is fruity and the real deal.

New Norcia is smack in Wheatbelt country, open beige fields, dust and heat.  The incongruity of this oasis here never fails, yet there is a familiarity that draws me to it.  The architecture is similar to the school I went to in my early childhood, so I try and visit whenever time permits.

It’s time to end my day, so until next time

As always

a dawn bird




A child is born …


It seems fitting at this time of year to talk about childbirth, so I’ll go there!

There are traditions around childbirth in various cultures.  I’ve been exposed to two.  Both very different.

As a child in India i was always surrounded by infants or pregnant women.  Yet, the first time I carried an infant in my arms was when my daughter was placed in mine after birth.  I can still remember the overwhelming sense of wonder and love but was brought back to reality real fast.

I had my baby in a Western country where traditions are different.  One is sent home, sometimes on the same day after giving birth.  And, if working, one gets a few months maternity leave.  If one is lucky maybe a year.  I returned to work nine months after my daughter was born, and five months after my son was born.  The fact I had no choice, that’s how life was, does not lessen my regret.  My disappointment should have plunged me into depression.  It didn’t.  Not sure why, but it didn’t.

When pregnant there were several other women in the office who were due around the same time as me.  And, yes, we blamed a chair in the tea room.  The talk around the table was usually post natal depression (PND).  It was almost a given that one would experience it.  I was perplexed.  I had not heard of PND before.  The women of my childhood were always surrounded by others who seemed to know what support the new mother needed.  DSC_0504Like the tree in a Japanese park, folks seemed to sense where the vulnerability was so support was given psychologically, and also in practical ways.

In India, (at least in the days of my childhood and it is possible this tradition no longer is practiced), soon after the mother gives birth, she is nurtured for 40 days.  She rests and every need is catered.  A special sweet, sort of a bliss ball, made from clarified butter, sugar, edible gum, dried fruits and nuts is made, stored, and eaten every day.  The high caloric food is thought to nourish a mother who breastfeeds.  I can remember aunts and my mother’s friends, lying back on a bed like Cleopatra, having massages with coconut oil rubbed into limbs and hair.  I wanted some of that!

Having experienced so different an experience in a Western culture, I decided to create my own tradition.  I wrote a letter to each of my children after they were born detailing the events surrounding their birth.  It became their favourite story at bedtime.  “Tell me what happened when I was born”, became a plea for some years.  If that didn’t promote good bonding, I’m not sure what else could have been better.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird









When an end, is a beginning

It’s that time of year.  We may have played host or experienced the graciousness of another.  It’s a time of year when we connect to a Greater Being, others and self.  Hope your day was filled with love and laughter.

Raised a Catholic, Communion was a sacrament received every Sunday and sometimes, more often during the week.  For me, it symbolised oneness.  Long after my divorce the local parish priest advised me I could return to the church, but I could not bring myself to attend Mass and not receive communion.  It’s like being invited to dinner and then told you cannot join others at the table.  Year later I found a priest who encouraged me to receive communion, but I would have to go to reconciliation first.  The challenge for me is to find a priest who is deaf and has a strong heart!  I do believe one day I will be one with my community again because receiving the host is deeply meaningful to me.  The more human I become, my faith gets stronger.  The return of the prodigal is inevitable.  In the interim, I receive the host in other ways.

I often look at the full moon and see a host in the sky.  Much like receiving one, the full moon gives me a sense of oneness.  There is a certain benevolence in the luminosity, so I live in the light, even at midday.

I can recall one evening in Broome.  I was there for the Pearl Festival (Shinju Matsuri).  One of the iconic events is the Floating Lanterns.  I’ve written about it in another post  The full moon.

At that time I had been seeing someone and enjoyed many fun filled hours with him.  I usually don’t tell people what I do for a living until I know them well.  With him, it was easy talk for me.  I felt I could be myself from the first day we met.  Maybe it was me who relaxed more easily in his company and quicker than he did in mine.  It felt refreshing and safe.  Unlike me, he took longer to get there, and when he did, I realised I did not like what was revealed.  DSCN1501.jpgWe were on the beach on the night of the Floating Lanterns.  It was an enchanted sepia dusk, warm and balmy.  The lanterns glowed in the dark as the waves took them further away from the shore.  In that beautiful moment of a moving ceremony, I experienced an epiphany.  I had absolutely nothing to gain and even less to lose.  I wondered how I could extradite myself from the situation.  I turned my back to the ocean and started to walk back to our belongings.  This is what I saw.DSCN1479I knew in an instant where I was in my life.  I was at one with the real me.  That mattered a lot.  It had taken me years.  I was not prepared to compromise on anything and there was nothing worth compromising.  It was liberating to walk away.  An ending became a new beginning.

