Wednesday, April 30, 2014

From A Land Down Under

Changing it up a little with this post by sharing a wee snippet of nostalgia and creative writing from a time and place that still remain vividly imprinted in my memory.

It's been 7 years since I last adventured off this continent to Oz. It was my home for 10 months, but in that short period of time the entire trajectory of my life shifted. When I returned to Canada, I was compelled to write and I found myself writing almost exclusively about my time in the Land Down Under. Here is one piece of writing in a series I simply titled 'Australian Vignettes'.   

Saving Wales

A kookaburra laughs at me incessantly. Clutching my mobile phone, my eyes sweep the caked-dry dirt path in front of me as I quicken my pace, the muted browns and yellows of the drought-laden landscape threatening to strike out at my exposed ankles. Tara and Jake bound ahead, their floppy ears batting away the horseflies, their pink tongues sponging up the dry, dusty air of the Australian outback they frenetically chase the promise of adventure, oblivious to the fear paralyzing their human companion.

Gravity-fed by a dam that is as parched as the straw grass that pock marks the barren valley, the water pump has gone again. I am charged with fixing it or calling a plumber. Trotting lightly along the path Jo and Jason have carved out with the Ranger, I curse self-determination.  Gritting my teeth, I push my bejewelled mauve sunglasses up the sweaty bridge of my nose and replay the practice session in my head.  Some twenty pairs of brown eyes take in my frantic trotting. A herd of curious, thirsty Welsh ponies follow along the fence line. The soft, rhythmic beat of their hooves against the hard clay is reassuring, a warning to any slithery outback creatures to stay away.

There it sits under a swaggering eucalyptus, canopied from the harsh heat of a January sun, remarkably white, its enamel smooth and its claws perfectly manicured. For one long heart beat I am tempted by the unspoken invitation to strip off my sweaty mucking-out clothes and skinny dip in the Outback’s bathtub-turned-water-trough. Self-consciously, I look back over my shoulder for unwanted voyeurs. They are still, standing in headstrong formation, waiting for their water goddess to save Wales.

Instructions on How to Save Wales:

Turn the orange valve clockwise as far as it will go. Ditto for the valve in the ground too. Slide down to the water’s edge of the neighbour’s dam. Turn the water pump’s motor switch to ‘on’ and then yank the cord hard until the motor starts. Then the black hose has to fill with water. You can tell when it does, it’ll be heavy. Be patient, watch for snakes while you wait.  Then turn everything off, close the valves and go back to the house. If the toilet flushes, the pump’s working and you've saved Wales. 

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