This morning, driving to work, I nearly got cleaned up by another four wheel drive. The exodus out of this holiday town after the Easter long weekend is always pretty hectic and there can be some bad behaviour on the highway. This morning, a man towing his boat was temporarily inconvenienced by some boomers crawling up a long hill with their caravan. He lost his patience and tried over-taking the caravan on double white lines. Blind corner.
I came around said blind corner and this guy towing the boat was right there. It was looking like a head-on crash. He had nowhere to go and I had nowhere to go except the soft gravel shoulder, which I took to at about 90 kilometres per hour. Then he threw out an anchor, slipped back in behind the caravan again and gave me a cheery wave. The two cars continued, one towing a caravan, the other a boat, heading home from the holiday town.
I had to stop the car and take a few minutes to collect myself. That wave was weird. He'd nearly killed several people ... and he just fucking waves?
I was a bit late to work and still rattled when I got there. Now that the fire season is drawing to a close, one of my other jobs is in a place called The Valley of the Giants. The Giants is in reference to the Tingle trees, three kinds of Eucalypt that only grow in this area. Tingles have a character all to their own amongst the Karris and Marris. Remember the Ents from Lord of the Rings? These trees are like Ents. They are warty and wizened and live for centuries. You can just imagine them scooping up doomed warriors and marching them to safety. Except the Tingles themselves are in trouble, due to a changing climate and declining rainfall. They are remnant citizens from another era.
The sky walk is a steel structure based on suspension bridge engineering which takes tourists through the canopies of these trees. The sky walk sways and breathes as you walk along it. At 40 metres above the forest floor with seemingly little between yourself and certain death, it can sometimes feel like your body is screaming no no no!
One of my favourite jobs is not in the gift shop but up on pylon 2, the second highest pylon at about 38 metres. At that height, I'm in the canopy. Trees are breathing all around me. It's almost pure oxygen. It smells amazing.
Today, after my near-fatal on the roads, I got up there and watched the wind rip across the top of the trees. The thinner Yellow Tingles swayed and swirled. Pylon 2 swayed too. The stoic Red Tingles stayed stoic. It began to rain and then it began to hail! Bright little buckshots of ice bounced on the checkerplate steel, the air electrified with nitrogen. I had my overcoat and umbrella and watched as tourists straggled towards me, hailstones bouncing off green umbrellas and 3 dollar rain ponchos, those beautiful trees beside me, just breathing out oxygen.