Day one

Written 21/3/20

I always wake early. I always lie looking at the water, marvelling at being here. I always listen to the deep blue silence and remember that we’re out of the city. And then memory comes to me, creeping, slithering, snaking. What’s happening in the city, the city and the people we love. What we ran from. Who we ran from. We ran from sickness, where people might die. Where the government doesn’t care that people might die, as long as they can watch the footie. Where people don’t realise they’re in danger, because they haven’t always been waiting for it, waiting for the moment when they must run. The moment like now.

I swing my legs onto the floor, guilty. Maybe other people can’t run, have no where to run. Are tied to jobs. Family. But we’ve run, we’re not going back. We can’t bring other people. Besides, they may not want to run. And now we’ve run, we must make it work.

The stillness says it’s going to be a hot day. A brilliant sun already, a 34 degree day but cool so far. We’re in the bed in the little cabin below the big house because K insists hers is the double bed in the big house and it’s true, it was always her bed, and it’s too heavy to move to the cabin. I start to allow myself to feel relieved, that we ran, We got here. I love the little cabin, I love small spaces like nests. It feels like a nest floating on the shining surface of the bay. GG, though he’s twice my height, seems to love it too. He chooses to write here, though in the big house, the other room is called his study. Here in this tiny cabin, I’m lying inside the library of my lifetime. When I was 20, i determined that I’d have a copy of every novel I loved, and now all they ring around me, alphabetically arranged minds on every wall except the front wall, which is big glass doors and windows looking out to sea.
I sling on a gown in case someone’s in the bay or a fisherman’s going past, or Carl the professional fisherman’s streaming up the creek, possibly as far as the waterfall, big prawn nets trawling behind him. He secretly has a big heart. When we sheltered my friend W here for 3 years, he told her to leave a sign out the window if she ever needed help. A red towel. He’d always see it as he went by, he told her. She never needed help.
he doesn’t know I know it, but I always smile at him when i see him mooring at DB’s.

‘You have a big heart,’ I think.
As i’ve got older I’ve come to my senses and realised that’s what matters. I used to think it was intelligence but I met many intelligent people who lacked kindness. Now I know it’s kindness.

Once he told B, and B told me as we clambered on our boat, me hauling a huge bright Desiguel handbag of many colours, red and green flowers and swirls, bought at a sale and my pride and joy, that he thought it was an awful handbag.
‘He has a kind heart,’ I told B.
“it’s a perfect handbag,’ said B, who also has a big, kind heart.

i climb the steps, make a pot of tea on the gas stove- always the luxury of a pot of tea here – a piece of toast, the toaster powered by the sun, heap avocado on top, a squeeze of lemon from our own fledgling tree, and a squeeze of Aldi’s BBQ salt, and sip and eat, standing watching the water. I turn on RN ABC but turn it off again when I hear 800 people are sick, and I’m sick with fear for the city I love, for everyone I know, for everyone i don’t know. GG appears on the top step, sleepily makes coffee,says his shoulder’s bad, then peers down to the pontoon and complains that I left celery and tomatoes and sweet potatoes there last night. I argue that wallabies and possums don’t come on the jetty, but it’s true we must rescue them from the heat. So despite his pain, we work through the morning. I load the flying fox, he unloads it. K stacks the food and in between boxfuls, puts on the robot vacuum cleaner, chortling with laughter at its mindless busyness. It’s a novelty for her.

‘Let’s set out fishing lines,’ I say to G.
‘Not yet. I’ve had it,’ says GG. ‘You always want to do everything at once.’
He leaves for bed.

I’m cranky. I want to set up everything at once.
But I sit on the sofa to read the manuscripts of students till I too fall asleep.

In the afternoon, I find a packet in the kitchen table drawer of the spinach seeds for my new life as a farmer, but they expired October last year. Perhaps there’s a chance. We’ve been lucky so far. In the cool of the evening, I’ll plant some in the veggie garden, in a line, so that if they come up,I’ll know they’re not just weeds. I don’t know what a spinach seedling looks like, but surely a little green line will tell. For when we’re away, the garden has a sprinkler which waters the veggie garden with grey water for 3 minutes twice a day, until the little grey water tank runs dry, or the sprinkler gets caked with dirt. But now,i’ll turn off the sprinkler because I’m here, and I’m going to be a farmer in my new life. And soon, I hope, a fisherwoman.

And then I put out chicken legs from the packed freezer to BBQ for our dinner, They’re easy. I’ll start on the hard things later. For now, the easy ones.And peel carrots and wash lettuce. I’ll start easy, with what I know. The hard times will come soon enough. For the moment, we’ve made it.

2 Responses to Day one

  1. Hi Sue! I’ve been directed to your blog via the wonderful S.Davis, and have found reading your posts to be a delightful and thought-provoking exercise. I thought it fitting to make my first contribution on this post: Day 1.
    This statement in particular resonated with me –
    “As i’ve got older I’ve come to my senses and realised what matters. I used to think it was intelligence, but I met many intelligent people who lacked kindness. Now I know it’s kindness.”
    I work at RPA Hospital, a bustling environment at the best of times. Three years into my career as a health professional, I’ve discovered more and more the value of kindness. Often, more than anything else, the sick want someone who will comfort, someone who will listen, someone who really cares. Yes, the staff provide life-saving physical care to our patients. But it is the kindness that is remembered; it is the compassion that touches people’s hearts and minds, and allows them to truly heal.
    Since this pandemic has hit, we have been cheered by the public as “heroes”. However, many of the so-called “Healthcare Heroes”, myself included, shy away from that label. It feels strange to suddenly have all this gratitude and recognition. We’re just doing our jobs, after all. We’re doing what we’ve always done: care for the sick. Coronavirus isn’t the first infectious disease to present in our hospitals; this isn’t the first time health professionals have put themselves in harm’s way to help someone in need. To sign up to work in a hospital – to be a Nurse, a Doctor, a Physiotherapist, a Social Worker – is to implicitly agree to doing all that you can to help the sick. That’s a constant, pandemic or no pandemic. Perhaps this just mean that we’ve been heroes all along?
    Perhaps. But we’re not the only ones. Everywhere I look, I see heroes. I see a hero in my sister, a lawyer, who is dedicating her life to helping vulnerable communities. I see a hero in my mother, a teacher, who passionately works to empower her students, to show them that they can be so much more than the limitations they place on themselves. I see a hero in my best friend J, who will go out of his way – every single time – to actively encourage, inspire and uplift the people around him. I see a hero in anyone who provides help to the vulnerable; anyone who creates a ripple effect with their kindness; anyone works to make this world that little bit better.
    So yes, you can keep calling us ‘heroes’, maybe we are. But likely, so are you.

  2. Beth, thank you for your comments. Please stay with us, whenever you can. Your perspective is one we all need – Sue

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