Saturday, February 29, 2020

The Red Queen

According to the most ancient of traditions, rather than being a ruler, the king was a sacrificial victim offered up (and frequently eaten) to maintain the prosperity of his people. It was the very power and dignity bestowed upon him that gave his sacrifice such a unique power. For the ritual to attain its fullest force, the sacrifice must be performed by the queen, who hunts the king in the primordial bogs and consumes him once he is martyred. The issue of this union is the Red Queen, who is neither king nor queen but androgynous. By this process the flesh is transubstantiated into spirit.

From The Dark Mountain Project, Axes for a Frozen Sea.

Artists Nicholas Khan and Richard Selesnick. The Martyr's Augury.

Big Cloud Town

It's been wonderful up the tower recently with all the stormy weather. Huge systems range around the skies, mostly to the north, where lightning has caused a few fires in the next district. Fingers crossed.

Below is the lightning map for the last two days. Apparently, if it gets close to the tower I have to stand on the wooden floor and not touch anything. Methinks I'd be out of there long before lightning arrives for a visit.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Inlet idyll

I intended on letting my fiftieth birthday slide quietly by and let people know that whenever they asked me where the party was. As it turned out, it kinda became my own little New Year's reckoning or ... not resolution-making ... a way of framing my future and how I want to go about things from now on. That Thursday was a tower day and so I stared out the window and fed flies to the lizard. I've since found out that his name is Napoleon. There were no fires but it was dry and windy, so I was paying attention. My sister called, saying she wanted to come down. I had the weekend off. So, my impromptu birthday party happened over a few weekend days, around a fire, or wandering with sisters, friends and Mum and Dad along the beach to visit the fish traps.

The Aboriginal stone fish traps are between four and seven thousand years old, from the days when the inlet was open to the sea all year. They were built from two courses of some kind of conglomerate stone. All sorts of things live in these stones; lichens' algae, sea weed, invertebrates and shellfish. Each stone is like a community. I heard said that the uncanniness of the inlet is due to this community missing its people.

The inlet is no longer tidal, although there may be a small tide because the moon could easily influence such a large body of water. Now, the sand bar opens yearly for about a month. Once it closes, the inlet begins to fill with water again from the huge catchment systems, all threading through national parks. Most of the time the fish traps are hidden beneath the water and are very hard to find. When the water is evaporated enough, after months of hot, windy weather, they are revealed. I love taking people to visit them again.

Above is Harry the Black Prince, part of a fish trap and swan swan holes, where the swans dig for cockles with their beaks.


Friday, February 14, 2020

Head in the clouds

Zero visibility in the tower. I’m literally in the clouds, I can see mist rolling over the granite and swallows flitting black against the white. The spotter pilot radios me from where he is taking off in Albany. ‘What’s going on over there, Tower?’

‘Nothing!’ I wail. ‘I can’t see past the granite. Fives all round.’

‘Do you think it’s clearing to the north? Over.’

I try to part the clouds to see. ‘I can’t see anything Tim, I’ll call you when it clears, over.’
The spotter calls in to say he’s taxiing and how many minutes endurance fuel. I settle to stare at the wall of white all around, a beautiful green bug with filigree wings on the glass, and I let my thoughts run away. When sea levels rise, will this mountain still be 420 metres above sea level? Will they have to change all the elevation maps in the world? Shopping list. I need some lamp batteries and some milk and dog biscuits. I hope they grade that blasted track soon. Why do icebergs calve? I can hear the Nankeen kestrels to the west of the tower. What do the wedgetail eagles think about on days such as this?

I decide to cut my hair. There’s a nice sharp pair of scissors in the supplies box. I hold ringlets of red against the white sky and cut off the shaggy ends. I throw the offcuts out the window for the birds and possums to line their nests with. What would a man, a princely sort, think now, I mused, chopping at my curls. To part the mists on the arduous climb to the tower, only to find her cutting off her hair? A radical act of anti-Rapunzelism, that’s what he’d think.

‘Juliet Romeo 146,’ the spotter calls in his coordinates. The universal alphabet. The universal trope of fateful lovers. At least Rapunzel came out of it pretty good. Didn’t she? I can’t remember. I’ve been up in the clouds too long, watching the white wall.

Tower critters

There are insects at the top of the mountain that I've seen nowhere else. I guess it's becoming alpine territory and the climate is different. Maybe too they are more exposed than down below in the forest.

This little skink hangs out most days. I feed it blowflies. It's starting to get quite cheeky and has been breaking into my backpack, trying to find my lunch.

And of course, Aquila and her mates, the wedgetail eagles.

Sunday, February 2, 2020


A friend Catherine took this photo of me and the hound on our way to visit the stone fish traps. She called it 'shapeshifting'. Perfect.