Written 22 May, 2020
I wake after a night of little sleep to GG telling me that my rowboat has come adrift at one end.
It’s alright, he says as I jump up. You’ve got time.
His voice grates against my stupor.
It’s light, 6.30. I rush to the doors and see it tossing helplessly, straining to leave GG’s yacht, where it’s tethered.
Boats coming loose at one end have a disastrous history for us.The yellow and orange Hercules, a strong sturdy boat and the dream of GG’s life, was smashed like that. A friend of mine was living here for three years, someone who knew boats, she said and we believed. But then came the night she only tied it at one end, and in the morning, about the same grey hour, in the city we got the fatal phone call. it had swung around on the high tide in a gale, and got crushed under the pontoon. Nothing could save it. A friendship can’t stand a loss like that. And GG has forgiven me, but hasn’t forgotten. It comes into his mind at times and he murmurs The Herc, and I know to be soft and careful with him. It sits in the bay, slowly dying.
I toss on track suit and shoes, run down the forty steps, grab the boat hook from the motor boat and pull on the rope to bring it around beside the yacht but the back rope has broken off, along with its cleat, and it’s half full of sloshing rainwater. It’s normally so biddable, but today it comes like a heavy, drunken man, straining against the wind, rocking wildly, the water inside see-sawing. I hold on to its side, pleading with it to help me. I can’t think how to begin to rescue it. GG ‘s suddenly there, suddenly softer.
Don’t break your fingers, he warns, so I hold onto its side more carefully. He pushes it round from its stern towards me. He’s come with a strong rope which we tie around the middle seat and hook onto a yacht cleat. But it still scrapes against the yacht with every wave- our quiet bay is all white water breakers today- and he pokes a rope through a hole in the front seat, and ties on a fender and a second one, fat, shaped like a dolphin.
It’ll be fine now, he says, and it is. I love him for this rescue.
And then the day becomes kind. Moxham is coming at last tomorrow for the rubbish. I work on my chapter for a couple of hours and then after morning coffee put on the clothes I’ve soaked in Coprex to keep off the ticks and then dried in front of the fire- I learned my lesson not to take risks with ticks the other day- and go down the track to ask Dy’s help to drag the rest of the water tank down the cliff. I need him to bring his chain saw, for a fallen dead tree is pinning the tank pieces down. He has to charge it, so while he does, I cart his rubbish, sheets of rusted iron, down the track and out to the jetty, We’re jokey and kind to each other. Last night I said to K:
I can’t believe he has to die.
It’s a crying shame, she said.
I glanced quickly at her, and nodded. I’m not used to her using that old-fashioned phrase. Death seems very close sometimes. A tango friend died of cancer at Christmas. I couldn’t believe it was happening, but it happened. He was always such a terrible dancer, the sort of dancer you avoided, and then, suddenly, just before his death, he learned how to move his body. At times, in fleeting moments, he dances with me still.
Dy saws the fallen tree into smaller pieces.
You can finish it off when you get your little chain saw.
I nod, tossing pieces of iron. Now there’s a most admirable pile near the burning off pit.
Good toss, he says.
I never did this sort of thing as a kid, I say. I had to sit around and be a lady.
Do you think I did? he asks. I had assumed he would’ve, that he’d have had a childhood like my brothers, all open air and mucking around playing with junk in the backyard. Dad was an artist but a handyman to keep us alive. Our backyards were never gardens, but piles of old taps, pipes, tyres, the occasional rusting bath tub, sheets of plywood, masonite, asbestos, slumped brown bags of concrete gone hard in the rain.
i don’t know Dy well enough to ask questions.
K has cooked us lunch of lentil pasta with oil and garlic. (I add the garlic) Poor thing, she’s recovered her sweetness after her oregano OD, and suddenly she’s a blessing to us all. As she was meant to be. We offer a bowl to Dy but he’ll only accept a cup of tea.
We tell him about Aldi. He’s expecting a flat pack desk to do his IT on, meant to be delivered the day before ours. He tells us to go to the exit of Aldi, the vast hall where they store everything, armed with the code numbers to find our curtains.
Don’t they tell you off?
That’s no one’s job. They just tell you where the entrance is.
So we’ll do that.
In the afternoon, I struggle again with my chapter. Much of my research notes are quotes from the neuroscientist who’s going to look at it. She’s always seemed to me to think in the way I do. I may laugh at myself later, but in my head she’s become my friend, walking along beside me in the bush, pointing out things I can’t see.
When I peter out, I cook dinner- a roast chicken, a whole pumpkin – I’ll cut it up when its soft and make easy soup for tomorrow’s lunch,- and since we’re out of bread, an Aldi Has No bread mix.Last time we ran out of bread, I made up an Ogram bread mix, but found it called for 5 eggs, when we had none. I googled what to do without eggs, and a web site said fizzy water would fix it, but the loaf cooked only to a crumble and had to be spooned out of its pan.
The Has NO mix works perfectly. A delicious dinner of warm fresh bread, chicken and sweet potato, and a simple lettuce salid with garden herbs – no oregano for K. I fall asleep on the sofa, and wake at 11 o’clock. The house is quiet and warm from the fire, an island in a rainy wilderness. And I’m proud of the pile of iron I can’t see but it’s out there near the burning off pit, marvelling with me at the woman this escape is making.