The phone rings
earlish in the morning.
Another warm spring day with the ultimate in blue sky.
A soft breeze after the buffeting of high-rise gusts .
I had just launched my self onto the bed where John was enjoying a cuppa and a read.
We discuss my frame of mind my anxiety racket that I suckled from my mother’s breast and the difficulty of changing.
Is that sandy ? a tiny voice asks
Not many still the claim the sandy connection.
Is that sandy?
And simultaneously as the sobbing breaks over the line like a wave launching itself upon a cliff I recognise Carole’ s voice.
Me instant panic WHAT I shout back to her.
John emerges from the bedroom stops and waits to know who is disturbed …. a daughter a son a sister a father a friend.
I mouth Carole at him and he continues on to the kitchen.
Oh lovey what is it, my voice softening and I reach out to take the pain away to heal to fix to make better.
This is what I want to do when faced with breakdown.
They are coming to cut the trees down along the road. Them council fellas.
it is that that man up the back stirring up trouble.
They can’t do it Sandy and her voice rises and shrieks and words tumble haphazardly into my ear while I murmur soothing sounds.
They can’t take the pittosporum away my banks will collapse.
he says he is going to take them all out
I would rather die than let them do it.
the environment protection mob said the banks had to be left alone. this country is prone to erosion.
They’ re coming at 11. I need support .I don’t know what to do I’ve been sick and couldn’t get out of bed and now this. I can’t take it anymore Sandy.
And a fresh wave rises from deep within and crashes over the phone and spills onto the floor at my feet.
I am on my way to Bega Carole can you ring the council and talk to them?
explain it , quote what the EPA says.
You cant talk to them she says they don’t listen.
What about Keith?
Poor Keith our only green’ s councilor.
The only councilor that stood up for our beautiful gum trees in the park in Bega
And today in council he was trying a motion to ask for the last one the last magnificent tree to be left alone.
What about Ray ? I ask, the neighbour that bought Banyo and Cheryl’s place. Ray is standing as an independent so he can have his say about forests and rivers and solar power and respect.
good on you Ray who is funding himself at a $1000 plus just so he can have a say for the earth on behalf of all of us.
He’s in Wollongong working.
What about the EPA ? Make some calls and I will get back to you.
Ok she says.
I take it to John in front of Stanley who listens in to all our conversations.
how many times have we heard this? John says
you cant fix it . I know but..
Just have your day it ‘ll be alright. look after yourself.
I nod agreement get dressed and ring Carole. no answer .
The car is farting round not wanting to idle being sluggy.
maybe not the day to drive, maybe it is telling me to stay home.
I decide to go a bit further and see if it comes right . ( it doesn’t)
Despite my assurance that I am not going to Caroles the car heads up link road and turns right onto Yowrie road past santa claus ‘s place on the corner and the new tin house where all the pine trees were cut down past Phillipe and his forge at the graceful Galba homestread past Leilas and Hughs who is now in Malawi and round the corner into Illawambra creek road.
No answer at the house so I drive on up the hill. Beside the dog skulls on the fence is the council machine ready to begin. I get out he gets out.
We meet in the middle of the road.
Have you seen Carole?
She’s up there and further along the track is a figure all in black shuffling very slowly .
She rang me very upset.
yes he says I have talked to her , she is alright now.
This roadside vegetation is very important to her.
somehow he looks different to other drivers I have met, a smile a willingness open a compassion for Carole perhaps.
Driving on I stop beside Carole and hop out holding my arms open
she collapses into me sobbing.
All the smells of the farm are there the lanolin the sheep manure the hay feed clinging to her tights
Her hair a lavish burgundy colour her fingernails luminous blue. her toes shaped like claws clutch the earth thru her thongs, the nails also blue. from the knees her legs splay way out to the sides.
no one should have to walk like that.
How does she manage to keep up this farmiong business we wonder time and time again???
This is why I am here to embrace this beautiful being to hold her close to my heart and cherish her.
What about going back home as I relinquish her weight out of my arms .
He’s alright he is not going to do anything silly that other fellow didn’t come this is a new one.
You can train him I say, she laughs and hops in the car.
he will be a while she says so we’ll go look at the road. Two days they spent up there she harumphs.
All because of the man up the back he wants a super highway well why doesnt he go live somewhere else.
Like the water we follow stories bubble and meander thru now and then.
At the crossing we meet the chatty Illawambra creek and it is here we used to pick our buckets of blackberries from hedges that towered over our heads . For years Carole protected them, no sprays ever came near them but eventually the machine took them out as her ability to stride up the valley faltered.
Now it is all piles of pushed over dirt lying in wait for the next flood to slide the remaining couple of metres into the creek.
the giant river she-oaks softly whisper and wave, a young black wallaby watches us then darts across the road.
Once we used to stay in this valley when Banyo Chez Bree and Johnny lived here back before they sold to Ray. We explored the hills the gullies ancient fig trees hidden in clefts orchids and clematis draped over quartz rocks . We visitied the middle of the valley where the old pioneer slab hut is to say hello to the hundreds of grey kangaroos that call this place home.
Once the children splashed and jumped in joy with this creek .
Once they collected the fluff out of that prickle bush whose name totally eludes me so I could make them tiny fairy pillows.
And up above us the dumpling with its bald rock on which we would sit and dream.
and all the times we had sleep outs up there under full moon watching sunsets and sunrises.
I turn around on the flat where once we grew pumpkins .
We return to watch the machine that is extending its long long arm to clip the tips of shrubs and trees.
he gets out and comes over to us.
there is a cherry tree up further you won’t touch that will you? Carole is stronger now .
not if you don’t want me to, he says
and the culvert don’t push anything in there
no and if any gets in I will spoon it out, he is smiling.
got a spoon on that thing have you ?
and he cups his hands together to show her.
she laughs he laughs.
I take Carole back to the house.
it is going to be alright this time.