Tuesday, November 26, 2013

morning prayer for Uncle Jeff

Do we all know how to pray? Do I know how to pray if I want to?
Long ago in childhood in sweet soft faith I could pray easily to God to bless my family then hop into bed.  A faith that I lost in early adolescence.  Once that kind of faith is lost I don’t think we can get it back.
Yet this morning I find myself wanting to say a simple prayer. Perhaps just to the sky, which is softly striated green and grey with dawn. Perhaps to the birds that are bright with trilling, chattering arcs and falls of song.  Ok then, I will pray to nature in the way of my women.
Take my Uncle Jeff softly back to yourself. Once he was a white-haired boy-child with all the sparky attitude of a younger son loved hard and ready by his big brothers, loved by his parents.  You were his parent too, and now he has died and you may bring him home to you.  His body to blaze briefly like a star, his ash to fall and mingle with earth and water. He is yours again, an elemental and beautiful thing, atoms borne aloft, ready to become his star again. 
I don’t know how to pray, but I bless him into rest, away from pain. I bless him with love. I knew his story not nearly enough, but I always felt his wonder and love at the family and children around him, his pride to be part of it all.  
Great mother and father, take this loving man and enfold him into love. Blessed be.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Who is Finn?

He is my son, my moon, my boy.  He is four years old. He is goofy, articulate, with far too many words up his sleeve. It can make people feel he’s older (when he pulls out such perfectly parsed sentences) despite that he is smaller for his age than many around him.
He is himself, and deeply so, with a constant internal battle between wanting to do the right thing and be praised, and wanting to be a Puckish little mischief-ratbag-bugger who can’t sustain goodness for too long without bursting out with tests, challenges, comedy and drama.

He can be absorbed for a long-time by intricacy: drawing perfect cars with spoilers, hemmies, bug-catchers, twin-exhaust systems et al.  His kindy teacher wants him to draw people more often. Why? People are fine! But ‘classic restos’ are much more fun to draw!
He likes to eat sausages and rice and cruskits and cheese, pizzas with anchovies and olives.  He likes baths with colours he can mix to make ‘Shrek-coloured’.   He has a deep and abiding love-affair with ‘Lolita the lollie jar’ who will only make her appearance when he is being good and eating all of his fruit.

He likes bum-smacks, little cheeky ones, when he is naked post-bath. Then we do chasey with Zombie-Mummy sucking out his brains…but only because he is constantly killing me...
He is proud of learning to swim, proud of his pictures, proud he can sing ‘twinkle twinke’ and ‘Incy wincy spider’.  He has the sense of humour of Chris and I, dark at times but also tickled by sheer whimsy and slapstick.
Alone, he will make leggo cars, draw, do craft or spend a long time softy patting our more friendly cat Whisky.

With his Dad he likes to get mechanical and intricate with making hot-wheels tracks and leggo cars.  They go to car-shows too with our restored sixties Valiant and meet all the other classics and their fun owners.
With me he likes to submerge into story, be it ‘pretends’, movies, books, or making up stories together.  I can’t resist teaching him of the ‘heroic journey’ and ‘three act plays’ and ‘beat sheets for film’ that I am learning this year.  So now he knows that a montage is fun-and-games to music, but next there will be a ‘dark night of the soul’, some action, and a happy ending.  When we story-weave together he always ensures that after the action and excitement the characters all get lemonade and ice-cream by the end!

He is without night-fears, because as parents we story them right away.  When ‘monsters’ rate a mention he learns that ‘Mrs Blossom the Lovely Possum’ who lives in our roof catches them to make monster-stew for her and her possum-son Finneka.  For Finneka the possum lives in Finn’s ‘top-bunk’, in the roof over Finn's bed, and is usually making all those night-noises (that could be scary) because he’s up there living a wonderful life with his possum-toys while Finn sleeps.
We draw around him a mix of music, myth, morals, story and structures.  We believe in good as a way to live without harsh judgement, with an ear to the backstory of all those we meet, and that community starts with listening for difference.  As parents we’re not perfect. We lose it and get cross, teach him words for those  feelings, then try to do better and have fun and cuddles and apologies all round. And in this environment he becomes increasingly himself, taking up the offered threads but mixing in his own magic and mischief and ideas.

When he is wilful (because being good all the time is hard work) he is given numbers:

One! (Mind yourself there buddy)

Two! (You’re on notice mate)

Three! (To your room now and don’t even think of whining…)

It can work most times, but not every time, for Finn is, thankfully and marvellously, himself.