So here I am untethered again.  My heart is no longer a host to another but the warmth of hospitality remains undiminished.  When the time is right, my heart will be ready to play host again.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird





White magic

I’m in the throes of planning my new garden.  It’s an exciting time.  Today’s prompt took me back to my previous home that had a back garden in two levels.  The upper level had a hedge of 14 white ice berg roses that bloomed incessantly.  I planted white flowers in flower beds and pots too.  It was magical.  It looked like it snowed in summer.

I love white linen tops (last count, 17).  I’ll say no more!

So out of my wardrobe and into Nature …DSCN7607.jpgI wanted to visit Shell Beach up in Shark Bay some day.  I was there to see white shells.  I did.  Trillions of them.DSCN8885.jpgI love photographing seagulls, perhaps because of my love for the book ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull’.  They remind me, I was given wings of freedom.  So I chart my own course and fly.DSCN8629I also love the white wave that brings a poised surfer to shore.DSCN8276The white sundew in spring.DSCN9978A beautiful pest, the arum lily, blooms in the hundreds, roadside in Busselton in the south west.DSCN9406The exquisite white boab flower that blooms up in the Kimberley.DSCN9021 The snowdrops that bloom at my front door, around the anniversary of my father’s passing.DSCN6810Then there are the roses in my garden.  Some pure white.DSCN9729Others, tinged with pink.DSCN2429.jpgAnd then there are those that appear against the white picket fence.  They are the first thing I see when I return from trips.  They say “Welcome home”.

Hope where ever you are, there’s some white magic in your life.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird






























Change, as good as a holiday

Summer solstice in Perth is officially a few minutes away.  In nature, a day of transition.  I’m no expert on weather, just an observer, and can attest this year has been the worst for fierce storms. DSCN7076.jpgDecember was to be a month of transitions for me too.  I was anticipating a whirlwind of final visits to all regions.  My trips were booked back to back and with three suitcases (Midwest, South West and Wheatbelt) all packed, it would have been easy to accomplish.  I started my month in Merredin.  I usually spend the night there after the clinic as it is a 3.5-4 hour drive home in open farming country.  Driving at dusk is hazardous with fox and kangaroo being a real threat to safety.  It was a beautiful start to summer with clear skies and early warmth.  I worked steadily all day, but about twenty minutes before my day ended I looked outside the window and noticed a sepia glow.  I walked outside and found massive clouds were rolling in.  I’ve experienced a storm cell in this region before.  I hurried, wanting to escape the onslaught.  I got as far as Kellerberrin, some 30 minutes away when it hit with force for the next hour and a half.  Spectacular lightening, thunder that made my teeth chattered and hail and rain violently smashing my car.  I calmed my nerves saying the insurance would cover any damage (my car is brand new, bought five months ago!).  I was second last in a convoy of several 4WDs, no doubt all contractors like me, headed home in a hurry.  I stayed with them for safety.  Along the way we were stopped, the police and ambulance helping at a roll over.  I averted my gaze.  This is not how a work day should end.  I was perfectly fine all day but by the time I got to Perth I could barely function.  My car was unscathed but not me.  I came down with a flu like virus and spent five days in bed.  I had to cancel two clinics.

I then went to Kalgoorlie, my days there are always busy.  Folks usually show up reliably for their appointments.  I was exhausted by the end of the first day and went straight to bed when I noticed the sky took on an unusual glow.  Then the summer storm hit.  Now, I’ve heard people talk about thunderstorms in the Goldfields but have never really experienced it myself despite working there monthly for years.  Similar to the experience in the Wheatbelt, once again the clouds collided, followed by a drawn out drum roll that sounded like an introduction.  The lightening intense and nuclear bright.  There was nothing gentle about the rain, either.  Already safe in bed I enjoyed the drama so much I decided to record the sounds.  I’ve heard it many times since, each time the memory is accompanied by smile.

