You are seven, you are my big boy, you are loved. You just had your birthday and we’ve celebrated by road-tripping, first to Murchison then looping around beautiful coastlines. In Murchison you played hard with Gilbert and Hermione, nestled in a bean bag with Spencer the red-haired cat, slept once again in your bubble-van bedroom, in the part that curves over you like a pale gold cave and has all the little windows. You picked up eggs from Bipp’s hutch, you bounced on a net-less trampoline, you ate rye bread without noticing it was ‘brown’ and you picked up an acorn from the road and admired its tender green smell. I love to watch you in flow in the country; you have it in you gut deep, just like me. Murchison is our good family tradition, many years now doing the Easter egg hunt or the New Year’s Eve party, the winter bonfire and the long and lovely meals together with your ‘country cousins’. You know you have big mob out in the world, your non-blood family who have laid their tracks beyond the Melbourne where they were first my friends. Now they are your friends, lighthouses dotted around the state, beacons of love for you.
And now you have just covered more country, with me, on our first Mum and Son road trip. The map showed you how far we drove. Way past Geelong, which you know so well from car-shows with your Dad, across a place called Winchelsea, and into Colac where we stopped at the RSL for crunchy salty chips and you kept swapping your raspberry for my coke! Down we wiggled, through a place called Simpson, and then there we were at the house in Coorimungle. Two days of ‘Aunty’ Tracy and her husband Luke, and five working dogs. Oh heaven. You befriended the littlest of their border collies, Uda, and tried to contain your excitement and learn some dog handling techniques from Luke who is an expert trainer and handler. We ate junk, then apples, and broke rules then you’d re-find the ones that actually serve you, hopping off your device to go outside and run with the dogs. You flopped on a couch with Uda alongside you, got filthy, had your first outdoor loo-poo and your first experience sleeping with me in a big double bed where we woke to the perfection of sunrise seen from a hilltop: orange bands deepening into violet-brown beneath sea-coloured sky.
At Port Campbell you didn’t care when your toy boat didn’t start up; you ran into the waves and chased their frills over and over, soaking your sneakers which we had to pop into the dryer later on. At the Twelve Apostles your clever Tracy explained plants to you, and different scat that we found, and how the fat penguins enjoyed their protected beach. Not every boy has the Park Ranger’s coordinator as their guide! In Timboon the tatey cakes were ‘so crunchy, Mum.’ And you crunched through two, your appetite made sharp by the cool apple-crispness of the air. You walked barefoot through Timboon, your shoes a soggy heap in the car. I teased you that people would think I was a bad Mum. ‘We’re in the country Mum; it doesn’t matter.’
You always amaze me, my gorgeous boy, but I have learned new things about you: your generosity of spirit, your spontaneity, your ease and confidence around new people, and how readily you can flow into new views and terrains. Just when I’d worry you might get bored you’d find a beauty and exclaim in your piping voice, ‘Mum!’ (The silkiness of Uda’s coat, the orange and brown birds on the water tank, a sky with an ocean- tide of curling spumey clouds.)
I tumble into yet a deeper level of loving you. Finn, you are seven. You are my son. You are loved.