Voice of Reason


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I walk in the bush and the cacophony of birds fills the air. I am alone, or I think I am but the butterflies are prolific. A koala peers down from his branch above and he would have gone unnoticed if I were not searching. I am in Tinana Queensland and I stand where the trees and the animals in them could be gone very soon as they are threatened by development. It breaks my heart! This land may soon be bare of trees if the developer has his way. It will be like the Lawnton Lakes Estates where there is too little, too late for the koalas closed in and over-browsing the trees.

My inner voice is the one that tells me the truth. I feel it when someone is genuine and when someone is just buying time. I know when someone lies. When dealing with government I will always be wary of the ‘truths’ they preach as actions speak louder than words! Often the half truths and outright lies prevail at all levels.

Koalas are my life and what I witness season after season in Australia is the decline of an iconic species in the wild. It is pathetic because year after year nothing changes. Koalas and kangaroos = Australia in the eyes of someone like me that has been relocated! We need to be trying everything possible to stem the decline and we need to be stepping outside to think differently. What we have done thus far has not worked! Koalas are not safe in suburbia in or out of breeding season if they have a limited range and nowhere to go. They are not safe on islands in the sea or within the man made islands we create on land as development pushes them out of their natural range. All you have to do is look at a map to see that the isolated pockets in the 5km ranges they live in are not enough. If government does not change these policies that no longer serve today, we will just watch the isolated pockets that exist disappear like ghosts in the wind. Innocent lives are deemed less than worthy and I am baffled by the lack of common sense and decisions made to place money before life.

There have been 40 koalas displaced and we wait for an answer, likely to receive the one we fear most. Government places themselves above the laws of reason and claim expertise and value in process when there is none. They claim they wait for science to base decisions upon and yet they choose to ignore the expertise and scientific guidance that doesn’t serve growth, development or destruction of habitat. If it costs a bit more, they turn to short cuts and an easy way out. When will they see that it could be different? Probably when it is too late.

Back in March, I stood under a koala at the Lawnton Lakes site and I cried tears of anger and frustration and regret. I told him I was sorry for the destruction I saw. Not much has changed since then. In Tinana I witnessed one of the koalas that remain in an area under threat. Soon the clearing begins in his home! In Somerset, a passing lane on a busy highway will soon be under construction to serve the “big” business of growth and development. Although Council unanimously voted against this, can someone tell me how State Government overrides and Local Government has no say?

Where koalas live and die, they must be recognized, respected and honoured. When they die no one knows. No one in the mainstream outside hears or sees. The death goes unnoticed except by the few brave souls who witness the aftermath of destruction. A Federal Protection holds no value if habitat continues to be destroyed and if people don’t care. There should be a price placed on trees and an incentive to plant and restore habitat. Only when we can show dollar and cent value for the trees and the clean air they provide for the ever growing numbers of humans, will we be able to save our iconic species. The terrible record of animal extinctions that exists in Australia will continue to raise until we raise our voices high and speak up for “What is Best for Koalas”. It’s not too late, but the clock is ticking and the pace is speeding up. Breeding season is around the corner and koalas live not by human pace. Their hearts beat to the drum of life in rhythm with the seasons that are changing. We all could learn from this rhythm and slow down before it’s too late.

Extinction is forever! 

Death on Page 29


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Dear Death,

You elude me and yet you entice me. The cloud of your existence in the black swirling smoke on the mountain sets my heart on fire and ignites the passion within to change the world. Who are you and where do you hide? When do you creep into the soul of the earth’s center intending to live? In the dark of night and in the break of day I see you and I remember.

Farewell,

Me

Weaving the Web of Forgiveness


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The dogs led us along the riverbanks to the steps of a favourite café’.  Crowds of tourists littered the beach on a sunny day and I saw an associate sipping her coffee up on the deck engaged in conversation. As I joined her for a quick “hello” her introduction was curt but polite as the dogs watched from below. What had caused this change in her? Why was she avoiding eye contact? Until now, I hadn’t really thought much about recent excuses given. I was busy and had other things on my mind. My senses heightened, I returned to the walk with my husband and the animals, quiet and pensive.  

