the phone rings
John has gone to see Shelli to have her hands of magic remind his back of how to line up so I am on call.
is that Sandy ? says the tiny phone voice
yes it is.
how are you Sandy ?
good in fact a most amazing thing happened at dawn this morning
I woke to a palette of yellow the world was painted bright golden yellow.
I sat on the bed and stared not the red sunrise colours this was yellow . I nudged John you have to see.
he blinked from under the covers too snuggy to care much.
I wanderd out to the kitchen then outside. it didnt come from anywhere the sky was its usual whitish grey with puffy clouds and a smear of blue .
there was no obvious sign of this glory, it just was it just filled the entire space . after a bit it disappeared and the day seemed washed out lacking in colour somehow.
we walked after a hearing the glad news from Elsie that she had met her dog her dog to be. Words tumbled and bubbled from her spilling joy into our home amd hearts . Still some weeks away but the long cherished guide is prepared and coming to walk with her and so we walked out beyond the gate whipped by cold winds and hunched deep in our jackets .
how are you Carole ?
there are no solutions for this friend, there is only band aids and hugs and I try to be good at both.
I’ve got the form she says they want my pension card photocopied .
I know my next line so I say it .
I can do that . this is to get her a rebate on her $1800 rate bill.
then she tells me she has just paid an $800 electrickery bill and it took all her pension plus.
it’s that bloody stove of yours Carole.
it’s the heater she says but I have to have it on
of course you do it is winter afterall and the house is so very very cold .
I return to the stove theme even though I know better I cannot help trying to fix something there.
the house is not wired up for a stove so she uses a plug into a power point one. are you using the old one or the new one your cousin bought you?
the old one . that new one is chinese and its no good sandy.
then the phone bill rears its $250 head and I learn about another form she needs help with to get priority in having her phone fixed straight away. I need it sandy I cant be without what if I fell what if… ????
of course you need it I murmurr but really I am close to screaming with pain for this battler.
now what about food ? not much she says, I need cake sandy
cake wow ok .
I’ve been sick and you wouldn’t know where I could get any cake would you ? she is sly this woman she is rat cunning she is an adept player of emotions she is a wheedler a survivor a charmer a whiner if tears will get her way she will cry.
and she does … sobbing about the road and them up the back of the valley making trouble.
I did ring Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority I tell her who apparently haven’t got any when it comes to the Illawambra creek but suggest we talk to Council which has been done and the road looks like that.
We have to stop them we have to . it is making me sick she cries.
I need cake real bad sandy it’s an energy food for me.
Carole I haven’t got time to bake to-day.
I wrap up the last two pieces of canadian orange cake and scour the pantry for some provisions finding a couple of spuds a carrot some cauli a pkt of kingston biscuits a punnet of strawberries a pkt of two minute noodles a couple of apples and some rolled oats.
and then I head off along County Boundary road stopping at Eagles View for two dozen freshly squeezed out eggs before turning up at Figtree for a cuppa with Suzy. She has baked a chocolate coconut slice . the fire is on and we drink black tea hand delivered all the way from China. Steve arrives home with a ute full of wood and joins us. I mention Carole and they open their pantry cupboard. Steve hands me marmalade and Suzy puts together a hamper of still warm slice a pear some onions tins of salmon and sardines even dolmades.
I did look for vine leaves for you when I was in Melbourne she said. thank you but Bec has bought us a mega jar we just need the occasion now.
I am running late fighting the clock driving quickly, there is a meeting to catch in Bega concerning the refugee situation
concern being the operative word.
John wants to go we want to do something we want it to change we want so many many things to be different.
the Bega Valley Rural Australians for Refugees group is being re activated.
Carole is down behind the barn feeding lambs when I arrive. it takes her ages to get up to the fence and haul herself over
slowly so slowly she makes her way to me and leans into me . I hold her she cries.
I am a little impatient having spent too long at Suzys enjoying myself.
crouching down under the trees along the path to the house avoiding the stinging nettle past the cages with the red eyed albino guinea pigs and sidestepping the scratching wild hens up onto the verandah where several large boxes shrouded in blankets are bleating.
there’s twins in that one she says. She takes the lambs off their mums and hand rears them by keeping them warm and snuggy in the dark.
if you peel back the layers they try to clamber into your arms in their short woolly coats with their wet tongues hunting milk.
what are they this year Carole ? girls she says
great girls means a good summer a summer of rain and fertility.
boys mean dry drought a hard year.
this is the weather according to Carole and mostly she nails it.
in the kitchen we unpack the food look at the forms and before I am out the kitchen door with the pension card she is sitting down to tuck in.
I guess she was really hungry.
today she rings
what do you need I ask ?
water I’m out of water
and some fat sausages I’ve got $5 she says.
if I could sell some manure I could buy some stuff and she cries again. again the road ….again . …..
I’ll see you tomorrow ok
another reality later we are sitting in the DaMa Lounge at Mumbulla School with people of heart and compassion with intelligence and energy and ideas that flow from home respite to letters written to policy development to flyers that bust myths and events .
afterwards we eat out like on a date
coming home in the dark and cold.
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