Monday, September 30, 2019

Situation, Balmy

We went down to the shore to watch the spring tide come in so fast it made waves. Tuesday and it will be a 'King Spring' tide, the biggest all year at 1.5 metres.

Surprise! Hermit crabs wriggle away from me when I'd though it was only shells at my feet. Water rushes in to the littoral, the in between space of land and sea. The stumps of the old pearl workers' huts in the sand and scraps of copper with nail holes ... band aids for wooden boats.
Mangrove spikes in the mud and a boy wearing a red shirt stepping through the mud with a spear in his hand.

I walk down to the diving girl early next morning. It's Grand Final Day and a forklift driver is busy unloading pallets of beer, speakers blaring reggae from the gas bottle on the back. Crows call from the Boab and then begin to mimic another bird, a call I don't recognise. Two legged walking clever one that crow. A hawk with a stick in its beak alights on another feathery tree.

Past the old pearl masters' houses nestled behind the primary dune, tropical constructions of corrugated iron and lattice.

And back to my abode for the weekend ... looxury ... an outside shower in what feels like a jungle. The jungle seems to sleep in the heat of the day and come alive at night as the palms rustle and crash and screech with owls and critters and possums.

Those dynamic tides and sudden changes in water level are similar to my inlet but on a vaster scale and I think it would be way too cold to have a shower like this at home.


The diving girl, Broome. Although the plaque below doesn't say so, pearling masters used Aboriginal women as well as men to skin dive for pearl shell until it was outlawed in the north. Pregnant women apparently had heightened lung capacity.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Crow, meet Eagle

A flap of enormous wings and a shadow over the forest. She's a daily visitor and my dog finds her entertainment shaking fist (or a paw) at the giant sea eagle who would steal her fish and her bones. But today it was the Wardong (Crow) who was also harrassing the eagle:

This month I'm heading to Broome to conduct a writing workshop. Broome!

 If anyone is up in Kimberly Country, I'd love you to join in. We will be finding and developing stories from pearling to pastoralism, from turquoise tidal seas to pindan. It's a rich, diverse history and landscape and I'm very excited to be involved.

Monday, September 9, 2019

A beach today

If you have a look at the previous post, there is the same tree. Underwater on Saturday, it now has a car parked beside it.

Friday, September 6, 2019

A beach tomorrow perhaps

               The inlet this morning ... tannin stained water from the rush down of the rivers. Waves have been smashing into the bush the last few days with all this wild weather.

This morning in the gloaming I heard the son of the man-who-was-sucked-out-to-sea put his boat in just down from my place. His father was cutting the sand bar to let the inlet out to sea, when the inlet collected him up like a cuttle bone and took the old man with it. Waves crashing in from the sea ... his boat went through the second wave and he was never seen again.

And now the inlet is about to blow its banks again and he is the old man's son, heading out to the bar. I have a feeling there may be a brand new beach in the morning.

This is my guardian tree, or what Holly calls the mammary tree. She guards my gate, the warty old lady.

Sunday, September 1, 2019


In the dark of night ...
I was breathing, in a blue shirt, pant-less, into my mother's arms. Look into my eyes and breathe, she said, and I thought that was very strange. I dropped my waters onto the bathroom floor and still my mum was unfazed. Still time to go, she said.

My mum retold this story at his funeral recently and when she began I thought 'Oh my God! Mum's really gonna go there.' And go there she did, describing the birth of Stormboy in the dark of night.

We'd decided to have a hospital birth. It wasn't my choice. I would happily have given birth at home but my partner wanted the white coats in attendance. It was a tussle between us: I felt strong enough to eschew doctors and he didn't, is what it boiled down to. So a decision but not really a choice. When my waters crashed to the bathroom floor, both us realised it was time to go. My labour had quickened within an hour or so.

Mum was with us in the Kombi as we hurtled up the main street towards the hospital. He and I had previously gone over our route. Go Aberdeen Street, I'd said. No speed humps there.

He had some kind of blood rush and chose the main street, driving over the granite speed humps like someone possessed, as I stood in the back of the Kombi, holding the side rails. Badoosh! Badoosh! Badoosh! I believe that Stormboy was rattled out of me during that drive. We got to a roundabout and I said to mum, it's coming mum, it's coming.

She checked the baby, at which stage I yelled at her to not push that child back inside me. It was an odd call. I was in so much pain, I dunno where my head was at really. Anyway, we got to the next roundabout and my child was crowning, about to be born, and mum told him to stop the car.

Stop the car, my mum said.

I can't stop the car, he said. I'm on a roundabout.

He pulled over just after the roundabout and Stormboy was born in a Kombi on the side of the road. It was past 1300 and all of the city lights had just blinked out. Mum literally caught that kid in the dark. It was a pitch black no moon night. Stormboy was quiet, cool and silent as I pressed him to my breast. He felt shocked at this sudden turn of events. Mum and Stormboy's dad scrambled around in the Kombi for a torch. Someone threw me a towel and I wrapped it over my newborn. These minutes seemed to go on for hours.

Then Stormboy's father found the Dolphin torch, turned it on and shone it directly into our son's face. We heard his first breath and then him exhale with a decent scream. It's boy! The first boy born in three decades. Stormboy's dad climbed back into the driver's seat. My mum climbed into the passenger's seat and we continued to the hospital, me, sitting in the back seat of the Kombi, holding a brand new child,  heaving, cranking, thrilling with post birth endorphins.