Dragonflies

 

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After Larry
Butterflies were everywhere
Tully hospital and
Home gardens were their home.

After Yasi
So many trees gone in Tully and everywhere
Uprooted, turned inside out
With their skeleton roots starkly exposed

But,
Flights of dragonflies everywhere
Clustering and descending
To adorn rocks by
Swimming pools in need of a clean

Skimming on the water
Approaching and fleeing
Varied in kaleidoscopic patterns
Attracted to handle of red net

My son is holding
Their wings – small but aerodynamically efficient
Lead me to imagine myself
One with them

But, yesterday
I saw a Cairns Bird Wing butterfly
Dancing in the garden
Remembered how plentiful they were in Feluga

They became the slip stream
To all that has been lost.

(c) June Perkins

Blue Bonnets

I wrote this poem a few years ago, but in light of the recent events in Texas it seemed a good time to share it publicly.

At the time I penned it a mother had suddenly lost her husband and I was extremely moved by her situation. The poem is not specifically about her, but more about grief – and then I read the legend of the Blue Bonnets and the poem took shape.

The poem has taken on new meanings for me in the wake of recovery from cyclone yasi, which it seems we only now start to truly feel relieved from.

When the newspapers and  most media go, and headlines diminish families are still left rebuilding, recovering and having to learn to let go to truly be free in the spirit. This is by no means easy. Yet somehow we get there in the end, and stories have a power to help us make it the point of renewal.

 

Funerals like rain
Fall from clouds
Young boys say ‘goodbye’
As father’s lowered to the ground

Mother stands alone
Tears become her shroud
Funeral goers utter not a sound.

She hears blue guitar strums
She’s pounding melancholy’s drums.

Texas and Tully are so far apart
Yet they share skies
Where hawks and ibis fly

Storms and troubles rock both their shores
Warn their people to depart.

She tells her children
the legend of the Texas Blue Bonnet flower

A young girl gave up her warrior doll,
The last reminder of family,
To invoke a higher power.

She burnt her warrior doll
Its head dress of blue feathers
Offered up its ashes
To the North, South, East and West Winds
So hunger and loss it would tether.

She cried herself to sleep.
Let her memory weep.

When she awoke
Never before seen flowers,
Clambered the mountains
Birds made their bowers
People drank from hope’s fountains.

The mother with the shroud
Inside’s the little girl
Who’ll burn her own warrior doll
She knows what must be done

She’ll let her dreams unfurl.
She’ll wait till all sleep then
Pull out her favourite guitar
Take those blue cords
Burn them, banish them

Scatter their ashes,
North, South, East and West.

The dry season will begin
Floods have had their fun
A looking- to-the-future music
will now begin to grow.

By June Perkins

blue bonnets

Herself- Flickr Creative Commons

Farewell

guinea pig2

Thanks Misty for

all the good times

going through a cyclone Yasi with us

making the children smile

being a good friend to Chocolate, Calico, and Soot

being good when you have your bath

being you our beloved guinea pig.

 

Be happy under your garland of flowers

free from pain

forever in our memory pop corning

with Chocolate around your soft toys.

 

RIP  29th January 2013

Walking in the Rainforest

Our first trip back to the Licuala Rainforest after Cyclone Yasi was full of greenery!

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We just did the short children’s walk, partly due to the heat and because youngest had left his shoes behind (so easy to do in Queensland) and we’d bought him thongs for the walk.

It was encouraging to see so many healthy licuala palm leaves.

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I enjoyed abstracting the leaves.

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And looking for sunbursts.

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The children loved their outing, and want to walk further next time, maybe beginning much earlier in the day, and with suitable footwear.

Youngest took his thongs off back near the car as they were a bit big.

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We all enjoyed our walk back in the glorious green.

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(c) June Perkins, text and images

Operation Bath Time for the Guinea Pig Crew

hiding in the towels - Soot and Misty1

hiding in the towels – Soot and Misty1 – taken by my daughter

 

Mouse’s ‘A Story of a Tree’ and Michael Lloyd’s family ritual tales remind me that often family life is made up of small rituals that over time become richly significant.

**
One of the small rituals of our family’s life is bath time for our champion guinea pig crew; champion because they survived Cyclone Yasi as calm as could be. Animals amaze me with their resilience.

Before bath time with – Soot, Calico, Chocolate and Misty – the children make them a warm, comfy and portable home – a plastic tub generously equipped with pet towels.

They lay out pet towels for afterwards – ready to dry and warm them.

Their cage is normally cleaned by the children not involved in the bathing, so they can return there when the whole operation is finished, newly washed, lovely to smell, and glossy.  They rotate this less enjoyable task because it can get mighty smelly in the cage.

The children have made bath time a precision operation, littered with a huge number of comforting cuddles, as not all the guinea pigs like water.  Misty needs the least amount of cuddles because he loves bath time. He still receives plenty!

Prebath - set up

Prebath – set up – June Perkins

There are three main stages to the bathing phase; stage one – place the crew in a box with carrots, their favourite food.  There they wait to be washed.

Stage two – a patient child gives each one a dip in the low run bath (most often my daughter or our eldest), and then lastly one by one they go into the warming area to wait for their other guinea pig chums.

Calico in the bath

Calico in the bath – June Perkins

Once all the guinea pigs are together the children swaddle them for a while in towels to warm them, and then take the time to cuddle and chat with each one of them.  They take great joy in the guinea pigs hiding in the towels.

Then there is a thorough clean of the bath – for the humans who must follow the guinea pigs to use it.

But Soot, Calico, Chocolate and Misty won’t make it back to their cage for a while, as now they are so clean they are especially enjoyable to play with.

One of my favourite memories from when we first had the guinea pigs is the children placing soft toys all around them. They discovered that the guinea pigs loved snuggling into bears.  They’d run around in a circle if a ring of toys was put around them and ‘popcorn’, that is a little guinea pig jig.

They are not quite as playful as that now, but they are just as cute and interesting to observe.

It’s hard to imagine family life without the guinea pig crew – Soot, Calico, Chocolate and Misty.

after the bath pampering - Chocolate2

After the bath pampering – Chocolate2 – June Perkins

 

If you liked this blog, you might enjoy reading  these  Family Ritual Stories featuring pets.

One of the Family – a dog that believes his place is in church but he also has a few religious arguments and creates a classic embarrassing moment for his family.

Woman’s Best Friend – a dachshund, with personality, who can never catch the pet cat, except in his dreams

Missing the Bus: A ritual – just what you need if you want to miss Sunday school, a loyal pet dog to walk with in all seasons.

For more on the Guinea Pigs check out their very own blog Adventures with Our Pets.
 
To submit your Family Ritual Story  to this awesome project head over to ABC Open 500 Words.