I have utter faith in him.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

three chairs

My son Finn is four years old. Today he seems to be the perfect size to fit the white chair. But he seemed the right size at age two, and I know without a doubt that he will fit the chair at eight.

He just called out to me ‘that is great music mum, what’s it about?’

                ‘It’s about three chairs love, three chairs before the fire. ‘

                ‘Our chairs?’

Yes my little love, our chairs.  I am in the one scrounged from the side of the road. One scrounged because it was a perfect  though slightly smaller version  of the one we’ve had for ten years, that was built by my Grandpa Ken in the early nineteen-fifties before living out its mid-life with my parents.  Both of these chairs have that simple modern design of a leaning back, tightly padded  seat under velvet, then arms of curved timber that roll in big semi-circles before falling  gracefully to the floor to become legs.

The third chair?  Well it was made by Grandpa Ken in about 1969, for my brother Dean who is oversees now having travelled away for his 46th birthday.  The white chair was always there.  It is a perfect little man’s chair, like a leather office chair with a tall back, side panels with curl-over for arms, and a neat and modern shape. It is made of nineteen- sixties marble-white vinyl, and has those teak legs like inverted cones that end in gold caps.

I used to watch my brother as a boy rock on this chair in front of the telly, shows like ‘Matlock Police’ or ‘The Sullivans’.  For years it was covered in ‘3XY’ or ‘EON FM’ radio stickers. Or a Bombers scarf. Or Dean’s footy duffel-coat adorned with the numbers of players for Essendon.

And now so many years later it lives in my son’s room, cleaned up enough to look new, dragged into the kitchen-lounge for open-fire days.

When we lit the fire today Finn got excited and clamorous, climbing the chair. I wanted to say ‘be careful’ but checked myself.  This chair was well-made for little guys and it had balance built in. It’s almost un-topple-able, just as it seems unstoppable.

I sit, fire blazing, in amongst this triptych of chairs. I sit in their story.  My Grandpa.  My brother as a boy.  My boy as a boy seated in his history and family narrative. The addition of the chair found by me and my husband adding its own newer story-thread.

In the settling fire potatoes cook in foil. My husband and son make a Leggo ‘super-monster-truck’ that has a lot of spoilers.

Later we will scoop out the soft inner potato and pop in butter and salt.   Riches enough, good things aplenty for a cold Melbourne day…

Friday, July 5, 2013

Woman to Man

Woman To Man   (Judith Wright)

The eyeless labourer in the night,

the selfless, shapeless seed I hold,

builds for its resurrection day---

silent and swift and deep from sight

foresees the unimagined light.

This is no child with a child's face;

this has no name to name it by;

yet you and I have known it well.

This is our hunter and our chase,

the third who lay in our embrace.

This is the strength that your arm knows,

the arc of flesh that is my breast,

the precise crystals of our eyes.

This is the blood's wild tree that grows

the intricate and folded rose.

This is the maker and the made;

this is the question and reply;

the blind head butting at the dark,

the blaze of light along the blade.

Oh hold me, for I am afraid.

 This poem by Judith Wright has been with me all my adult life. ‘Woman to Man’ is possibly my favourite poem; it is certainly the one I have most used, for learning, to feel another’s empathy, to be comforted by. It is a poem that to me has always had a kind of grace, and it has bestowed that grace on me many times.
I came across Woman to Man when I was seventeen and studied it with one of those rarely gifted teachers. We talked in class at length about the abundant sexuality and sensuality, with the female teacher discussing her own awareness of the sex-act that had conceived her son.  We got graphic and spoke of the ‘intricate and folded rose’ of the vulva and the womb. We knew the ‘blaze of light along the blade’ to be both ejaculation, and the cutting of the umbilical cord. That ‘the blind head butting at the dark’ was both the penis during sex, and its ultimate outcome, the blind head of the babe in the darkness of the womb.
It was a relevant age to find this poem, as it resonated through my early sex exploration. It helped explain why and how my body was designed, that in fact pleasure is part of the great design, and that the great design seeks only to replicate life over and over. It made me feel my body was quite sacred and that my pleasure was part of the design of life, even if I wasn’t ready or desirous at the time to bring forth that life.  I watched a documentary once that showed the cervix up-close during female orgasm, how it gulped like a little mouth to draw in the sperm, so functional and effectively designed.  
Years later I read the poem again and again as I and my partner faced conception. The first time- not wanted and terminated in a hospital procedure when we were young and powerless. Then the other times of conception, two, three and four, when all we wanted was for that embryonic potential to survive yet it did not.  That is when the line ‘oh hold me for I am afraid’ took on different meaning, where sex  was for life-creation and it promised hope or the despair of miscarriage. Then the conception that closed a loop, righted the universe in my womb and put life and light back in to bring forth ‘the third who lay in our embrace.’
The poem has been with me all my life as a signpost to that which is erotic, spiritual, romantic, biological and paradoxical between Woman and Man- that even as we are drawn to the embrace and its potential, we fear it. ‘Oh hold me for I am afraid.’

