Writing the Country

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A field begins – June Perkins

Lately I’ve been sharing a few book links – so excited to be making progress on non blog writing. It has me thinking about why I keep a blog?

I also keep trying to pin down what I want to write about and why to share it on a space like this.

So part of the reason I blog is to introduce people to my creative work, and give them a sample of poetry, memoir, photography and the creative process. Another reason – to share things that are truly important to me, like the essential evolving role of women in society, the need to care for the mental and spiritual health of our young people, and just things that are dear to my heart.

I did originally keep the blog for family and friends to read, but I don’t think most of them read it that often. Although lately my own children like to look up older stories now it has a longer back log of memories.

Sometimes I like to experiment and see if I can write humour, or try out a writing exercise and share it in the raw form. Other times I find an excerpt from a notebook, diary or old poem and like to stash it on my blog. A blog can truly be like a nest. I tend to treat facebook a bit that way and collect links and threads which I might then put into a storify creation.

Another reason I like to blog is preserve memories and events in the spaces of life and travel. Sometimes it’s small things and other times its massive things like cyclones. Life just happens and you go with the flow of that to write about.

This is not why everyone blogs, but it is the sort of blog, that personally I enjoy visiting. I’ll share some of the blogs I like visiting in some future blogs, but for today  this blog ends with a  free form capture in words of country life.

Standing on the edge of a circle of parents
talking about how many lessons they take their children to
on the treadmill of taxi parent hood
and the dreams they have for their children

Driving past the circling hawks that
even hang out
over the local supermarket
or the carrion on the road

Midday day terrors as a cane truck drives
up behind me too fast and honks on his horn
to push me off the road
and I am driving the speed limit
on a back road home

Listening to poetry on a verandah
about places, and domestic violence,
aids and post colonialism
and treaties that hide in
big words and non meaning words
that are tinged with superiority

Staying at a friend’s house and
wandering out to take sunrise pictures
but waking the dogs

My best friend says she can’t follow more than
four blogs about things that mean something to her
there are just too many blogs and too many stories
it’s cluttered chatter if you
are pulled into the vortex of blogland
And we laugh and continue to plan our book

A room full of marking and
a loungeroom taken over by
end of year teacher stress
and my dear husband who is
in that profession so many put down
but they are underpaid, overworked
and those who care so much work so hard
if only more parents could see our lounge room flood..

Writing country
or is country writing me
with memories and somewhere are the lost youth who’ve
given up on life and I wonder
how we rewrite the country to be a place to grow and dream
and not end up speaking
of yet another suicide

Returning North

gumbootspic

This story  first appeared at ABC Open’s, New In Town.  Head over there to read more stories on this theme.

So many times my hubby and I were new and then gone.

We always seemed to be just settling in when it was suddenly time to go again.

This follow, or be blown, by the wind life style, which came about initially through being students and looking for work, courses and scholarships, had its down side.

We missed the people, especially extended family, left behind and often wished they could come in our suitcases.

The upside was that we always found something tantalising in the new, like when we first moved to North Queensland, to live in Townsville; that time over twenty years ago comes back to me in a huge memory wave – the long, long drive from New South Wales, the intense heat, the finding a hotel on the first night and the thankfulness for air conditioning. It was so different from my Tasmanian childhood upbringing.

I can still hear fruit bats in the trees, taste mango, and remember swimming for the first time in ocean that was like a warm bath. I remember days and days without rain. Townsville is dry tropics.

New places are vivid for the writer who thrives on a changing environment, so all these new experiences came into my life and my writing and enriched them.

During that time someone said to us, ‘once you’ve been North, you will never really leave.’ We didn’t know what they meant until we did leave when our eldest son was just one, only to return seven years later, as if by some invisible magnetic pull, but also disenchanted with the downside of life in cities.

It was a drive, further than before, past Townsville, past the cane, and heading into Tully, a town we had never heard of before – a town with a big gumboot.  Now we were in the wet tropics.

We had a tiny plastic turtle whose head wobbled up and down perched in the car, it was just one of many things to amuse our now three children in the back of the car. We named it Tully Turtle.

Looking at the photographs of when we first arrived here I see how small my children were back then, all three were under ten. Two are now teenagers, and one is heading to eleven.

We have lived the longest of anywhere our entire married life, eight years in the Cassowary Coast. Previous to that our average was about three years.

Now we know what it is to move beyond being new to being settled.

The lessons are that you learn to overlook the short comings of the area, like distance from health facilities, no public transport system, and people initially being suspicious of you and waiting to see if you will actually stay before even wanting to be your friend.

We’ve learnt what it like to live in the wet season, be flooded in, and long for days without rain.

We’ve learnt the joys and pressures of tiny communities and small schools.

We’ve learnt that there is something special your children attending school with mates they were at in kindy or year one with.

We’ve learnt what a community does to pull together in tough times like after Cyclone Yasi.  They become family.

