Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Laurieton Day 3

35 years ago, Sue and I stood beside a tall eucalypt at a bush art gallery north of Armidale and made promises we have since kept. We have raised three individual, independent children, each with talents but more importantly, the gift of sharing their love. The circumstances have been bloody impossible at times but this morning we celebrate not our survival, not our memories but all the tomorrow's yet to come. Beyond all her finest qualities like courage and forgiveness, Sue's greatest and most unwavering gift to me has been her friendship. When even the best fell away, she was always there. We both took those promises seriously. We both kept them and this morning, in the sunshine, holding hands, we are proud of each other.

It was all I wrote yesterday. It was enough.

Our anniversary was filled with so many things that were typical of our journey ...

  • we did a lot of things Sue wanted to do (beach, walking through long grass to find an old hut)
  • we a visit to emergency care when I got stung on the lip and looked like I'd gone a round with half a dozen P&C ladies
  • we drank coffee
  • we did more things Sue wanted to do (the damn beach again)
  • then romantic things
After breakfast, we walked 500m through a bush which is still regenerating after rutile mining of the long beach from Indian Point to Crowdy Head which carried on for nearly twenty years from 1959. The main processing plant was here at Kylie's Beach - named for writer Kylie Tennant who wrote here during the 1940's. Her husband was a local school principal and Tennant bought the near beach property and she and a rustic old timer, Ernie Metcalfe,  put together the slab built hut. The mining subsequently wrecked the natural environment and it has never recovered and once national parks took over, they moved the hut to a location which suited their visitor program.

It's of slab construction but in the moving some more modern timbers have been added. 

Yeah, well ...

Soon after, on the way to beach for a second time after I discovered I had left my ventolin puffer behind, something stung me on the lip. Cynicism perhaps. It began swelling immediately so I returned to the caravan for antihistamines. Sue, unaware of my additional lip, thought - quite reasonably - that I had the huff and had given up on trying to please her by going to the beach. By the time she returned, she was as keen as I to get to some medical attention. Swelling that close to the throat is a worry, especially when you are asthmatic. 

The GPS found us a medical centre in Laurieton and it didn't take long to get the all clear: me leaving looking as though I had developed a beak.

As we always do in time of crisis, consolation or romance, we found a coffee shop. This one, within kicking distance of the feet of Middle Brother Mountain, had paragliders floating over it. I must talk to the Kelly's at 2340 about it. As they descended, as these things often do, we realised that each of the birds were pregnant. Later, after coffee, we saw them on the ground at the Laurieton Oval, each instructor now allowing their gestated customer to stand in harness and be blown about whilst taking instructions on how to stand in the harness and not be blown about. The wind won.

Back at camp, we read books and drank tea.

When the afternoon had seem to have waited long enough, we went back to the beach. It's rough and isn't patrolled and neither of us were keen on Sue going to New Zealand, so she just paddled about in the knee high stuff. I stood calf deep in freezing cold Pacific Ocean, terrified of sharks and asthma attacks. Later, back on dry, gritty land which adhering to my white, grease painted feet and legs, I wrote poems in the wet sand for Sue to discover as she walked past. How I could be so romantic in that setting, I might never know. The following wasn't transcribed on the beach. It was written this morning, during another pilgrimage.

I hate the beach

The gritty grains

The white grease

Having to squint 

No coffee but

lots of people

to make me feel inadequate

with their bronzed bodies

hardly hidden

by patches

and strings

and skin disclosures

young boys go to the internet for

As I moan the need to worship 

at my beach girl's altar

imagine if poetry

was the great Aussie icon

Fancy standing

in a room

of red wine stained poets?

We dined on fine steak and good wine, talked about secrets I shall not share and as we always have, days still ahead. Our memories have always been important to us ... mostly those we haven't made yet. And old Scottish friend, Glen Fiddich, called in and called time on this 35 year of days we never knew the script of.

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