Blue Bonnets

I wrote this poem a few years ago, but in light of the recent events in Texas it seemed a good time to share it publicly.

At the time I penned it a mother had suddenly lost her husband and I was extremely moved by her situation. The poem is not specifically about her, but more about grief – and then I read the legend of the Blue Bonnets and the poem took shape.

The poem has taken on new meanings for me in the wake of recovery from cyclone yasi, which it seems we only now start to truly feel relieved from.

When the newspapers and  most media go, and headlines diminish families are still left rebuilding, recovering and having to learn to let go to truly be free in the spirit. This is by no means easy. Yet somehow we get there in the end, and stories have a power to help us make it the point of renewal.


Funerals like rain
Fall from clouds
Young boys say ‘goodbye’
As father’s lowered to the ground

Mother stands alone
Tears become her shroud
Funeral goers utter not a sound.

She hears blue guitar strums
She’s pounding melancholy’s drums.

Texas and Tully are so far apart
Yet they share skies
Where hawks and ibis fly

Storms and troubles rock both their shores
Warn their people to depart.

She tells her children
the legend of the Texas Blue Bonnet flower

A young girl gave up her warrior doll,
The last reminder of family,
To invoke a higher power.

She burnt her warrior doll
Its head dress of blue feathers
Offered up its ashes
To the North, South, East and West Winds
So hunger and loss it would tether.

She cried herself to sleep.
Let her memory weep.

When she awoke
Never before seen flowers,
Clambered the mountains
Birds made their bowers
People drank from hope’s fountains.

The mother with the shroud
Inside’s the little girl
Who’ll burn her own warrior doll
She knows what must be done

She’ll let her dreams unfurl.
She’ll wait till all sleep then
Pull out her favourite guitar
Take those blue cords
Burn them, banish them

Scatter their ashes,
North, South, East and West.

The dry season will begin
Floods have had their fun
A looking- to-the-future music
will now begin to grow.

By June Perkins

blue bonnets
Herself- Flickr Creative Commons

People in our lives in 2011

I could have focused this year’s round up on events and achievements, but instead it’s all about people.  We’ve had so many people touch our lives this year this post is dedicated to just some of them.


Some awesome Tully people all banding together after Yasi

We shared experiences, checked up on each other and watched television at anyone’s house with a generator.  There are so many wonderful locals in Tully and surrounds.  This will always be a very special photograph to me.

visitofprince1 - two happy locals
Two friends waiting to meet or glimpse Prince William in Cyclone Yasi Territory .

I gave a copy of this photograph to these two lovely ladies and they loved how happy they looked.  It was so good to capture joy after the experience of Cyclone Yasi.  I know one of the ladies as she volunteers in a local scrapbooking shop and is always happy for a yarn up when you visit.  Typical of Tully we have many mutual friends and have met from time to time at other events.

I loved the look on Prince William’s Face as he met the Cassowary in art. I was contented to photograph other people’s joy and didn’t try to meet the Prince.


Prince William in Tully meeting locals

My sons and hubby will never forget meeting Phil Emmanuel and watching him tune up his guitar. He was on last at the Bounce Back Concert, it was rainy and muddy but the guitar was awesome even with a few sparks from the wet mixing with the electricals oops.  He was another visitor who came twice and he actually remembered meeting the kids!

With his idol...

Meeting Phil Emmanuel – he signed the guitar.

Pam_and_Joe _cyclone stories

Pam and Joe Sharing their Story of Cyclone Yasi.

I enjoyed learning video skills with people who trusted and were patient with me. Pam and Joe’s daughter loved the video documentary about them- always good to know extended family like stories on their own family.  Pam has been a great friend, practical and regularly ringing or visiting.  I loved taking some portraits of Pam and Joe out on the farm.

Sal and Kim, always busy and involved in community, charted and continue to chart their recovery journey on facebook.  They allowed me to share snippets for ABC Open.
Sal and Kim

Sal and Kim at Mission Arts Opening providing support and Sal’s vocals.


My son with his awesome tennis coach. 

Tennis has been a regular thing with our son going twice a week all year and it’s good to hear that people did not drop off attendance after Yasi but just loved the social and fitness aspects of their tennis! Thanks to everyone at Baseline Tennis.

SES volunteers helping in our area and showing compassion and good humour. 

We are pictured here with some SES workers who came all the way from Weipa to help out.  They were kind enough to let us take this picture, well actually one of them took the pic.  I remember it was a time when we were still wondering about where we were going to live!

Cardwell Lions - supporting the launch of Cyclone Yasi our stories.
Cardwell Volunteers at Launch of Cyclone Yasi our Stories


Jeff McMullen a former 60 minutes journalist with my son

We met so many amazing people this year, including Jeff McMullen a former 60 minutes journalist, who mingled with the crowd at  the Bounce Back Yasi Concert as well as Damien Martyn, retired Australian cricketer and Haley Warner, a former Australian Idol finalist.



We met quite a few singers, including Leah Flannagan, Peter Farnan, Rebecca Barnard and Robert Forster –  who came with Song trails from the Queensland Music Festival. Leah pictured below has such a beautiful voice and did justice to our group composed song.

Leah plays her song

Leah Flannagan playing a song for us.

