Category Archives: Homing

Living with the Beast

Western Australian summer is a beast. For months it slumbers, its great curved back a docile silhouette against the greys and greens and bobbing florals. Then it awakens and scrapes its claws across the land in a blaze of heat.

  • The water in garden hoses scalds and the cold tap in the shower runs warm.
  • Lawns crunch and prickle bare feet.
  • Thick metal necklaces become burning collars. Steering wheels and doorhandles and car seats scorch hands and thighs.
  • Pedestrians at traffic lights shelter beneath buildings, metres from the kerb, waiting to cross.
  • Paddocks stretch into the distance: rolling, fuzzed and tawny; rustling with bleached crop stubble; closely-capped in the pitch black of char or flat, bare and crazed with cracks. And, above them, the deep, rich sky.
  • Urban buildings glitter and oncoming vehicles are globs of eye-watering golden light.
  • The only clouds are the tiny tufts of cumulus stirred up at the ocean’s edge by the reach and retreat of the waves. People come in their hordes for the cleansing and lightening peculiar to swimming in the ocean.
  • The air is an invisible wall, high and hard and hot. It batters and stings…and waits for a spark.
  • Fire alerts on the radio warn residents who have remained to fight for their suburban homes not to venture out because the heat will kill them before they even see the twenty-metre flames.

sheep at dawn

But sometimes the beast slinks into its cave and only its switching tail shows that it breathes yet and will strike again.

  • The Fremantle and Albany doctors drift across the land signalling the end of the working day. People dare a drink of red instead of cooling white and know that tonight they will turn off the fan and pull up the bedsheet.
  • A storm’s first drops spatter and the world smells of dust.
  • The earth is made nubile by the honeyed light of evening.

Australian shed and tree

Australia, evening light

Eventually, the beast curls up again, a monument to the season. We used to think it immovable, impervious to us, but now our proddings rouse it earlier. It stalks for longer. And we have become its prey.

Australia, evening light

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Anchovy Ahoy! Part Two

Weeks after the departure of the ss Great Britain from the UK, the fair maid Clare, wandering by a (muddy) Western Australian shore, sighted this raft.

miniature wooden raft

Clearly it was the handiwork of a shipwrecked tin of anchovies (those knots bear all the hallmarks of a deft tab).

But the anchovies had gone! Continue reading

We Are All Undertakers

Moving house and country is outside the normal sphere of events and requires a certain constellation of people to effect a departure.

The final weeks are stuffed with gatherings of friends and family which in turn are stuffed with photos and presents and special meals and trying to make the most of every moment while dealing with matters from that other space one occupies – the tiny intersection between life in one country and life in another. I feel like I’m in a Diana Wynne-Jones novel where the worlds have overlapped for a brief period and I’m briefly occupying that transparent sliver before the worlds move apart again and I find that I have slid off with the new one.

And then there’s something else entirely. Continue reading

In A Dark, Dark Wood There Was a Dark, Dark House…

You know the children’s story.

Similarly, the hot, hot land, house and room. We zoom in to the hot, hot desk at which sits a woman with a sheen of fine sweat. Metres away is a cold room where sits her husband. It would be an easy matter to join him, even easier to open the door and allow the cool to waft out. Why doesn’t she? Continue reading

What Are We Leaving?

“Why are we leaving?”

The BB’s question was, this time, spurred by a conversation about the logistics of getting our goods moved from Australia to England.

As any mover will know, the timing of such a project is fraught. If your household effects go too early, you have to sleep on the floor of your empty house like a cave person; or acquire, then dispose of, sleeping apparatus; or commute to work from distant friends or family; or find a hotel. Going before your goods, is bravery or foolishness as you entrust the removal and everything else to others.

beer, Old Speckled Hen, English ale

When confronted with the what-are-we-doing question, I have a variety of responses. Continue reading

Sir Porridge’s Epic Journey…Day Five

After his fall yesterday evening in Norseman, Sir Porridge, AK, was lured this morning by other, more stable, conveyances.

tin camel, Norseman, Australia

See him up there on the hump?

Being of a scientific bent, he also wanted to check the claim that the roads were indeed large enough to accommodate the turning of a camel train.  A couple of men sitting in cars in the middle of the road were the only witnesses that it is indeed so. (The camels seemed pleased about the change of scenery.) Continue reading

Sir Porridge’s Epic Journey…Day Four

Still full of vim after his days of hard travel, Sir Porridge, AK, was up early for a bracing sit and portrait on the Ceduna jetty.

jetty, Ceduna Continue reading