Saturday, August 22, 2020

'It's the bats, man!'

 If you haven't seen this video doing the rounds, watch - it's priceless. Maybe I'm late to this but the idea of flipping upside down footage of bats (sleeping upside down) and setting it to some 1990s goth music strikes me as an act of genius.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Helping your Elders

 Mum lives in a small town near me and we both moved out to the bush from the city at around the same time. She's nearly 80 and has had pneumonia twice so when the pandemic was finally declared by the Australian government, I went into action overload.

'Just to let you know Mum,' I texted her, 'I'm happy to support you and do shopping and things for you.' Her reply was bemused. It went along the lines of 'Thanks! That's a lovely offer. I'll think about it.'

When I rang her the next day, she was still in the city, having lunch with one of her mates. I could feel my anxiety ratchet up to eleven when I rang her. 'Mum, please come home. I'll do the shopping for you.' I paused and she paused. Then I said 'Personally, I don't think it's a good time for anyone to be moving around the country right now. I think you should come home Mum.' She said, 'This has been a profound conversation, Sarah.'

Not long after that, days maybe, the state government shut the borders and most of us were prevented from entering the southern city. Whenever I went shopping with my Mum's list on my phone, I'd sanitise my hands on entry and then follow the arrows through the tiny supermarket, scrolling on my phone that I'd scrolled through previous to washing my hands. How does that work?

I'd come back to Mum's house with her box full of groceries, drop the box in her sun room and wave at my Mum standing in the kitchen. 'I'm not coming in!' I'd say. 'I've just been to the supermarket.'

She'd clean down all the packets with sanitiser and put it away into her fridge. When it became dusk, she would collect the neighbour's dog and take him for a walk, 'when there were less people on the streets.'

Recently, she told me of her loneliness during that period. How I wouldn't hug her. Of having to walk a dog after dark. Of me dropping vegetables and dried food into her sun room and waving goodbye to her through the window.

I wonder now if I'd been too hardcore towards my Mum. During that time when none of us knew anything about the virus and we were all so afraid, I totally locked Mum down. Looking back, I feel terrible that I inflicted that on her and yet at the time, I thought I was doing the right thing. Was I punishing her for being aged? How would I like to be treated, in the same circumstance?

Thoughts about this please? In the past I've gone into action when it comes to organising funerals or dealing with suicides, but I've never (as I'm sure none of you have either) had to help Elders during a pandemic. How did you go with this one?

Friday, August 14, 2020

On lost dogs

We found an old dog the other night. She got lost in the bush down the hill from my place and she cried until we found her. Selkie and I were sitting in the dark, when we first heard her cry. My dog looked at me. I put on my headlamp. It was raining. The lost dog was soaking wet when we found her.She looked at me, blinded by an LED lamp.  Old, lost and wet.

'You're okay. Stay here. We'll get you some help,' I said to her.

Quails scritching scratching through the marri litter. They scuttle for cover as shouts ring out through the forest. It sounds like people are calling for their lost dogs, no doubt on an excellent adventure and not lost at all. When I look over my journal, the last few weeks are nothing creative but quotes for nbn, phone numbers, notes from work zoom meetings, quotes for servicing the boat motor.

Red Robin burrs onto the veranda, snatches a bug and whirrs away. Honey eaters carry on in the banksias. The fishermen are motoring back from picking up their nets. None of them hit that rock to port side of the channel marker. The inlet’s charts are inside their heads.

Selkie barks as a figure steps through the scrub. A young man, eating something. Breakfast. ‘Have you seen a couple of dogs around here?’

‘No, they’ve probably gone off after a roo.’ A pair of dogs will do that. When there are more than one, they don’t need you anymore. They’ve got each other.

I can hear the fisherfolk sliding boxes of their catch on to the trays of their utes, and the crunch of a spade into ice. A motorbike down by the beach. Someone whistling.

I drive to the neighbours at the squatter's huts. It's late at night now. They are getting about with torches, looking for their dog.

'Are you looking for the old girl?' I shouted from the car window. 'I think she's at my place. She's stuck in the bush.'

In my headlights they come rushing towards me, five or six people at once.  'Have you found her?' 'Have you found her?' There are torches going in every direction and I say 'follow me'. They follow my car back to my place, track me through the bush to where the old dog has managed to stand and walk. Someone catches her in the torch light, slinking off like a ghost dog. 'There she is!'

Her owner, a man I've so often thought as loud in his masculine violence (or whatever ...) gathers the dog into his arms. I can see by the way he hugs the old dog, so wet and so cold, that he loves her dearly.  He says, 'She can go on the back of the ute. I'll sit by her. Drive, daughter.'