We are setting up an Alliance. It doesn’t have a name yet, but it is a part of a greater move to inspire people to work together. It is a time to break out of the old mold and do something new so it is exciting. I feel positive yet challenged.  With transformative energy, there will always be transitions. Transitions are imperative to success and they create a shift in the mindset. So why do we fight this? Why do we take 2 steps forward and one step back? We do this because we are afraid of change and we do this because of ego.

Ego is something that we all hang onto. It can serve us well or it can attack the very fabric of success we seek. Sometimes it catches you off guard. If you look at leaders who drop ego, some can let go better than others. Those that inspire me most are often selfless but the selfless are few and far between lately.  Frankly, this frustrates the hell out of me. The closer we get to change, the more the pendulum swings in and out of balance. When we hold on tight to old ways and dig our heels in, we block the energy to move forward. Each time I am knocked down I learn. I don’t pretend these lessons are easy or that I handle them well. Sometimes I am a downright mess!!! My family has to pick up the pieces and lift me up and I am grateful for their support. Passion drives me to go on primarily for the koalas but that is another story.

I was let down by someone whom I considered a friend. I was emotionally fragile after the event and it continued to revisit me through little reminders such as this chance meeting at a café’. Although I knew that this person before me was involved, I wish it were not so. Her actions were based on a festering wound unhealed that I was no part of. I became her scapegoat. Behind my back the non-confrontational spirit of bitterness led to deceit and destruction. As the tangled web of lies, hurts and frustrations were revealed and apologies exchanged, an understanding was reached.  There is a bit of madness to it all.  I choose to forgive, I will be cautious in future. That is all I can do. It is counterproductive to dwell on it all.  I walk away and I see the false smile in the insecurity of a bruised ego. I am watching my back as we re-weave the web that was unraveled.

Jane Goodall states, “We are unraveling the web of life.” This rings true in all aspects of life yet if we work together, we can change this. I want to be a part of this change!  Don’t you?

Muse of Spring in WInter


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When I was 12, every day was exciting yet simple! I couldn’t wait to go to school and see Bill every day. I thought I was in love yet the love was the muse of a young girl waiting to escape. Escape what, you ask? The perceived pain of the unknown in our family was what I feared.

My father was very ill and I felt this deep within long before the crisis hit. I just chose to ignore it. I lived the life of a teenager filled with angst and trepidation. Only my closest friends knew. My confidence hid the mask of fear I didn’t acknowledge. Perhaps I am just beginning to understand this now.

 

Our garden sloped down to the Niagara River. It actually just dropped! A rope swing hung in the precarious branches that stretched over the swift waters eddying and pooling beneath the lone rope. The river represented life and danger and my playground. No matter the season, it was magic! The rock on the riverbank was my safe place and I found myself often perched upon it, dreaming of love and security and attachment. It was a place for reflection.

 

The house itself had large picture windows that opened to a stunning view of the oak trees and the river. Cardinals, Blue-jays, Eagles and critters that frequented their hollows and branches were my friends. I never felt alone as I would study them for hours and tell them my secrets through whispers. I dreamt of being a vet one day.

Within the rock wall beside our kitchen scurried chipmunks. Squirrels and raccoons visited and set up home in the hollows of the shed at the base of the slope and amongst the trees. The raccoons even had a little family and they would curiously sneak up on us when we were down on that rock only to scurry back to safety once discovered.

 

I was an only child adopted by a loving couple in Western NY in the USA. We lived simply in a small town and I could walk just about anywhere. I longed for something but rarely knew what that was. I spent my time drawing, running, singing or riding horses with Jackie who was Bill’s twin sister and a close friend. I longed to own a horse of my own but we couldn’t afford it. My first kiss was in the old barn so in my angst, I would count the days between riding sessions. Although I saw Bill in school, it was the time spent in the woods and at the barn that were what I waited for. We experimented and danced close to slow music. We held hands when we skated. We sped down the country paths on a snowmobile in winter. In summer, it was a bicycle. He loved animals but he loved cars and engines more. It was Jackie and I who shared the rest.

 

If I could do it all over again, I would return to the place where I grew up and spend more time. I would share it all with my grown up kids.

Today, their dreams are just beginning and I return to mine with vivid memories. The stone cobbled house along the river represents a piece of me that lay dormant waiting for spring.

