Saturday, 29 September 2012

Snakes Alive!

Part 1

Summer is approaching here in the Southern Hemisphere. Thoughts turn to iced teas and watermelon. Blue skies and beaches. Sunny days and... snakes.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I had encounters with snakes when I moved to the country. Usually, from a good healthy distance where I could observe without danger to them or myself.
But, I have been up close and personal. And I mean REAL personal.

Working on the land usually means a lack of public conveniences. So you either, go before you leave the farm shed, hang on til you get back or, “find some bushes” to hide behind.

On an early summer’s day, I was repairing a top wire in a fence on a remote part of the property I was working on.

The urge to pee couldn’t be ignored any longer and I headed across the paddock to a stand of trees nearby.

Relief turned to shock when I noticed to my left, less than half a metre away and cleverly camouflaged among the leaves, a snake!
I froze – in every sense of the word.
Here I was, squatting down with my overalls around my ankles, my backside as bare as the day I was born, staring right at a Dugite. A member of the highly venomous brown snake family.

There we were. Me transfixed on this dangerously beautiful creature, looking into his glassy dark eye, and he, seemingly fixed on my very close and exposed position.
My ability to hold an awkward pose in freeze mode, when the desire to stumble and run instead, was commendable to say the least. I've since learnt that the "freeze mode" is the best method to choose when one comes too close to a snake, it gives them the chance to move away without panic - a panicked snake is not a good thing!

Those few moments, indelibly etched into my mind, seemed like an hour. Upon realizing I posed no threat in coming closer and with a clear way out (thankfully), the snake slowly unfolded himself from his convoluted rest and glided swiftly through the brush and disappeared from sight.
I was trembling and strangely exhilarated - the adrenaline was pumping hard!

This encounter was to be the start of a healthy, inquisitive respect for reptiles. And, the knowledge that we represent far more danger to them than they do to us.
This was to be more than confirmed in the coming years.

 image by quadrapop via Flickr

Unfortunately, back in those days, my chance encounters with snakes always happened when I didn't have my old camera. So unlike these days of the digital camera/iPhone.
And of course, they'd never be there when I'd double back and return to them.

Friday, 28 September 2012


images by Thaikrit via FreeDigitalPhotos
and J. Paxon-Reyes via Flickr
...artists or sorcerers?
We all know that expression, "a picture paints a thousand words". Well then, surely a thousand words, more or less, can paint a moving picture in our imagination.
I like to write. A lot. But, I wouldn’t call myself a writer. No way. I just like to relay my thoughts. To anyone who’ll stick around long enough to read.

I am always in awe of the writers I admire. I’m amazed at how they can touch my heart and soul. Of the resonance that rings within me when I read.

How? How do they know the way I feel? What sorcery is at play that allows them to creep stealthily into my being, observe my thoughts and emotions and take them so that I may find them written on the page?

Of course. They don’t write about me. How can they? They don’t know me. Or, do they?

To me, a good writer knows people. Is able to tap into the fibres of humanity. Tug out threads to create their stories about people, places, situations and scenarios.

From far above, I imagine looking down and seeing this huge living blanket woven from the loom of the Universe, fabricated from the fibres (moral and immoral) within us all.
If you look at microscopic textile fibres, they look uncannily like DNA. Twisted organic ribbons of life.
There’s no coincidence.
We are all so connected. Animals, birds, plants, insects. Inhabitants of this planet.
All of us.

Good writers, no, great writers, meld with us. We read their work and we connect. They have the gift of relating to what is inside us.
And when a particular writer’s work resonates with multitudes, then perhaps they are going deep, deep, deeper down to collect and reflect what is within.

Isn’t it wonderful what these masters - these artists, these conjurers - can do?

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Bright Blue Day

Don't you love "spur of the moments"?

On a rare mid-week day off, hubby and I had our day planned. When a last minute decision was made to head to the bay, south of Melbourne, for a coffee.
Today was a beautiful blue day. The sun was shining. The sky was blue. The water was blue. Everything was, well, blue :)

We stopped at a little cafe by the water. Casual conversation on a casual day. Lovely. Simple.

So, dear reader, just a little snapshot of my day. A pictorial micro moment. 

Monday, 24 September 2012

The Mark of a Dog

I love dogs. All of 'em! I have had the pleasure of living with pure and mixed breeds throughout the years and they've been an absolute joy in my life.