When my friend Paulien visited from Holland – she took pleasure in all that was new – and kept telling my youngest two children how special their home was.

Surrounded by it all the time they take the Licuala palms, the cassowaries, the beach – all of it for granted, all of it home, none of it new now. Her wonder, made them curious about her home and why she should be so amazed – it made them want to travel.

They don’t remember what it’s like to be new to a whole area and how long it takes to make close friends. They are just at the beginning of life and they long for adventure.  They long for the tantalizing things that travel will bring.

(c) June Perkins

Rescue Time

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‘Guess what!’

My daughter sounded so excited.

She put her head around the corner, and in her hands was a turtle.

As they were driving home, her brother, Dad and she came across a turtle with a damaged foot.

He had been on the highway, probably looking for another creek. They nearly ran over him.

Luckily not!

They kept him for observation. They wanted to make sure his foot was alright, before freeing him.

They made him a comfy overnight space in a container with food and a little bit of water.

They were so delighted to help a creature out, especially after the recent loss of two pet guinea pigs.

They kept checking him and thinking about him.

The next day he seemed healthy, so they released him back into the ‘country wild.’

When my daughter placed him back into the water he lingered, but when we were up at our car he dived into the water.

Free to go home! And hopefully not end up on the road, or in anymore car encounters!

Rescue Time

Country Music – Calls to My Heart

After an intensive blog challenge writing month, I am doing more private writing.  Next month I will share fewer stories but more regular photographs.  However, I am going to be disciplined and just share one photograph each time.  Obviously I take more, but there is always one I particularly like at the end of the session – ‘the stand out photograph.’  Sometimes it’s because it says more than this is my son or family and speaks to something wider.

Today my assignment was to take photographs of my son in a country setting with his guitar case.  I like country albums with people sitting on their guitars, near the country, or by the side of the road, and really want a few photos like this for my folio.

Here’s the one I like the most from today’s efforts!

Country Music – Calls to My Heart

Country Music

Country Music, Calls to My Heart – June Perkins

Ah soon the  holidays will be here, and plenty more time to listen to and play music – whether it be country inspired, folk, blues – time to crank up the music and relax.

Will be good to have more sleep when the farmers have finished preparing their fields for next season and the bandicoots stop prowling – mind you there’s always the ear plugs if we get desperate.  How many pairs do we have again?

The Farmer’s Wife: Piece 16

daily bread

‘Daily Bread’- Wolfgang Foto- Flickr Creative Commons

 

She teaches me how to drive a car as if I was an extra sister or a daughter, so I can be free to leave my country home.  She says St Christopher will keep me safe when travelling and on the day of my driving test.

Country places are shocking for public transport and not being able to drive is like being in your own personal prison.  Especially when the big wet and sweltering heat come, and make you fade away with each step.

She’s much more than a farmer’s wife.  Yet, she is a farmer’s wife.

She dedicates herself to family as if it’s her truest vocation and not once ever is there a sense of regret.

She’s at every recital, concert, sporting carnival, P and C event and her loyalty never wavers.  She’s selling raffle tickets in the street.  She’s organising reunions, and trips overseas.  She’s not scared of seeing more of this world.

She’s found her fulfillment in others finding their dreams, like the best coaches who pull world records from people.  Every milestone for her children is their own world record.

She appreciates good teachers, who see more than cane farms and banana picking as outcomes for rural students.

She appreciates the behind scenes people to good teachers, and takes them under her wing, so they can find their dreams – adding them to her task list.

She doesn’t expect her sons will come back and take over the family farm; they will build new lives, wherever they choose.  But she’ll take every opportunity to build family connection spaces for them all to come together in the country way.  She’ll build these wherever she has to, even if it’s away from the country.

I can never be her, but I can see all the backbone she gives her family, this community.

There are many like her, the deeper one looks beneath the surface of country towns.

Whether her spirit of service, sacrifice and love will live on in her children is something neither of us will ever really see.

She’s the soul and spirit of all that is best in small country towns.

One day she and hubby will retire from the land, and the family oasis she built will be their new home.

She’ll ease his pain as he misses his tractor and the cane burns.  Like a wife of a solider returning from war, she will see his heart break as the farm goes to someone else’s son whose dreams lie in the land.

She’ll shake the soil off his clothes one more time. Counsel and laugh for them both.

She’ll remind him their daughter might be the country doctor one day.

She’s much more than a farmer’s wife.  Yet, she is a farmer’s wife.

She’s shaped the way I see the country now.   She’s given me the strength and some extra skills to be much more independent in my life.

to cut the bread

‘To Cut the Bread’ Wolfgang Foto – Flickr Creative commons

Inspired by the Who Shaped Me project for ABC Open, this month’s  Pearlz Dreaming blog theme will be about the people who inspire me and there are lots of them! Goal 19 pieces on Who Shaped Me.