The weeks have passed and I am back in the swing of things. But the swings of my childhood – old, splintery planks attached to thick rope and straining posts – had an annoying habit of hitting me in the head when I was distracted. Now, when I least expect it, a stray memory of my time away in Sweden or Norway or Scotland brings a smile to my face. It’s soon followed by a dusty cloud of recognition: ‘play time’ is over. The swaying of reality – the errant clout in the head – must be endured and adjusting back to normal life takes time. Fresh new memories slip into place beside the old to form an integrated whole. Task complete: this writer yearns not for pastures new, but the peace that home brings.
My home represents space, light and air to me. At dawn on a crisp, winter’s morn, I wake to the iconic sound of kookaburras. Along an empty country road on my way to work, I catch sight of a herd of cattle – haze drifting from their warm, recumbent bodies in a frost-browned paddock. Though I’ve witnessed this many times before, I exhale a sigh of relief and pleasure at such a timeless pastoral scene. Some mornings, the valley is lost beneath a sea of mist with only a few solitary island hills visible, framed by the mountains beyond. And when the mist feathers upwards into the vivid blue, the heartsong of a thousand currawongs on the forested slopes rises with it.
At day’s end, I watch the valley shadows deepen. The sun dips beyond sight and the murky green of the border ranges shifts to indigo. The sky is tinged rose-gold. Clouds melt into a shimmering morass. We sit on our deck, glass of red in hand; watching the tiny bats frisk the soft air of dusk. Too soon, these elusive creatures are stolen from sight by the velvety night. Below us, the hills are sparsely sprinkled with the reassuring lights of other farmhouses. High above, the night sky offers a banner of starry treasures.
Soon, with the nights becoming warmer, we can expect to hear the assault of moths’ wings at our windows, thankfully screened, for some are a hand span across. At times, a few manage to escape inside and my slippered feet crunch on their finger-thick forms during the dim light of a 3am meander to the loo – the less idyllic side of country life in Australia along with bushfires, snakes and other nasties. Nothing elicits more fear in a hill dweller that the stray curl of smoke rising from the forest floor or, closer to home, the sight of a black snake, caught in your peripheral vision as it slides silently into bushes beside the washing line. One must remain alert.
Dangers aside, there are joys aplenty in my life. Surrounded by space, light and air and a veritable feast of memories, I can settle now to the task of bringing Book Two of ‘Sisters of The Bruce’ to life. It’s easy for this writer’s home is indeed her castle.