I enjoy "dog watching". Knowing the different breeds and identifying them whenever I'm out and about. They have their own characteristics particular to each breed.

Ever since my Australian Cattle Dog/ Blue Heeler, Jack, bounded into my life eleven years ago, I began noticing a particular little white blaze on the forehead of all cattle dogs in about the same place as his own and that they all differ in shape and size. Sort of like their own fingerprint.

It is called the "Bentley Mark".

Mr. Tom Bentley owned one of the original heelers. A beautiful, strong dog and incredible worker. He was only known as "Bentley's dog" and his progeny were widely sought after.
His attributes became the standard. And, the peculiar little white mark on his forehead threw to all of his puppies and is forever referred to as the Bentley Mark.

I once heard a charming myth that a little white mark on a dog's forehead is due to the fur colour in that area being worn off from all the kisses they get. Awww, so sweet.

Here is Jack's Bentley Mark. I can tell you dear reader, that it is the perfect spot to land my kisses on.

And I do that often :)

The Forests in My Mind

Forests. I seem to find myself living in or very near them. And during the periods in my adult life that I didn't, I would visit one. Often.

During the time that my husband and I built and lived in a modern housing - tract - estate, I felt that something was missing.  I needed the restorative effects of a forest to feed the inner me. To balance the visual effects of row upon row of black roofed "show homes", with healthy doses of uninhabited (by man) wilderness.
Somehow, I needed the security that a forest gave me.

Why is this I wonder? Does a forest cocoon oneself? Does it call back to the very primal self lying deep within, forgotten and clothed by centuries of civilisation?

Is a forest a real and metaphorical place to lose oneself?

When I was young, I would bury my nose in my big book of fairy tales. I lost myself in the illustrations - especially those of the forests. To me, they weren't dark, spooky, foreboding places of dread.  They were places of refuge.

As a wee child, I felt exposed and vulnerable. Life was violent and lonely. I longed to find a real forest. To disappear into. To hide.
For a child in suburbia, that was not possible. But, I could do it in my mind.

I created a forest where I could dwell safely, hidden from fear and danger. This was my place of retreat when I had no other escape.

Life often comes full circle. And wishes can come true.

Today, I walk through the undergrowth of the forest. Taking care where I tread. Microcosms of life abound here.
Minute communities go about their lives unseen, unheard. Those who take time to pause and see, really see, will be rewarded with glimpses into the essential roles being played in the ecosystem.


Creatures of the bush hide. Avoiding detection. Waiting. Many are nocturnal and in the evening, if I'm quiet and still, I'll catch a glimpse of a forest dweller. Comfortable under the cloak of darkness. Feeling safe among the silent sentinels of the forest.

I know how they feel.

Saturday, 22 September 2012


I left home at a young age, travelling and living a truly transient lifestyle and bunking at the grace of others. Never giving a thought to the future or putting down roots, all my possessions in a backpack.  "Home" was where I hung my pack. I was good at adapting to my environment and was content with that. For a time.

Years later, I met a gentle giant. A 6'2" rugby player - a kindred spirit - who was to become my husband. My thoughts slowly turned to throwing down my anchor. The yearning inside to create a sanctuary for the both of us was too keen to ignore.

A small 100 year old wooden cottage, set on just over an acre carved out of natural thick bushland and bordered by a creek, became our haven. Our sanctuary. Our Secret Hollow.

From ephemeral gypsy to bohemian 'home' maker.

During the sixteen years we lived there, we loved, fought, adopted and cared for animals of all kinds - domestic and wild, renovated, created beautiful gardens and most important, raised our wonderful son.
We weren't rich, not in financial terms, but we were happy.

I have the very best memories of that magical little place. It had an enchantment about it. A certain "something" - a Genius Loci.
For the first time in my life, I really felt connected enough to truly honour the title of home. For, I felt I was at home in my heart and soul as well as my physical being.
Time went by in a blissful haze.

Employment opportunities for my husband deemed it necessary for us to move on and the following years have seen us imbue life, love and good vibes into various dwellings - rented and owned.
Lack of connection and security in my childhood years combined with the knowledge of what can truly make a house a home, motivate me to create a sanctuary for my family wherever we go and for however long we are there.

One day at work a few years ago, I was asked by a co-worker, "if you could be anywhere else in the world but here, where would you be?"  Without hesitation, I replied,
"home, in a heartbeat".