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Bath to bed

There is a soft sweet connection with my Grandpa calling me his gingerbread-girl and the Scrappy Girl I now find myself to be in mid-life.  One that’s wholly different in its tone to anything else in my big rock-pool of relationships but resonant nonetheless. 
Let me tell you about crucial memories of childhood- about dinner, bath and bed. 

This triptych of the family album still takes up much of my time.  I used to be a part of it, now I orchestrate it. Now for me and us in my home it’s a ritual of early dinner, dessert offered to the sprog while the bath runs, into the tub with toys and tall tales, then a mad final dash of little limbs, squeals, monster-tickles then coercion into the bedroom for a final half-hour of three stories and certain things said: “ I love you all the way to the moon and back, my good boy, go to sleep my good boy, goodnight, goodnight.”

Here are my Scrappy girl’s memories of:

The kitchen had a big pine table with yellow vinyl chairs to match the yellow vinyl benches. The room had the warm 70s glow of brickwork and wood-panelled walls, of dark vinyl floors and the crocheted brown owl on the walls. And yeah we had those two-toned orange-and-brown biscuit barrels and the set of canisters labelled ‘rice’, ‘flour’, ‘sugar’ and ‘tea’ with the little gold knobs on top.  Mum cooked plainly-well and to a cycle (Oh no its chop day!) with roasts, snags, cutlets, chops and mash all featuring in with her early attempts at curries and pasta sauces.  Mum grew a chilli plant on the balcony in 1978, and nearly killed us all with her first ever ‘chilli-con-carne’.  Back then she was a plain good cook. But even then were nights when bro and I would be sent to bed at 7.30 despite the incredible excitement of Dad preparing the drinks-trolley with small bottles of colour and tall bottles of spirits, with ice buckets, tongs and an array of garnishes.  I recall Mum wearing a floor length Grecian gown of the most beautiful powdery deep blue. It had a wide rhinestone belt to hug her slim waist and it draped off one pale shoulder. Her dark hair with auburn lights would be teased up all 70s, and she would let me watch her put on perfume from a bottle with a puffer.

Dad had sideburns and a wide silver tie against a dark shirt. They were a couple being glamorous and entertaining ‘the boss and his wife and some work-people’.  My bro and I would eventually sleep (having helped serve nibblies in our PJs- so CUTE) to the sound of giggly drunken adult-hum and the smell of Cigars and Stuyvesants.  And in the morning we would wake and find those tiny square ‘after dinner mints’ on our pillows where Mum had popped them.  For those times she cooked lavish concoctions involving shrimp entrees  and beef wellington mains. She was bloody good at it all. She looked gorgeous, made cocktails, cooked and served all whilst doing a flirty banter.  She was a child of the 40s who was taught her womanhood in the 50s who discovered her own kind of feminism in the late 70s.  By the 80s she was telling Dad “to take them out for Chinese!”.  But I love my memories of their glamour…

At the main table though, on most days, I recall arguing.  Both parents trying to talk to both kids, but just too much heat and tension between them because she was a Thinking Housewife in her mould and he was a Cocky Provider in his mould too.  I would eat half of my food, secretly pass half  to our Jack-Russell pup, then skiv off to hide in my room with kids-own-adventure books like ‘Famous Five’, ‘Trixie Belden’, then later as the years passed and décor changed, ‘Sweet Dreams’ high school- romances.  I don’t think I read anything serious until about age 13, and then it was the discovery of poetry.  All the classic and literary stuff.  I found it through my Grandpa Ken, the Scotts one, who would read Robbie Burns and Henry Lawson, Banjo Patterson but also Percy Shelley, Judith Wright and Robert Lowell.

