ANZAC Day Rising My Spirits

The advantage of having been sleepless lately is that waking up before 5am to get to the Dawn Service for Anzac Day was much easier.

I had this strong desire to be there, and I walked through darkness to get to Georges Heights, in Mosman.

If I was in an unsafe place I would have been afraid when I heard running behind me of multiple pairs of legs; but looking back this mother and small boy informed me ‘the alarm didn’t go off’ and ran ahead.

We got there in time, the service was just starting, permeated by the smell of sausage sizzle and the gentle frying sound that my mind kept sending me as images of waterfalls.

The morning singing birds reminded me of the time when I arrived in beautiful Sydney, fourteen years ago, they bring an unnamed tightness to my chest of love, longing, adventure.

The service was beautiful, and the part that I loved the most was a very simple letter from a soldier who wrote it to the father of his fallen friend. I cried, those words that crossed oceans and time made their way to us, to remind us of the sense of loss and love.

The Dogs and the General
The Dogs and the General

I have strong feelings against war, but warm feelings towards people, families, and soldiers who make the ultimate sacrifice for a greater cause.

When the speaker told us of this land that receives so many peoples from over the seas, I felt welcomed and warm in the Australian embrace.

Line in the Sky
Dawn on ANZAC Day

The sunrise wasn’t as spectacular today, but the moment was of beauty and sadness and happiness to be here. I felt my bond to this land deepening, even more.

On my way home I saw a lot of flashing lights, police cars, one of them making a bus reverse out of the main road, as if it was a cowboy herding a stubborn bull.

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I was privileged to wave to the diggers coming through in a long motorcade of mini-buses and taxis, all white haired, dressed to impress and the word that came to my mind was that they were beautiful.

I got home under a light shower, filled with the sense of belonging, adventure and safety.

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Writing in a Hippie Paradise

In front of me, all I can see is green. Green grass, green trees, green hills and green mountains. I can hear the creek that runs at the back of the property and the birds singing. The fresh smell of wet soil and bush is invigorating.

About one year and a half ago I had this brilliant idea that if I wasn’t able to write full time yet, I could pretend, for a few days here and there, that I did. That is when I did the first of my writing trips. I’m now on my fifth trip. (See here how to organise your own writing trip)

I had mentioned these trips to a friend and she offered me to house sit for her over Easter while she was away. I feel very lucky that she did so.

I’m taking care of her house and two cats. I’m in love with Mojo, I think it is mostly because he doesn’t care who is providing the cuddles, as long as someone is. Once or twice a day he comes to me for a caressing session. Eve, the other cat, well, we tolerate each other. I think she knows I’m not the right person, doesn’t want any cuddles, ‘just food, thank you’, she tells me with her eyes… I’m sure she is thinking ‘who are you, impostor!’ I don’t do what she wants ‘open the door right this minute I want to look outside’ (at 9 pm) and she doesn’t do what I ask ‘come back in right this minute so I can close the door’ (at 7 pm), she turns around giving me her wriggling backside.

Mojo is a vanishing artist, he disappears and I look for him everywhere thinking he must be outside when half an hour later he prowls from somewhere in the house… I swear he has to be able to open and close doors, that is the only possible explanation.

Eve is obsessed with looking outside the front door. I leave it propped open and it is not that she wants to go outside, she just wants to sit there, looking out.

One of the things that make my heart jump in happiness, is the constant presence of the Wallabies. They come to the house everyday. I know I probably should not let them eat my friend’s trees, vegetables and grass but I don’t have the heart to make them go away. Fortunately I wasn’t specifically instructed to do so, and that will be my excuse.

They are absolutely silent when they are around, you can only hear when they hop, producing this endearing thump, thump sound.

Yesterday I saw a baby roo and it saw me. It jumped, fast as lightening to its mum, and dived straight into the pouch, head first. Took him a few minutes to turn around and look at me with uncertain eyes. I think they keep looking straight at you to assess if you are a threat.

On my first morning here I saw a Moses walking down the hill. Or was it a Gandalf? Except it was a female one. She had long white hair, billowing dramatically in the wind and walked holding a wooden staff, followed by a dog.

She has a hen house near the creek and walks down twice a day to let the birds out, feed them and put them inside to sleep in the evening. Yesterday the hens were not collaborating and I heard the woman talking to them what sounded like “come-on birds, it’s time to go in”. They are Helmeted Guineafowls, I believe, and responded loudly “buckwheat, buckwheat” running around.

