Sunday, 29 November 2015

the familiar road

The 100km drive from Launceston to Devonport has become a familiar one the last six months. It has become a weekly journey, sometimes more than once. Friday will mark a turning point, the last time I will visit my father in his own home. Friday is moving day. A room has become available at The Manor (an Aged Care Home here in Launceston where my father was on the waiting list) and he has accepted. With resignation and sadness he has made his decision, choosing to embrace the inevitable before he has no choice at all. It was with sudden realisation that my father remembered coming to this country almost 60 years ago with one suitcase and to him it feels that he will leave his home on Friday with one suitcase. He wonders about the meaning of the years in between, the accumulation of possessions, what he thought was important and what really matters. He started with nothing and it feels to him that it is ending with nothing, a very difficult 'truth' to swallow.

Of course there is family and he will take literally more than one suitcase of possessions to his new 'room' and he still has money, although it is now all tied up in a deposit managed by The Manor that pays for his care. But those are not the things that he is thinking about. He is feeling, not thinking, and he is feeling the loss all that he spent his life working for. All of his life compacted to one room and 'all' of his money no longer in his name or his account, his unit to be sold and the proceeds to complete the deposit he has made.

It is going to be a rocky week and a rocky month, a roller coaster of a ride with grief and loss and regret. Each of my sisters and I are impacted by his pain and the journey ahead feels long and sad.

Monday, 23 November 2015

click go the shears

My sister rescued some baby lambs last year. They have grown fat and woolly. Today the 'sheep barber' paid a visit.

one fat woolly sheep

round em up

mobile shearing, from the back of a ute - the old fella and the young fella

the audience

you have got to be kidding

did it hurt?

playing dead

Oh the indignity

I can't look

a pedicure to finish off

how do we look?

Aww I look stupid

Thursday, 19 November 2015

last and first

There is nothing like tomatoes from your own garden. Firm to the touch, a mishmash of shapes, sizes and colour, an aroma that is summer and a taste that is divine. I used the last of my stash from the freezer to make pasta sauce last week, sweet and intense, rich and red.

My father's veggie garden produces an abundance in summer, we freeze and bottle the ripe, red fruit to last the year through. There will be no abundance this summer, my father is no longer able to tend a veggie garden. For the first time that I can remember there will be no tomatoes and basil in his garden, in fact there will nothing other than the parsley which has self sown during the year. He can no longer dig and plant, water and tend, he can no longer bend down or potter around. His garden will be barren and bare, empty of green and life. It is an ending, this garden with no tomatoes, a symbol of the beginning of the end. Once it was a green garden of living things; productive, inventive, creative, sustaining and now it is brown bare earth covered with yellow mulch and seeding parsley clinging to life near the concrete edge. His own life mirrors that of his garden, green to brown and yellow, life leeching away. And yet there is some life still, that parsley which stubbornly persists and my father who maintains hope. They will both stay a while longer in the place that is home, until my father goes into respite care in a few weeks and at some point permanent care thereafter. He will move on to what comes next and the garden will be cared for by another. Endings and beginnings.

And when I had used the last of my tomatoes for my pasta sauce, I came home one day to find a gift from my mother, the first of tomatoes from her garden. Last and first, endings and beginnings, the story of renewal that is hope.

Monday, 16 November 2015

the long drive

Colin and I are steadily edging towards 'old people' territory; we went for a sunday drive! We want to make the most of our two years here, and exploring the nooks and crannies of this beautiful state is high on the list. Sunday found us in the far north west, our final destination Stanley and our task - to climb 'The Nut'. It was many kilometres and hours later that we achieved our goal. True to form, we kept getting side tracked along the way. The drive from Launceston to Devonport (where my father lives) is familiar, as is Ulverstone (where Colin grew up) and Burnie (where he had relatives as a child). It was further west that was unfamiliar, places that we had visited once or twice as children, the memories distant and hazy. It is a land of farms and bush and it is west of Burnie that the coastline becomes spectacular. Such beauty, isolated and unspoilt, enjoyed by so few.