Jo- one of our hosts after Yasi

One of our many Angels – Jo

This beautiful soul  (pictured above) Jo took our family in when we were searching for somewhere to live.  She and her husband Neil made us so welcome we will never ever forget her family’s help.  I am so happy every time I run into her and we’re good friends with her son – Dan who also comes and plays guitar with the boys every now and then when he’s back from uni.

thank goodness another ute angel

With another of our many helpers and friends

I took a lot of photographs of helpers when I was up for it.  Occassionally stress made me forget but I did try to document all our wonderful helpers.  The photograph above is with Lydia one of my writing group buddies and a keen photographer.  I’ll never forget our early sunrise photography expedition.  We must have been crazy!  For a short time I lived around the corner from her in the aftermath of the cyclone and we were able to have a few catch ups. Some thanks are in order to many of the teachers from Tully State High and also to Richard Kelly, and the Dores who spent a lot of time helping us on house moves.

My daughter seeing her skype friend

This is my daughter with one of her dearest friends.

They got a chance to catch up in person in September.  They were in touch on skype during the cyclone and her friend offered her home if we were homeless afterwards.  She is such a sweetie and rang my daughter on her own birthday so she could share her special day with my daughter.  The girls are still in touch a lot on skype.

Carolyn Bofinger, has been an inspiring and encouraging person.  I have been blessed to get to know her this year, and thank her for putting ABC Open in touch with my family and for all she did for Lower Tully Community before she left.  She didn’t let go of making new friendships even as she was leaving and I was surprised but honoured to be invited to her farewell.


Carolyn Bofinger – with the daybed rescued and repaired by her friends

Carolyn was involved with helping out with Operation Angel but didn’t get to be there when founder of that organisation Jacqueline Pascarl was in town, so I took lots of pictures and documented that event. She was sorely missed.


Jacqueline Pascarl chatting with locals from Lower Tully – honoured to meet her and hear her inspiring speech.

Robert Rose - visiting with Back on Track

Robert Rose, a basketballer of renown came with the Back on Track program of Australian Health Rotary.

 He cheered up a lot of kids by teaching them basket ball.  He was later to say with others who were travelling with him, that he got more out of the trips than the kids probably as he so enjoyed the joy on their faces and will never forget the visit.

Graeme Connors, what an inspiring song writer.   He has songs about cyclones amongst other things in country life.  He sang at Bounce Back and also in the Back on Track program.

Graeme Connors - visiting with Back on Track

It was a time to say goodbye to Feluga State School – here is most of the school with Robert Rose and Graeme Connors after that fabulous visit.  The staff have been so great to the kids and they will miss them.  Especially Mr Starkey their classroom teacher and principal and teacher aide Marcia Reichardt.

Visit Australian Rotary Health


My sister in laws

My wonderful sister in laws have been so kind, and it was great to see them at a big family function this year.


This is just one of many photographs of visiting Bahai Friends.  

Here is another- one of our friends  friends was absolutely awestruck by the nature of our surroundings you can see it in his face, he just couldn’t look at the camera:


Lots of people offered to have us come stay with them, but it was lovely to have someone come and see us as we weren’t up to much travel at that point needing to still get on with sorting things out (which we are still doing) before having a more relaxed break.   I have to thank Gabriels, Mudds,Tahereh and Adib, the Derakshans and probably several others.

DSC_0481 (3)

Lisa Curry with some happy kids

The kids loved listening to and meeting Lisa Curry, fabulous Australian Swimmer and former Olympian.  She gave them a book on fitness and gave a very funny and inspiring talk on being healthy.   She encouraged them to surround themselves with positive people!  I follow her on facebook now.

There are lots of writers and artists in our lives – we see them at launches, workshops and stay in touch via email and phone to mentor each other.  Here are just a few pictures of them.  I could easily do a whole post on them.

writers on the storm

Writers on the Storm – Workshop Mission Beach (still in touch with these fabulous ladies.)

those published in the anthology.... or who helped!

Launch of Under one Sky – Mission Beach (yahee our anthologies were not destroyed by Yasi!)

Licuala WINQ Writers featured in Cyclone Yasi, Our Stories.
With some of the Licuala Writers – at the Launch of Cyclone Yasi, Our Stories – Cardwell

The team from ABC Open have been in touch with us a lot, and given me a brilliant focus for the year – on storytelling recovery.  I have to thank all the producers and friends and readers who’ve regularly commented on the blogs or facebook or sent personal messages, Paulien, Noel, Pam, Sally K., Vi,  Kate, Tammy,  Carolyn,  Jo, Karen, Susanne,  Book Creator’s Circle members, and from ABC’s Sonja, Brad, Cath, Scott, Leandro and Michael.  I don’t have photographs of a lot of you obviously as we are touch in virtual space.

Meeting with Mick Bromage in Townsville

timer shot with fill flashMeeting Leandro for first time.


Emma is the shop owner at Murray Upper

Emma puts on a lovely Christmas every year for locals.  This year despite Yasi, it was no different.  It was an excellent opportunity to meet many locals but it would not have been possible without people like her who put the time and effort in.  I have to thank Murray Upper for being so welcoming! What a community!

Santa at Murray Upper1postcard3

The following photograph was of moment of joy down at one of the local creeks and it was so lovely to see the kids really smile!  They are looking forward to doing that a lot more in 2012. 

Happy New Year Murray Upper, Happy New Year everyone!

 My favourite pic of the kids from 2011.

(c) June Perkins, words and images all rights reserved.