I have recently travelled North to Alpha with my son. The trip inspired me to write this post:
The grey ribbon road weaves and curls through flat, drab brown terrain, then rises up steeply towards a crest that supports a big Aussie sky. It is not such a big blue Aussie sky today, festooned as it is with bulky grey clouds…dirty grey clouds.
I want the landscape to be different this trip…not so stubbornly harsh and unforgiving, but the land is flat and dry…unfriendly…long fringed with bleached dry weeds. Dotted with mean little bushes tamed by the relentless throbbing heat.
The land has obviously been cleared in days gone by, to accommodate the cattle that apparently graze on these pastures. But there is not a cow in sight. Perhaps they have found shelter from the heat somewhere on the huge cattle property that encompasses our narrow road. The property is over twenty-two thousand acres strong.
But these can’t be pastures can they? I once saw pastures on a train trip to the country outside of London. Lush emerald green velvet were the ‘real’ pastures there. Patchwork pastures edged with gentle soft bushy trees lush enough to inspire fairy stories. Every now and then a magical ancient castle would pop up unexpectedly atop that divine viridian velvet quilt, like a castle from a page in a ‘Pop up’ book of the sort that I loved as a young child.
Cows could be seen contentedly grazing in those perfect pastures, waiting to be painted by the likes of Thomas Sidney Cooper.
But I am not from the ‘Motherland’ as we once called it. I want to love my sunburnt country despite everything.
From my passenger’s window I note that the clouds are travelling fast beside me…with me in fact… as if we are companions on a quest. But on reaching the crest, well ahead of me, they are absorbed into the now thin, drab line of the landscape. It’s then I notice a dark purple haze of smoke in the distance.
Reaching up from the faded dun earth on either side of the narrow road are the black skeletal remains of older trees. Thin gnarled branches stripped of their leaves plead in frozen dance. Every now and then, a small group of bottle trees appears, strangely fecund in this barren place.
Silhouettes of small trees emerge peaking over the oncoming crest. They wave and beckon like sirens luring us onwards. Perhaps Alpha will be on the other side of that crest?…my son and I have been on the road for eight hours…and I have endured over four hours of Hip Hop music…a true sign of a mother’s love! cx