Why Josh Is Italian


I am adopted with an extended Italian Family. I am so lucky! DSC_0993

I grew up in a small town along the Niagara River. We moved in when I was 9 years old. Our family was happy and secure. I knew not what lay ahead and my days were full of the outdoors. Lisa lived 2 streets over and we spent many years together creating a hard worn path between our houses. I think we sometimes dreamt of switching lives – she an only child and me part of the big family! She came from a traditional Italian family and her mom made the best sauce in the world! Even my own mom’s pasta was never that good! Every holiday and weekend that I can remember revolved around spending some of my time at home and the rest at Lisa’s. Her home was my home away from home and it smelled like tomatoes, onions, herbs and garlic and family!

Their old dog would regally greet me from his post in front of the house and the other would come running to meet me in the garage as I entered the laundry room. As I took off my shoes I was always greeted with a “MEGGIE!” from Lisa’s dad who would brighten my day no matter how I felt before I arrived. He was a tough guy with a big heart and a winning smile. His sons matched. I loved them all deeply like the brothers they were to me growing up.

In an Italian family everything is “big”! Emotions run high and activity is busy. Laughter is a part of the equation and always in the air. When music is playing, often women are singing their hearts out. Occasionally it may be out of tune, but beautiful nonetheless. This is where I belonged and I felt welcome. My cares would shed off me at the door and be forgotten in the flurry of activity. I was an insider with shared secrets and stories! Men told the family tales whilst playing cards and I remember hovering to listen. Truth and olden day wisdom and some tough times were spoken of and mark my memories of yesterday. The women usually remained near the kitchen where endless lessons and wisdom was imparted to the young. 3 to 4 generations lived close enough to share time and no one felt alone. If anything, it was tough to find space but I had plenty of this at home and Lisa could escape with me too.

While Lisa felt that her brothers never had to do anything (which was pretty much true) I didn’t really mind and would help out so that we could have more time together. They got such a kick out of how much I could eat. Lisa’s mom could never feed me enough spaghetti! She insisted I have a plate before going home and I would oblige waddling home uncomfortable yet satisfied.

“Mange’, mange’”, they would shout and everyone would laugh. I even was nick named “Hoover” or “Foot” as the brothers teased endlessly. It was all part of the fun!

The cousins arrived on any given weekend and we would spend hours playing outdoors regardless of the weather. Only after you were worn out and well fed did things slow down and that meant more cards and music or a special show or football game to get involved in. Room to room would represent all ages and community. It was good old fashioned and fun! When a bit too much wine was had, the laughter and noise increased and occasional battles of will emerged. The language had rougher edges. Laughter or tears would trade places too but were gone in a fleeting instance. There was always love. When shuffled off to bed. Lisa and I would spend endless hours chatting and drawing and dreaming together! We had each other and we knew we could conquer the world with spaghetti and meatballs and a big pot of sauce!

Josh is not Italian but he is lucky too!

 

 

Perspectives


A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry.

Angels Touch

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The Man: John

As we walk the dogs through the park I think, “What is the use? I can’t make this any better, no matter how hard I try! “Ally stays stoic, my rock, but I know that she is hurting too as we glance simultaneously at the old woman. She faces me and pulls me in and I smell the warmth of her skin and the sweetness of her breath upon my shoulder. How does she do this, bringing immediate peace within that hug? She just holds me, like mom used to do and I don’t care if the little old lady sees me crying. I just cry and hold on tight releasing the pain. The ache is so deep and so new! The wound opens up again although I thought that I had buried it along with her. I guess I was wrong.

My mother will never see our little one growing inside Ally. It is so wrong! She was so young! I remember how excited she was the day we told her about the baby. She would finally become a grandmother and this child would be mine. I was the one who was never going to go down that road but that all changed with Ally. Mum knew it! She was so excited and a bit worried too. I just never understood.

The last time we spoke, angry words and those of worry were expressed but I didn’t listen. “Shouldn’t there have been a sign?”

Words were left unspoken. She was there and then she was gone. There was no time to think or respond in any other way than with pure heart wrenching agony. I miss her so!

We part and keep walking, the dogs nudging us along. The woman continues to knit on the bench.  She looks up as we pass and in that moment, we all are one, a secret smile passing between in a fleeting moment.

The Woman: Ally

“John is usually so strong and since his mum died, everything has changed!” she thinks as she walks beside the man she loves. “He is so lost without her.”

