On the morning drive for ice to chill the day’s refreshments, Beaufort Park offers contrasting beautiful visions.
Weekend afternoons regularly feature scratch cricket matches between itinerant sub-continentals, even in the depths of the footy season. Circling the boundary with Shandy the Wonder Dog on the day before the World Cup final, I asked an outfielder if he was supporting India or Sri Lanka? He looked bemused. “We are Bangla Deshi.”
At 10 on Christmas morning, two teams are lined up in their whites (no coloured T-shirts or track pants today) either side of the pitch. One Nepalese and the other Bangla Deshi. They file past shaking hands with a sincerity that is lost to the arranged marriages of Boxing Day tests. God bless the diversity, tolerance and opportunity of Australia.
In the far corner, a concrete telephone pole is garlanded in fresh flowers. An Australia Post motor bike and rider was squashed against it four years ago. I remember walking STWD and encountering the desolate husband propped against the pole a month after the tragedy. I nodded. Because there seemed no words. Grief is a process not an event. A process that recedes but never ends.
The Christmas Dam has finally broken. For a month the pace of work, life and catch-ups builds like winter floods. Yesterday the dam wall broke and the pent-up celebrations overflowed. Today there is only a slow trickle left in all of us.
The Test starts at 7.30 in Perth. Noone moves. Waiting for the lunch break, to have built up enough energy to make it to the shop again for milk and papers.
I watch neighbours struggling up the shallow incline of our street. Everything is half the pace of the last month. It is only 30 degrees (mild for Perth) but sandals have been mysteriously treacle-soled overnight. Each step is a conscious process of extraction and repetition. Few are up to the task.
The MCG: The Bold and the Beautiful
In the afternoon we take the 4 hour drive to our South Coast holiday rental located between Denmark (not Europe) and Albany (not the capital of New York state). Go Betweens; Dexys; Laura Nyro; Bruce – 40 minutes an album then a cricket score check. When we arrive the Test is still optional. I have 3 books and a commitment to read them over the next week. My reading these days is like 20-20 cricket. There is a lot of it, but it is scattered into fragments of Almanac, web sites and magazines. I fear I have developed Watto and Warner’s intolerance for the long form, so at Christmas each year I make reading whole novels my priority for the week. It lends a languid, welcome pace to the rest of life.
The Avenging Eagle does the same. She eschews Brooke Logan and Forrester/Spencer familial feuds for the week. There are long periods where nothing happens, and then short periods of frantic action. War, cricket and soapies. Check back in after hours, days or weeks and it all seems inevitable – whatever the ensuing score or plotline. “I predicted this.” War, cricket and soapies.
A Broad Church
It takes 3 days to find out that our holiday house owner’s wifi stretches to our accommodation. I get the password and link into e-world and i-world for the first time in 3 days. “E-I-owe; E-I-owe; its off to work we go.” The behind the scenes wrangling in the Almanac community over the appropriate Festivus greeting has crowded out the Syrian conflict while I was disconnected. Sets me wondering how broad the Almanac church can be, and what are the limits for tolerance of the views of those we disagree with.
One of my favourite writers/poets is Mary Karr – author of ‘Liars Club’; ‘Cherry’ and ‘Lit’. I check out her Facebook page most days at https://www.facebook.com/MaryKarrLit.
She is my age; but 24 years sober; a cafeteria catholic; who composes country music with Rodney Crowell and Emmylou Harris; and writes poetry that makes words and my heart sing.
I periodically cut and paste my favourites of her assembled wit and wisdom. These are my recent gatherings:
“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations : cited on 11/12/13
“Why do I write? Because for my first decade on this earth, books were a balm for loneliness that was 100% available as human units seldom are. So I wanted to try rescuing someone as I was rescued. And I longed to enter the conversation with my betters.”
“Somebody asked me tonight how I made it outa my particular postage stamp of misery (i.e., my own skull). My life was saved by books and mental health professionals, librarians and bookstore owners and codependent teachers. (Are you listening, Miz Dixie?) Also a few rock solid friends and a lifetime of students who let me fall in love with poetry over and over. Y’all know who you are. I do to. Grateful.”
I am too.