Written 18 July, 2020.
In Melbourne, the news is that the entire second wave came about because a security guard slept with one of the overseas travellers he was supposed to be guarding. She unknowingly had the virus, he unknowingly caught it, went home, gave it to his family including a brother who works in an abattoir and another in school, and it has spread and spread. Beryl Berejiklian our NSW premier has refused to close our borders to Victoria, so spread to our state was sure to happen. It happened. One of the family was a freight driver who drove to a pub in Casula, NSW, stopped for a drink and unknowingly spread it there. We’re watching it come closer to K. A gym in Casula. A restaurant in Sans Souci. Paddington.
Let’s get K, we say almost in unison. The plan is to go to the city tomorrow, I’m to have a real-life face-to-face meeting with my professor on Monday, we’ll return on Wednesday, with k and my friend Rosalie who’s been working two jobs, one looking after her mother, the delightful 90 year old Marg, and her paid job at Neura. As well as a demanding family. She badly needs a break. And K needs rescuing.
Last night, my favourite neighbours came back, the warm-hearted, generous, self-admitting hermits but party-loving S and I – to our great joy. I waved to them on their jetty in broad, welcoming strokes from my upper deck. it’s part of the river etiquette that you never visit someone for a while after they arrive. You know that they must unload their supplies, check their freezer to see if the food has gone off, check there’s no snakes under the bed or worse, in it, sweep out the rat pooh, find dry firewood and kindling, check the power to see if it’ll hold for the night, and make dinner.
But this morning she rang and soon after, she was sitting on my deck. By this time, S and Dy were cutting down trees to give the two houses more sunshine. We chatted for over an hour, me telling her all the gossip, her telling me their’s. They’ve bought a house at P Beach, and she’s had fun setting it up, buying furniture and knickknacks on E Bay.
How’s K? she asked. I love K.
You see how heart-warming she is.
As she left, she marvelled over our community power system, still a work in progress, depending on Dy’s ingenuity. I gave her the pots of seedlings I’d planted for her in April. I no longer need an app to tell who they are – a recognisable lettuce, several spinaches and two corianders spreading out their little heart shaped leaves. I’m very proud as i watch her carry them home. I seem like someone who can grow veggies and give them to my fiends – but you know how easily that mask may fall off!
While I’m raking the mud, S arrives.
I want to live here, not there, he says, facing the bay.
Because of this.
He swings out his builder’s strong arms to embrace the expanse of water, the expanse of sky.
And because there’s a community here.
Then he tells me a sad story I’d never known. That Marra Marra was offered free electricity. All the other bays were given a grant. We could’ve been on the grid. Only two households wanted it, and there had to be a majority.
He names a year. Many of those people have gone. And that was a terrible year for us. GG and I had separated. it got too hard to raise an autistic daughter. Neither of us came to Marra Marra. I took K as far away as I could, to an indigenous community in the northern territory, and when i came back i wrote The Oldest Song in the World. We got back together after four years, but during that time was the vital vote.
He say he’ll look for the email. Most people have better solar than ours- because their neighbours visit often and keep the trees in check- but if the grant is still going, he’ll ask them to at least vote for it, even if they don’t want to use it. They needn’t click in, so they won’t get bills. He’ll ask them to vote for it for the good of the community.
And raking away, I wonder if the virus has taught us to do things, even if you personally don’t want them, for the common good.