Looking back he read from popular anthologies of the Romantics, Renaissance and 20th century; they were his bents.  So I got my first reading of ‘The Wasteland’ at his side, nodding off.  He read magnificently. He was tall with a full quiff of white hair. He didn’t have the burr of Scot but he had that depth of voice and he took real pleasure in reading. I was spoiled. He was a bit posh, looking back. Or old-school educated at least, with a learning that covered the classics.  Years later in my mid-teens he  would play me opera only after  he’d told me the story many times so I could enjoy it: ‘Rigoletto’, ‘Il Traviatore’, ‘ La Traviata’, and ‘Carmen’.

But I’m digressing (aint it grand to digress?).   Dinner at home was good food and bloody foul company from which I wanted only to escape. Here perhaps is where a love of aloneness began, and in its ‘tent-and-torch-reading’ where the writer began.
Phew!  Bath and Bed may have to wait for next time…

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Paul the sauasage-maker

(alert- not for vegetarian or vegan reading)  I wrote this one after attending an intimate local evening that involved beers, snags and some intriguing character observation...

‑Paul the sausage maker

Paul wasn’t an old man, but he was a tired man and a lonely man. His postie job had left his legs bowed as if always on an old motorbike. His early hours meant he went to bed early, too early for evening movies and dinners out with friends. And who were his friends anyway?

So Paul was middle aged, tired, lonely and a bit sad. But God could he make sausages.  He made sausages from scratch and doing it right was his passion. He ate sausages from every butcher he found. He researched the making of sausages. He experimented. He tested. From the moments his rounds finished until his supper time and into the early evening he chopped and sautéed, simmered and stirred, then packed his concoctions into the machine and turned a handle to stuff the skins. Mild lamb with parsley and sage he grew in pots. Comfit of duck with oranges steeped in aged brandy. Robust lamb with Moroccan seven-spice and olives. Peppered rabbit and celery.

And as dusk became eve and all good pets should be home with their owners they would instead begin to come, drawn by the delicious savoury aromas. Dogs of all kind: from plump Labradors to skinny terriers. Cats both well-groomed and feral. And in an odd-looking ensemble they would all line up at the back door of Paul the postie, who at night became their hero, Paul the sausage man.

And each night, Paul would pick one furry creature to come inside, share his plate of sausage and watch TV. And for a night he would know the comfort of touch and company as he scratched the ears of his newest friend.

Until a dreadful night when no animals came. You see, Mrs Betsy had gotten sick of calling her cat to a bowl of crunchies that never got eaten. Yet her cat had become fat, something Mrs Betsy with her super-tanned and taut limbs would not tolerate. So Mrs Betsy had followed little Shmoo-Shmoo her Persian Blue, and seen her welcomed into Paul the postie’s house with a plateful of sausages. Sausages! Ugh, how…fattening.

So Mrs Betsy started a campaign of whispers amongst the neighbourhood pet-people, and soon they were all shutting in their animals by 5pm, before the first eddies of delicious aroma teased the dusk breezes. Small children heard some adult whispering too, and in that way that small children do turned them into black gold, a sinister thing, the urban legend of the man who took people into his home then minced them for his sausage machine.

Paul was shunned now by animals and children too. He grew a little more bowed, a fair bit tireder, and a lot sadder. Yet he continued to make sausages; what else could he do?

One evening he wrapped some sausages in the local paper to take to the local vicar. Paul wasn’t religious but the vicar herded a group of church women who ran a Sunday sausage sizzle to generate funds for community groups. He was lovingly wrapping a mixed two dozen when he saw the world ‘sausage’ on the paper.  It was an advert that went:

‘Do you make sausages?’Do you like to eat sausages and drink beer? If you like either then come to the Princess Hotel, May 1 st, for our annual sausage makers competition. Enter your best 2 dozen, or be part of the judging crowd! No charge for entrants, eaters just $5.’

On the night he went he felt nervous.  But at the hotel courtyard he was greeted warmly by the publican and his wife who was a chef. ‘Ooh these look GOOD’ said Roberta. ‘Do you trust me to grill them? The judges are getting pretty eager’ and she held his arm and steered him into a small crowd of friendly faces.

And ‘grab a beer mate’,  said Simon. ‘First one’s free for entrants.’  Simon stood close beside him and said ‘So tell me about your snags mate’. 

Soon Paul’s face was grin-split as he talked to ‘Jacqeline but call me Jack’, a plumply pretty English cook who wanted to know about his knife technique for fine-mincing and what cut of lamb did he use for that one?’ Then two Sicilian brothers Agnostino and Angelo pulled him into a conversation about cereals and spice-blends.  Paul had three beers and was holding a sausage dripping its good grease into a crusty bread-roll. Paul was happy.  As he watched the judging begin as people in the crowd were handed sausages and score cards he became anxious. He knew his tasted good and had good texture too, but what was the ‘presentation’ factor?  He asked Angelo.

