Aunty Glad is in the land of blackberries. They hide on the hills around her. My brothers gather them for her. They like to forage and pretend we don’t live on a busy highway. When they give her the blackberries, which they sell to her, she makes them into pie and gives it to us.
Aunty Glad is not my blood line Aunty. She is the grandmother stand in for my mother who misses her mountains, and the pigs she cares for. She is my spirit line Aunty, adopted by my mother, who often thinks of her own distant tiny mother, who is in some ways like the tiny glad.
Aunty Glad is part of a couple with Uncle Bill, and their land is a house at the bottom of steep hill. We are the neigbours with stand in grandchildren they will never have. Their son has just divorced and is childless. He will die young from cancer, not that long after they have.
Before that Aunty Glad is my lesson in caring for the Elderly. She moves away from the land of blackberries, to live with her son. I visit her new house to look after her when her son is away, all by myself. She gives me raisin toast. I clean out her bird cage. When she is sleeping I play by myself, pretending to be Joan of Arc. I go outside for a moment and walk on a thin brick wall.
I wish I had asked Aunty Glad where she was from, where she grew up, if she had lived in the country or the city. I don’t know what other family traces are left. But she is a part of the landscape of my childhood. She is part of the trail blazed by fields of fruit…
(c) June Perkins
My first memories are of people without their landscapes, but as I think more deeply I recall something from the environment. Aunty Glad is forever the lady of the blackberries. Initially I find my Tasmanian memories of landscape vague, but as I focus more deeply I see the beach scapes, park scapes and neighbourhoods. I begin to remember the Cataract Gorge, the Basin, the Ash Forest – and that environment comes alive.