What do you see?

Melbourne. This is where the love affair began almost thirty years ago. Not my love affair with my husband which was already burning bright when I arrived. I’m talking about my love affair with Australia.

My early weeks were spent looking for work, hopping off and on the noisy trams. I puzzled over train routes and adapted to the volatile climate. The squat brick houses with their terracotta roofs and fenced front yards soon became part of my psyche. So did the deliciously ornate buildings constructed during the gold rush years that started in 1851. By the 1880’s Melbourne was the richest city in the world which is reflected in the fabulous architecture from that period.

Knowing how way leads on to way, (thank you, Robert Frost) I realize I may not see these sites again. So this week, when my husband and I walked the neighbourhood where we bought our first home together, I absorbed as many details as I could. Sniffing the faint scent of eucalyptus on the air, I listened to the call of the wattlebirds and touched the rough case of the gum nuts from the tree on the nature strip outside our old fence. I hope I caught enough of the texture of this city to last a lifetime.

Soon we will set off into the desert to explore new places and retrace old steps. My novel, Outback Promise which will be released in November, is set on that sprawling landscape. I will walk in Rosalyn Balfour’s shoes again and refresh my memories of her troubled journey.

My love affair with Australia may have started in Melbourne but it soon spread to every corner of the continent. Even in the harshest part of the Outback there is great beauty and renewal, which is one of the themes of my novel.

Is there one place you’ve said good-bye to that you’d like to see again? Where is it and what would you hope to take away as your final impression?

Photo of Flinders Street Station, Melbourne by Alan Bolitho, LM (leading man)>

Do you ever question tradition?

Anna Jarvis, the woman who started the Mother’s Day madness regretted its commercialization long before she died in 1948.

What would she think if she were to see the frenetic buying that marks this annual event now?

I had to go into a major Australian shopping centre today. The noise of the spruikers and whirr of the cash registers almost deafened me.

Where are the cards, I wondered, for someone who has the nebulous relationship I have with my mother? Not all mothers are saints. All that needs to be said is: I did not buy my mother a flowery card full of sugary sentiment this year or any other.

If people are so devoted to their mothers, why is single day needed to celebrate that fact? Why not go over to her house on a regular basis and cut her lawn or wash her windows? Or take her flowers when she doesn’t expect it? Why wait for Hallmark and your local department store to tell you that it’s time to recognize what she has done for you?

If we could take this fatuous day off our calendars, who would really be the loser?

Please don’t misunderstand me. I respect and admire parents of both genders—raising children is one of the most difficult challenges on earth. I just wonder: do we really need yet another season of buying trinkets to acknowledge that fact?

Picture from Wikimedia Commons: photo of Anna Jarvis posted by Olairian

What did you survive today?

Driving down the steep, twisty roads of the Australian Alps this afternoon, my husband and I did not die.

We did not die by approximately 4-5 seconds. A car careened around a blind corner toward us, on our side of the road. He was racing at 30-40 kph an hour over the speed limit and 100% over the sanity limit.

We screeched to a stop while the blue bullet swerved back into its lane. In our car, the ABS grabbed and the dash cam blinked into emergency recording status.

A couple hours earlier we saw a car that hadn’t been so lucky. Maybe it was a warning.

Car on the side of the road, Mt. Kosciuszko National Park.

Car on the side of the road, Mt. Kosciuszko National Park.

Either way we made it to our next accommodation—an old church—in one piece. I’m going to give thanks the best way I know how. I’m going to work on my novel!

What stories of near-misses do you have to tell?