‘Mate they just want to see you make a nice-shaped snag, the right size for how much punch it packs’.  Ahh.  The three men and Jack watched in silence as first tastes were taken.  They saw heads nod and lips get licked. It was OK. The eaters kept smiling, nothing was spat out. All around them other sausage-makers exhaled, the music went on, and more beers were bought.

After he won second prize, wedged comfortably between Jack’s first and the Brother’s third, Paul was still a middle-aged man, but he was not a tired man or a lonely man.  On the pretence of planning to murder him for his spiced lamb sausage recipe, Agnostino dragged him into the wildness of Italian family life most weekends. When his kids had birthday festas Paul was there with sausages, as new bubs heads were wet with wine and blessed with song, Paul shyly bought his old guitar and joined in.  When Roberta and Simon celebrated a year of running the little pub, Paul was there cheering them on from the warm local community they’d helped to build.  And Jack was there too. As their head chef she was proud, rounded and sated with good food and love. Paul was so good to her. 

One night he was wrapping their four dozen sausages for the church ladies while Jack was cleaning up from their cook-fest. He saw the word ‘sausage’ on the local paper he was using.  ‘Hey love’ he called out, ‘the Butcher in Willi is looking for a sausage maker; reckon its time I quit the post?’

Life was good, like that classic trio of onion, celery and leek where the salt brings out the sugar.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

River Time: Murchison.


So here I am on New Years Eve 2012, in the caterwauling bird-loud dusk at 9pm. With mozzies eating me alive.  A gorgeous afternoon, wonderful friends and food, a tire-swing hanging from a gum, a tepee in the yard, guitars and singing Beatles songs. Wine and more songs and new friends and old. Kids in bare feet with sticky hands playing wars with big sticks. My little angel in amongst it hooting like a demon, loving this land he has inherited into his cellular self, sneaking lie-downs under a rug, and then bounding up again at the call for icy-poles.  Goodbye everyone, lovely!
 I leave the party fulfilled and take my tired little guy in arms and walk the short road to the caravan. We tussle over bed and there are some tears and then the days' joys, seated heavy in his bones, drag him under the thick doona and into the syrupy- sweetness of a justified sleep.
 Me on the grass surrounded by the somnolent hum of other talkers, their smoke so strong in the still air, the birds crazy- loud.  And ah, after the pressured heat now a breeze flutters the leaves in soft relief and as the sky  darkens bugs climb the screen and the sounds drop to a mere  whisper and scuttle of small creatures drawing in or heading out.
And there is no mobile reception, no free wi-fi anywhere; this becomes the blessed and blissed tech-less break. Timely, a good and timely reminder that people used to wait 6 months for letters, years for news of loved ones off to war or other countries.


River- run:

At seven a.m. I run the old soft gravel along the river-bank and road. Cows meander the banks and mellow gold sunlight streams in between trees of gum and scribbly-bark.   It is the first day of the new year and no-one is awake. The world is mine and the animals' and I am running, doing lamp-post intervals to learn how. Seven posts at run, one post to breathe slower, seven posts to run.  In the rhythm of my feet and blood-pumping mantras always begin. Today it is some good Doctor Seuss; "I  like to run, I like to run, I like to run in the morning sun!"
The road is wide and elm- lined when I reach town, an arrow-road that leads to the beautiful red and white church, over which a dusty morning moon peers.
AS I learn this running business my shoulders today find their natural order in the run, they like to move just a little, my hands are loose and clasp their fingertips to form light circles.  My spine is learning to lengthen when running instead of bunch. It all feels good, just the breathing still to master.
There are awakenings on the way home from the town.  Each time I pass a flowering- wattle drunken bees hum at me in warning to not crash their party.  Bull-ants are starting the days' work under my feet, little red bodies walking perfect straight lines.  In the houses behind huge gardens full of old roses I hear showers start up, occasionally a car slides by, so slow, nothing to do, its bush-time, old time.
As I write I am in the bakery holding a fairly good coffee but a better bacon and egg roll. Happy New Year to me!  Four kilometres then today.  I will get fit in temperament and actions, feelings and deeds. I will learn to pace myself in life.