Our first side track was to Table Cape, a headland that juts into the sea. It is not often that a fertile farming land sits atop a cape, is there a more beautiful place to farm than this? (most of the photos were taken from inside a moving car - mmm not the best)

A little further up the road and we got side tracked again - Boat Harbour, the go to place for summer holidays by the sea. Typical of Tasmanian beaches - beautiful and freezing cold. Not that the locals seemed to mind, a day in the low twenties is a 'warm day' here, even if the wind blows cold. Shorts and tshirts were the attire of choice and there were people actually swimming without a wetsuit. And much to Colin's delight there were waves and even some surfers making the most of what was on offer. Colin had a swim of course.

Another side track off the side track was Sister's Beach, 7 km up the road. We had to have a look of course. Another of those places in Tasmania where the road literally ends. The beach sits aside a National Park, there is a small general store, a cafe, a playground, toilet block and car park and that's it. There are holiday houses - some are shacks and some are not. Lucky are the people that live/holiday here. I wonder how many people actually know about this place. It is just so darn far away from anywhere.

It was our stomach's that insisted we get back on track and get to Stanley. We were in danger of missing the two hour slot that is lunch here, a lot of kitchen's close at 2pm. Stanley sits at the bottom of 'The Nut', which is a 143 metre high volcanic plug, rising from Bass Strait. We ate lunch contemplating the walk up, a very steep 500 metre zig zag track. The amazing views from the top made the ascent worthwhile and the walking track around the top was equally spectacular.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

green's beach

There was supposed to be some surf at Green's Beach today. Colin wanted to see if it was true. It wasn't. There was some sun and some blue sky and the water was turquoise, clear and cold, but there were no waves.

We walked part of the coastal track instead. It was strange to be walking in bush and hear the sea, to be surrounded by brown and green and then turn a corner and see blue.

It is a rocky coast, grey boulders speckled with orange lichen, secluded beaches and coves and the occasional sandy shore.

As usual Colin braved the cold and took a dip. Ever hopeful, he suggested I might like to join him. As if! And especially 'as if' when it is skinny dipping and when within minutes of his getting out and being partially clothed I hear voices and some fishermen emerge from the path...

Thursday, 5 November 2015

falling petals

There has been a bunch of roses sitting on my table, my sister gathered them from her garden. They were a beautiful living presence, their colour brightening the day and their perfume scenting the air. Now their petals are falling and their life is beginning to wither away. Always there are endings of one kind or another...

Monday, 2 November 2015

bridport walking track

We almost didn't go, the weather forecast was for showers but the thought of being stuck at home all day was unappealing, so we packed rain coats and walking shoes and went anyway. An hours drive north and we left the raincoats in the car and got out the sunscreen instead. We didn't intend to walk the whole 11.6 km, just make a start, exit along the way and head to a cafe for lunch. Over two and a half hours later (there was a bit of stopping for photos along the way!) we had completed the circuit, feeling very pleased with ourselves and anticipating some lunch.

One of the reasons we kept walking was that each section of the track was so different:

We started at Eastmans Beach and walked past Old Pier Beach, the track following the coast for a bit.

The path turns from the coast and becomes scrubby bush, accentuated by wildflowers and tall barren trees.

Then everything becomes black and grey, charred and covered with ash. The burn off was recent, the smell of blackened wood and ash remains.

Black gives way to green, destruction to new life, a luscious living carpet and white jewelled flowers standing tall on a stem.

The carpet of grass gives way to a carpet of ferns and in their midst tall, brown and straight stand the trunks of a multitude of trees.

The path follows a creek for a short while and then there is a crossing, a construct of steel linking one side to another.

Finally we return to the coast, to finish where we began.

Colin commented that he must have the most photographed back in Tasmania, so here's one from the front!