Country Boys and Country Girls

Ripple Poetry

Image by June Perkins

A song lyric

Country boys and country girls
dream more than sugar cane.
Country boys and country girls
want more than endless rain.

They’re picking stars from skies above.
They’re catching pieces of the moonlight.
They’re running to the canopies
of light.

Country boys and country girls
often hide their pain
but they’re still holding
onto all their dreams
looking into the firelight
to find the global streams.

They’re picking stars from skies above
They’re catching pieces of the moonlight
They’re running to the canopies of light.

Country boys and country girls
often leave these towns
‘cause when the pickings done
there’s too few jobs around
and when a cyclone’s been
it’s even harder still
but now they’ve just got to
have a stronger will.

So they’re leaving behind the sugar cane
they’re saying goodbye
to endless rain
And they’re still looking
for the canopies of…

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Driving City and keeping a challenge small

trafficImage Credit: Greg Neate Creative Commons some rights reserved

Those of you who follow this blog regularly will know that I have been a bit wary of driving in Brisbane.  So much so that I just didn’t drive at all for our first few months here.

You will know that it took me many years to finally obtain my licence  and I have only had it for a few short years and that my PNG Mum has never obtained her license.

You may not know that I felt like all my ancestors were with me the day I got my license.  It was a big deal!  I was doing it for my Mum as much as myself.

I have loved having a license and being able to stretch my horizons with the freedom it brings.  I especially enjoyed shopping without all the family in tow!

I think part of the problem with me driving in the city is that I learnt to drive in the country.  I just wasn’t sure I could safely cut it on city roads.

A dear  blog reader did say,’ you are just making a bigger obstacle for yourself June, just do it,’ and so her voice was in my head a lot in a positive way, saying ‘ you can do it!’

So yesterday I took the plunge, and began to drive again.

We started by dusting off the driving cobwebs with a  Sunday afternoon, simple back street drive,  on flat roads, through a countrified surburb.  Some how I ended up driving past a prison,  a mental hospital, and a lot of large kangaroos.  I had no idea where we were going as we were just driving for the sake of driving.

I negotiated lane changing and merging on small roads, past lots of roundabouts.  I paid particular attention to being even more watchful on the road, and using my mirrors.  Lots of my country drives were highway single lane, straight into town.  Really simple!  It’s not that you are not paying attention to the road, it’s just that there is so much less that can go wrong.  Driving around town in the country was very simple as well.

I did okay for my first city drive, but then I didn’t do anything too complex, next time I will build on that.  It might be a slow adjusting process, but I think I will work the most on lane changing safely as I just haven’t had to do that much at all , and our suburb is super hilly so I have to do a lot of hill driving practice till it becomes second nature.

The best thing about Sunday was lifting the chip on my shoulder and hurling it off into the bush! I look forward to the day I feel confident to drive and navigate my new home, but am happy to have taken the first wheels in that direction.  Many more driving adventures to come, starting with the simple and building to the days of complexity, like some of the wet season driving in the North, now that was a challenge!

 

(c) June Perkins

 

Hidden Walks

Have been writing a few pieces inspired by photographs.
It’s important to write some of these down whilst I remember the emotions and places. How long will my memory last, how far back can it reach?

Following the Crow Song

banana field Banana Field in Tully Town – June Perkins

Every town, urban or rural, has the hidden walks.  These are the ones the locals know about and love.  These walks can be found in the oddest places.

They might be alongside a river, behind a school, near a local airport, through a school or field, down a road you found one day,  or up a hill to a street with the perfect view.

These are the places I love to walk and photograph with my family, because they are not so obvious.  Yet they are the places you come to know if you live somewhere for any length of time.

I loved that a rural town like Tully has banana and cane fields right up to the border of town.  I loved that when you headed around the streets walking you found small creeks almost everywhere.

It had a hidden beauty…

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The country heart opening to the city

 

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A found creek near our new home

Since moving back to the city I miss that the country heart knows the families of the people the streets are named after, and always has the possibility of running into people well known when on a trip to the supermarket.

I found that like a security blanket, because everywhere I went there was nearly always someone known and trusted who would help you out.

I knew all the people in the stores and every outing to buy something came with a conversation.  I had so many friends so easy to drop in on, and they were all ages.  I loved some of the older members of the community who knew stories about so many things.

I could navigate my car trips very easily in and around Tully and the outlying townships, and drive by suburb, then cane, and banana field just outside the town.  The changing landscapes were interesting and sometimes we’d go on photography adventures to find hidden creeks that were beautiful to photograph.  Nature was so near.

The country wasn’t perfect though.  Sometimes that feeling of safety was interrupted and random things happened like someone trying to make us open our doors in the middle of the night when they were drunk or drugged and our car window being smashed outside our home in the middle of nowhere happened.  It hurt knowing that someone who knew us felt the need to do that.  We always thought we just got along with everyone.