River day:

Back at the friend's house early and I magicked the kitchen. Dreamily, dozily, dazily washed and put to drain, dried and put away. In the yard the overnight campers begin to emerge. I have no hangover, so help pour the tea, make the coffee as they drift back outside to the warming morning.  The kids get icy-poles for breakfast and I return to the house. At the skink huge windows overlook a front yard full of bicycles and my friends beautiful garden, she is so gifted in her gardening.  Finally the peace swells over me, soft as the dust-chalky and  grey-green land.
I wash and dry, then she emerges, my gorgeous glowing friend of almost twenty years. She is sorely hung-over and delighted at her emerging kitchen benches!  I convince her towards a sangria for breakfast, and she fires up and we play music and shoot the shit oh so gently.  My little boy  gets hit in the head by a big boy on a swing, there are tears and cuddles and special toys bought out to distract. Then the whisper in my ear 'I love you mum but can we go back now please?’
Our friends need their break too, we'll be together again all arvo, beers drunk slow as the yard now empty of all save their kids and ours begins again its crawl into shade and the flies dip lazily into the chip-bowl. There will be pool- runs and the preparing of dinner. Old-fashioned and unembarrassed us women will sip cool wine in the kitchen with salad-making and the men will yap out in the yard.
Peace.  Quiet joy.  Natural rhythms.  All possible.

River Evening:

My friend G finally goes to bed, it doesn't take much urging come 4pm, she's had a round of guests arriving and leaving around her sleeplessness and hangover.  I sit the kids left in front of a movie, they're tired and happy to zone out in beanbags in a darkened room.  We scrabble together a cheats dinner of nachos made from loads of leftovers, the kids pick at it and spaghetti as we pick and sip coronas and tiny shots of good tequila.  In a wash of flies and gold  light I traipse the property with camera in hand and click the minutiae that appeals:  dropped bikes, swing-set, a  blue-dressed doll, sunshine/ rainbow/haloes over  the old shed, the tire swing.  Capturing those images of my own childhood and my husbands, and what will become our little boys flicking movie- reels of road trips.  A seasoned traveller now he has partied hard, learned to do a dog-paddle in the wonderful old local pool, killed lots of flies, eaten like a feral cat finding scraps and treats aplenty, and slept deep on a straight hard road that arrowed through the blonde grass and harsh noon light.
I walk him home again on my hip and he clasps my neck with damp and limp hands that twine for comfort.

River women:
It makes a simple kind of sense to me that G has ended up here, living an elegantly simple life in a quiet river town.
When I first knew her long years ago her beauty almost intimidated me. She is tall, statuesque with a swimmers shoulders. She has breasts that bounce and sway, a tiny high waist above straight hips and long strong legs. She has a classic pre-Raphaelite profile, truly pretty, and a tumble of dark blonde wavy hair.  She used to nude-model for life-classes.  Once she came to a ‘deviants and debauchery’ party with a punk-haired Lesbian friend on a dog leash at her heels.  She has done the uni-days alongside me,  and the dancing days alongside me and now does the mothering and working days, and she was and is good at all of them. She has high standards, makes a beautiful home, cooks well and  gardens well. She is well-read and a feminist, who shrugs her shoulders, creates ease about her, listens to reggae and loves getting giggly.
Her children are raised slow, good kids with sparky attitudes and polite manners too. Their mum and dad are local teachers and locally liked, the kids tumble in the yard, play at the pool and eat all meals at the table.
In the late afternoon I creep into her and his room. I hold a big glass-full of the deepest yellow aged and oaked chardonnay, a really good wine, and super-cold. She is dozing on the bed but had wanted to be woken by five so we could pull the evening's meal together.
The room is in her beautiful style, pale muted parchment colours against strong teak and oak furniture, groupings of Japanese ink-sketches and Chinoiserie objects displayed against hung silks, the window full of dark green movements from the tree outside. A cool,  dim, country- room.  I pull into the bed and tuck my knees under the sheet and in slow sotto voice the delicious lazy chat begins, women's chat.  We dip and circle, touch on subjects, mutual friends, books read, our kids, our husbands, back to each other and our own selves and wants.  The room breathes softly around us, it is creakingly hot outside and the wine is cold and lovely, the sheet rumpled and crisp.
 We leave the bedroom, and soon we begin again the dance of meal-time,  placing food, dragging the kids from the lounge where they are watching a film with their little bodies tangled together in a tired heap. 
We pour champagne and murmur, two tired but happy couples,  as in the distance  gum-trees crackle, their sap too hot for the limbs to bear anymore.   Soon it will be dark and my little family will traipse back to the caravan, to play a tight round of chasey with the son, then to fall into bed in contented and bone-weary heaps…