I turn and pull him towards me and all I can do is hold on. As he releases all that tension, I feel his shoulders drop and lose the rigidity that is evident in his posture. I look over his shoulder and I watch the woman knitting. She gazes up at me and gives me a soft sad smile, then turns away looking down at her work and continuing. I see the teardrop fall upon the wool she so lovingly creates.

John doesn’t see this and I know that if he had, a conversation would have passed between them. There was a connection somehow and I think perhaps, “Maybe his mother is there on that bench right now, watching on. Silly, I guess.”

John’s mum never would have knit. It wasn’t her style. She would however strike up a conversation with just about everyone she came upon. She would bring a smile to their face even on the dreariest of days and that is why I could see her there with that old woman brightening her day. She would have boasted about the baby coming and that she “Finally” was becoming a grandma! “It is so unfair that she will not get the chance! She lived balanced and fair and she had to be struck down too early, and after that fight!”Ally stopped this thought abruptly as her thoughts returned to John.

“Would he be ok? Would he return to his fun loving self and be more self- assured? It certainly wasn’t his fault!”

These thoughts filled her head as she held him and felt the wind pick up in his sails. She said nothing. The dogs nudged them on and as they pass the woman, she looks up and a secret smile passes over her lips.

Old Woman: unnamed

I look up from my knitting and I look into the eyes of the man as he approaches. There is something in his sadness that touches me and I feel as though I know him. He looks through me as his eyes rest on the knitting I will likely never finish. He begins to cry. I turn away, pretending not to notice. “What could it be, that brings such tears on a walk?”

I revert my gaze to the little dogs. The pair faces each other and embrace. I feel like I am an intruder and yet I feel connected.

“I was young once too, but that was long ago.”

I stop my work and look up and catch the woman’s eye. The moment is so private and yet I feel as though I am one with the couple. I see her bump and look back at my little red sweater and the tears begin for me. My tiny precious grandchild will not wear this as I had planned as they told me that they “lost” her. “How can you “lose” a baby?” The kids these days speak so differently and block their pain so easily. Perhaps that is why this couple touches my soul.

“Should I pass the sweater on to them? No, that would be intruding. I do not even know them! I will go back to minding my own business.”

As the couple walks by, their eyes meet mine and the smile I give is one of understanding and hope. We are one in that moment in the blink of an eye.

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Dreaming in Doonan


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The steps leading to the veranda invite a smile. The fruit shop is quiet, as is the café’. The hanging, hand-knit beanies draw Josh’s gaze. Dewdrops remain on the ramp from this morning’s rain. The staff greet the day with care and the touch of a succulent and an olive tree growing from a recycled soybean oil container catch my eye, reminding me of a place faraway, perhaps Italy or the south of France. But no, I am in Australia. The kookaburra articulates his morning songs to his mate in the canopy as we order.

The deli items entice but a sit-down breakfast is what we seek. We pick a number, woven of colourful, woolen yarn stretched over nails shaped on a wooden block. These are new and give a splash of bright tonal contrast to the bench. They sit next to the frequent coffee club box filled with cards of local customers. I am one of them and today our coffees are free! Our number is 4 and we find a table at the edge of the porch overlooking the bush. We sit facing each other and I study my son. His dreadlocks blend into his woven jacket and portray his musical nature. He looks tired despite a good nights rest. I look out and see tables scattered across the green grass leading to the road. Cars and trucks whizz past. They are oblivious to this quiet gem with fantastic coffee. The trees provide a canopy of shade.

DSC_9329A magpie swoops down and sits on a chair overseeing the food service. A customer shoos him away but he’ll be back. I am out for morning breakfast with Josh and I am grateful for his presence and this gift of time. The morning is perfect.

The tables, topped with rustic cloth, give the impression of a farm country cottage and the kitchen provides the aroma of herbs and garlic and apple and cinnamon. The atmosphere is homey and warm and welcoming.

The family staff cooks our meals. Josh picks up the sounds of the song, A “Horse With No Name”. He sings along and remembers our road-trip playlists together. As we sip our Cappuccino’s, we talk about our lives and share. Sometimes we are silent.

We hear the blender and Josh orders a juice. The books lining the shelves and the scattered art lead the eye to the tree branches attempting to enter the café from beneath the aluminium roof. They wind their branches as they enter. Flower vases balance the natural wood and the stools beside the grille whisper conversation. Breakfast is served.