But most of the time people have to be pleasant to each other as they are always going to run into each other, and conflicts need to be resolved.  There are some people who don’t understand that and treat people as if they can avoid them and they just don’t have a country heart.

The friendships I made there are some of the truest I have ever made.  They can be much harder to make in the beginning, but after time, a couple of cyclones, and even being a fellow mother trying to find a school community that makes your children feel at home, with very small choices, you find people and the place grow on you. I will never forget a mum from Kindy running up to me and saying, ‘you have to swap classes, the best teacher is this one, ‘ how right she was!

Yet, I struggled to find regular, fulfilling paid work to use my university education .  My occupations in the country were a patchwork of projects, the occassional consistent job and short term work I absolutely loved but which ended,  lots of voluntary work, and of course the bounty of being a parent who could become involved in the community.  One of my best memories is a parent/ teacher  race at an athletics carnival and the kids yelling out ‘ Go Mrs Perkins.’

There are possibilities in the city that suit the things I learnt in the country though.  The country was the place where I have found my writing and photographic voice.  It is a place full of artists and writers who want to be close to nature and part of vibrant community.

Now it’s a journey to try and relearn city life, and to find security in building new networks.  I am not there yet.  But I do find corners of green, people who care and want to assist me to learn how to be a city girl.

I have a country girls fears of the city, and a murder of a student at South Bank has had me worried,  but sadly there’s another back at the quiet community I came from.  Perhaps the whole world, city or country needs to build protection for all, so women, children, and men can truly be safe any place and time of day.

The first signs I have that the city can open its heart to us, are people who reach out to talk with us at the park.    An American with a basketball wonders what I am photographing and comes to ask me.

A small boy watches my son and the rest of the family playing AFL whilst his Dad is playing a community soccer game.  He comes and joins us.

I find the patches of green in the city, and love to come across a creek, and an inviting park with my family with me.

I don’t miss our old home when the cyclone season comes, because those butterflies as you wait to see how strong and which direction are horrible when you know what a large one can do.  I don’t miss the flooding, but I do still love our flooded in times as we had extra family time, and tales to tell.  I will always remember the canoe across the road.

I have to now take those first steps more boldly in our new home, just as my children are managing to do and add to my country heart, an openess to the city and the skills to navigate, use public transport, and connect with people.  Yet somewhere deep inside I can feel that my priorities have changed and will never be as they once were.

I have a feeling the country will call again.

 

The Farmer’s Wife: Piece 16

daily bread
‘Daily Bread’- Wolfgang Foto- Flickr Creative Commons

 

She teaches me how to drive a car as if I was an extra sister or a daughter, so I can be free to leave my country home.  She says St Christopher will keep me safe when travelling and on the day of my driving test.

Country places are shocking for public transport and not being able to drive is like being in your own personal prison.  Especially when the big wet and sweltering heat come, and make you fade away with each step.

She’s much more than a farmer’s wife.  Yet, she is a farmer’s wife.

She dedicates herself to family as if it’s her truest vocation and not once ever is there a sense of regret.

She’s at every recital, concert, sporting carnival, P and C event and her loyalty never wavers.  She’s selling raffle tickets in the street.  She’s organising reunions, and trips overseas.  She’s not scared of seeing more of this world.

She’s found her fulfillment in others finding their dreams, like the best coaches who pull world records from people.  Every milestone for her children is their own world record.

She appreciates good teachers, who see more than cane farms and banana picking as outcomes for rural students.

She appreciates the behind scenes people to good teachers, and takes them under her wing, so they can find their dreams – adding them to her task list.

She doesn’t expect her sons will come back and take over the family farm; they will build new lives, wherever they choose.  But she’ll take every opportunity to build family connection spaces for them all to come together in the country way.  She’ll build these wherever she has to, even if it’s away from the country.

I can never be her, but I can see all the backbone she gives her family, this community.

There are many like her, the deeper one looks beneath the surface of country towns.

Whether her spirit of service, sacrifice and love will live on in her children is something neither of us will ever really see.

She’s the soul and spirit of all that is best in small country towns.

One day she and hubby will retire from the land, and the family oasis she built will be their new home.

She’ll ease his pain as he misses his tractor and the cane burns.  Like a wife of a solider returning from war, she will see his heart break as the farm goes to someone else’s son whose dreams lie in the land.

She’ll shake the soil off his clothes one more time. Counsel and laugh for them both.

She’ll remind him their daughter might be the country doctor one day.

She’s much more than a farmer’s wife.  Yet, she is a farmer’s wife.

She’s shaped the way I see the country now.   She’s given me the strength and some extra skills to be much more independent in my life.

to cut the bread
‘To Cut the Bread’ Wolfgang Foto – Flickr Creative commons

Inspired by the Who Shaped Me project for ABC Open, this month’s  Pearlz Dreaming blog theme will be about the people who inspire me and there are lots of them! Goal 19 pieces on Who Shaped Me.