Iwon’t criticise. At that exact moment I was talking to the cats “are you hungry? Is that what you want? It is a bit early…”. “Meow, meow.”

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A couple of times, I went to the town centre, for a better word to call it, a couple of streets with a couple of stores. I understood why I heard the place being called Hippie Country… I felt as if I had walked through a portal and ended up in the seventies, inside one of those pictures of big hippie festivals, you could smell the unnatural sweetness of the air. I was told to be ware of the brownies and cookies… (I’ve never tried one for the fear they might make me turn normal.)

There isn’t a supermarket, but there is an Emporium. It reminds me of the small city stores of old, it had the cramped corridors and everything you can possibly imagine. I had to squeeze around to let people pass all the time. It was wonderful.

The funny part is that they had organic, sustainable and environmental products for everything, they would put any big city supermarket to shame! Recycled toilet paper, sustainably caught tuna, earth safe cleaning products, you name it… I went into a bakery and asked for a carry bag (looking forward to using such bag for garbage) and the sales woman looked at me as if I had said profanities about her mother, I swear she looked positivelly disgusted as she mumbled something about “plastic bags”.

The street had stores of funky t-shirts with flowers on them, organic preserves, herbs and spices shops; organic food cafes and organic juice shops. Everything was very colourful, painted in strong colours of purple, yellow, green and blue and a few rainbows, and a lot of the people really dressed the part.

I didn’t think they were a relaxed bunch though, in two blocks I heard one woman complaining about the drama, not sure what happened, then a man was screaming abuse at everyone and a third said that her friend just lost her license, because of alcohol.

What was absolutely wonderful was the art. I went to an exposition at the town hall and there were many different styles for many different preferences but I thought most were very inspired.

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At the house, most of the time there is a deep seeded silence, except for crickets and birds, but some other times I think people come away from civilisation not to enjoy this wonderful tranquility, but to make noise undisturbed. With so much green, often enough a neighbour decides to cut the grass, or a tree, or blow leaves, or bang on wood or listen to opera so loud someone at the top of the mountain can also hear it.

But still, frequently there is a tranquil and wonderful peace.

(Is it too bad of me that I keep wishing that the grass mower breaks, the head of the hammer detaches and flies away never to be found again, or that the opera singer turns mute? Poor neighbours… bad me.)

I’m enjoying the changes in colour and mood of the scenery, the rain and the sun, the fresh breeze that comes in the afternoon, and the hot air in the middle of the day. Including the sounds, even the noises, but more when they go away. So many different bird songs, colours in the sky, smells that remind me of childhood farms and ranches.

This is the perfect writing scenario, especially as the sun sets right in front of my writing desk!

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Top of the World

I’m at the top of the world. At least what I was told is the highest restaurant in Australia, The Eagle’s Nest, after taking the Kosciuszko Express lift in Thredbo. It definitely feels like the top of the world.Since my legs aren’t very happy to ski this morning, I have decided to come to do something else I love doing…

Eagles Nest

I came to the mountains to ski, but my very-advanced-beginners level is letting me down today and I’m not even reaching an intermediate-beginners level. I feel tired with muscles screaming. It might be because I’m not very fit this year or maybe it has to do with sharing a room with 4 people, who took forever to go to bed yesterday, after a long drive from Sydney meaning I went to sleep almost 3am. Then a $ˆ#ing phone rang three times between then and 5am. The very unconsidered person did not turn the phone off even after I asked her to.

It is difficult to go back to sleep because you keep thinking “in which world, does this person thinks this is okay?” We all had to wake up early to get breakfast, ski gear and passes, before seven I was up with a headache. I’ve upgraded for tonight to a very single, wonderful, phone-ringing-and-conversation free room.

I have decided to make the best of it, and here I am looking out, seeing brown mountains contrasting with very white snow. Rocks that look like dinosaur droppings, but pretty nonetheless.
I just heard one of the waitresses talking to the other:

‘Did you bring your board?’

‘Yeah’

‘When you finish do you wanna go down?’

Meaning, after work they snow-board mountain down. How cool is that?


Like one of my gurus say, this is living the life of my dreams to the degree that I can.

It did not start as fancy stuff, it is a backpacker’s trip, but can it get any better? Writing with mountain views, eating the best wine garlic prawns ever, and knowing I will even sleep tonight?
This place has a cinnamon smell and offers hot chocolate with Baileys. Guess what I will order next?
I can say with my whole heart, head and body into it: I’m happy.