Storms are much like life’s obstacles. A nuisance at the time, but enjoyed best on reflection.  This month I had five nights in my own bed.  I can’t remember the last time I did this!

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird



‘Tis the season, for love

I’ve spend the last two days reflecting on the meaning of love, perhaps, because of the time of year.  My reflections will give me something to write about in the coming weeks.  For now …

At one time I worked with elderly people where one of them was in cognitive decline.  I would often see them soon after a diagnosis was confirmed.  A difficult time.  Anticipating the road ahead for them and for the surviving partner, I would explore the resilience of the relationship.  I found the themes were invariably the same:  humour, and being there for the other.  Their thinking so alike, they were two peas in a pod.

I learned from the themes in these relationships, yes humour and presence, as simple as it sounds, works.  So this post is for them.


The tremor

She averts her gaze from the future

to his arms on the table

they are strong and still as a bridge

the junction,

where his smile carries her over

a dawn bird


All roads lead from here …

I’ve just returned home from my last trip for the year.  I should be tired, but I’m not!  I’m already making plans for next year.

On the flight from Geraldton I thought about the time when I first accepted this type of work; work that entailed frequent travel around the State.  I recall that time of my life well.

A secure, tenured position is where I was, the unknown was … working for myself.DSC_0869.jpgI woke early one morning, a glorious morning.  My hotel balcony overlooked Roebuck Bay in Broome.  This is the moment I heard life speak to me, ‘Leave the ordinary behind’.

That was years ago.

Since then I’ve come to learn.  Like the photograph, one I’ve never been able to capture again, opportunities present themselves at the right moment.  One just has to be prepared to walk untethered from ‘here’ to ‘there’.

It’s a bridge worth crossing at least once in life.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

At day break today …

I woke at first light, at 4:40 am and headed to Woody Lake this morning in Esperance.  It was my goodbye visit, at least, for this year.  The smaller birds were out and about.  A lone pelican claimed the lake.  I claimed the rest of the reserve shared with birds.  DSCN9882.jpgThe tiny silvereye was young and bold, sitting exposed and facing the sun.DSCN9904.jpgThe Willy Wagtail chick was shiny as a new penny …DSCN9905.jpglooking intently into the distance with wisdom in beady eyes.DSCN9909.jpgThe young crested pigeon was gorgeous with ruffled feathers.DSCN9945.jpgWhat delighted me the most was the juvenile grey fantail.DSCN9950.jpgThis little one had the sweetest call, an overture that filled the canopy it sat underneath.DSCN9951.jpgThen a moment of quiet, except for my heartbeat.DSCN9957.jpgThe young wattle bird found a perch here and there on banksia cones.  The distinctive metallic call silenced, or perhaps not yet developed.DSCN9964.jpgThis is the first time I’ve seen a Western spinebill and try as I may, I could not get a better pic but I know I’ll be back next year for it.

I was busy this trip being my last for a couple of months.  Plenty of things that needed tidying up.  I returned to my hotel each evening, too tired to go out, even for a massage.  I saved my energy for this morning.  The sights and sounds were a revelation.  I saw new life everywhere.  It was exactly what I needed.  This is the lure of bush walking.  The message is always a simple one for me.  Be prepared to connect.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird



‘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









Birds do it …


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


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


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


It’s summer!


It’s the first day of summer!  I feel a sense of irrepressible joy.  This is a time of plenty and I exult in the knowledge, this month is all about food and family.

In the coming weeks I will be busy browsing and developing our family celebration menu.  Nothing bring me more joy during the year than the thought of cooking a buffet for my family at Christmas.

This is the time when mangoes, cherries, grapes and exotic fruits are plenty.  I photographed these mangoes roadside in Kununurra.  They are yet to look this beautiful in the shops so I’m always sourcing them from green grocers who get them straight from the plantations in Carnarvon or Kununurra instead of the supermarket where, no doubt, they have been in cold storage for a year or two.

I’m also looking forward to some down time settling into a house that is becoming more and more like a home.  My plans for next year looks manageable with a good balance of work and holidays.  Who could ask for more?

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird