Sunday, 30 June 2013

Yamba 2013 - Day 1

Fish & chips for dinner
At times, Sue's incapacity can be awkward. Walking around with a time bomb ready to detonate between L4 and L5 is no easy task. Once carefree and willing to try anything, she lives with the danger of picking up shoes. Not a person easily given to limitation, any constriction is an irritant. Add a heavy cold and rain and her favourite place - yes, even more favoured than a certain European destination - and you have a frustrated wild child, fighting pointlessly with valour toward no end.

Then there's the little piece-picker-upper that is me.

Journeys represent significant workloads when your partner in time can't do much but sit there and look cute. You pack it all up, turn it all off, lock it all down ... drive for six hours with long breaks to allow for rest and recovery ... and then you do the reverse at the other end ... only to discover its raining and you have now caught the edges of the cold she has been snotting, coughing and wheezing up all week ...

... but it's not home, the ocean is out there through the fog somewhere and if you have a second, runaway home, this is it.

We were later than desired leaving Tamworth for a variety of technical reasons and weren't disappearing up the Cockburn River Valley towards Moonbi until most of the morning was spent. The rain which had arrived during the previous evening latched a towing rope to the Forester and tagged along with us for most the journey. A long stop at the roadhouse at Guyra for lunch and frivolous chatting was our first stop. We left well fed and laughing.

Everywhere on the tablelands was wet and cold and miserable. Sue had talked about work for most of the moments of the first leg of the journey to Guyra, so I set the iPod to classic rock and drowned out the background hum, eventually beating difficult personalities, inadequacies in the funding system and the heartbreak of children no one cares for ... etc ... into submission under a 4/4 beat. Deep Purple and Grand Funk Railroad finally put our holiday on the road.

The fog thickened as we headed north west and a departure point from the tablelands at Gibraltar Range NP. In late afternoon light muted by constant rain and fog, the giant ferns took on a deep green glow as the most obvious vanguards of might have been an advancing nature. The road seemed narrower today. Over the leap and down the mountain pass, the road sides closed in dramatically, with two landslides reducing us to a single lane and turn-taking with approaching mountain climbers. On the eastern side of the range, the cloud thinned to sunshine and the fog was frightened away by the warmer coastal air.

Our pace quickened as we met and travelled with the Mann River. Its odd topography makes it appear to be flowing uphill. Its other unusual trait, is being the same river you drive beside when you make the descent of the tablelands along the Old Grafton Road.

The rest of the trip was quick but we sill arrived after sunset. Having rented the same flat for nine years, there's always a comfort in opening the door.

The evening was spent in the company of family in the unit owned by Sue's brother Lance. It's always good to catch up by being in the same room. Despite smart phone, emails and social media keeping us "closer" than in the dark ages of my early adulthood, sitting across the table from an anecdote still rates as the superior experience. For Sue and I, spending some time with nephew John and niece Flick, was the most treasured of these few hours. Strong and independent and both studying law, their sharp minds and courageous spirit is a recommendation for the mother they lost in brutal suddenness only two months ago. As the crazy uncle, I play no favourites but I really enjoy their company. A light shines from both of them.

Bed ... rain ... the sound of an ocean angry that it's not permitted to sparkle ... and a warm doona.

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