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.

There will be the other days

Eva Patikan – Flickr Creative Commons

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


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!

Licuala rainforest 79

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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.  

Finding the Zone in Song Writing – through Song Trails Tully


Michelle Walker and Bob Elliston, Singing a Song they wrote after meeting in Last years Song Trails – June Perkins

This year Tully Song Trails  gathered the musical experience of nineteen people from the ages of fifteen to seventy-eight years.

All ages worked together and came from the genres of  bubble gum punk,  folk, country, rhythm and blues, and rock.  We had harp,  saxophones,  bass, flutes, guitar, trumpet and voices – high and low – all of us were motivated to do what we all love- make music.

Peter Farnan was again one of the tutors, this time joined by Morganics a hip hop artist from Sydney.  Both had considerable talent in producing songs, which was  important on the last day of the workshop when two songs were recorded.

The Song Trails Weekend  reminded me of what most of us like in songs and what composers and writers search for to make a memorable song.

1-  A groove in the music.

2- A contrasting chorus and verse – with a stable chorus and unstable verse (reverse this for an unusual effect).

3- Writing with a sense of the history of the genre you are writing in whether it is Blues, Hip, Hop or Jazz.

4- A texture of instruments and voices that fits the groove of the song.

5- Music is collaborative.

6- Instrumental solos can build of be scattered through a song for great emotion and can have a certain feel to them coloured by the song.

7- Writing songs means tapping into creativity through many means, from drawing on the subconscious, the feeling our piece of music gives to us (ie you can begin with the music and then add the words that fit that piece).

8- It’s important to search for the unpredictable rhyme.

9- Having a hook in a song makes it extremely memorable.

10- It is possible to write a song in just over an hour, but it might take more time for it to settle.

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Songtrailers posing hip hop style -taken by Giuliana Bonel

As for the new format of Song Trails, it’s a ripper, from a participant’s point of view you learn a lot more about song making than the original three-hour workshop.  You have a great chance to form connections with other artists, and you see much more of the song producing process if you have never witnessed this before.  We learnt concert protocol and added to our performance experience.

The concert at the end of the three days featured local talent who had participated in the workshops extensively, with Peter and Morganics supporting on instruments and doing just a few of their own works.    The feedback I’ve received from people who headed to the Tully concert was that is was great quality.  They audience were amazed by the newly composed songs and impressed by the local artists – they also enjoyed what Morganics and Peter shared.  Especially Morganics rap/ode to Tully.

The three day workshop format is a ripper, the only challenge I can forsee is that if you have over twenty participants you’re going to need another tutor, to assist in mentoring the groups and recording songs.  Another singer, musician might come in handy throughout the weekend just to have another genre, person with different life experience there.  Although a lot of this can come from participants as well.   It really depends on who turns up to the workshop.

I was delighted QMF employed me to photo document song trails this year.   It might be possible with more of a budget to regularly make a montage  photo video as part of the three-day workshop.  Yes, I know I’m shamlessly plugging for another documentary gig and an extension of this role to possible music video maker, what can I say – I absolutely loved documenting Song Trails as a participant and it was energising wearing the two hats. I threw a photo montage together on the spur of the moment on the Sunday morning, and Morganics did some rhythmic editing to time it to the music.  Hence a small music video was possible!  I went home after the workshop and mixed a montage for another song as well.  Loved doing that but wasn’t really part of my original time budget for the project, just felt moved to do it for participants.

Those attending the concert enjoyed the behind the scenes photographs, especially the family and close friends of the participants.  The parents of the youth participants said their kids came home every day raving about what they had learnt, who they had met, and other local youth are rearing up to do it next year on the recommendation of their mates.  Morganics was a hit with them!

Importantly this workshop worked as everyone was deliberately mixed by the tutors and collaborated with people they did not know, all ages and genres mixed.  This was extremely good for ensuring everyone learnt something new.  So a big thankyou to Peter Farnan and Morganics,  you both did a great job.

In breaks many people were trying out playing the harp of one of the participants, and so many youth want to work with the harpist next time.  I think she felt like quite a celebrity.  Peter was extremely delighted to record a live harp, which he said he had never done before.  So perhaps people will be lining up  for the  facilitator’s experience at  Song Trails remixed and have an experience like Peter’s, although everybody would love to see Peter again as he has such a subtle way of helping you improve a song.

Another highlight for me was extremely talented songwriters turning up to support emerging songwriters by attending the workshops.  Their willingness to attend the workshop really made it for the other less experienced participants, I refer especially to  Michelle Walker, Sue Day and Shirley Lyn, who added to the positive dynamic of the weekend.  More experienced song writers and singers should not discount participating in Song Trails, for the opportunity to meet up and coming artists and form collaborations and friendships.  Who knows maybe some more song trailers will present co-written songs, just like Michelle and Bob did on the first evening.

A big thankyou to Queensland Music Festival, APRA, Cassowary Coast Regional Council, Queensland Government, and Kareeya Hydro for bringing this workshop to Tully and making it so accessible, as the workshop was free.  The support crew of Song Trails were great as well, thankyou so much for all you did whilst in Tully.


Taking a Bow at the Final Concert – David Perkins