Holiday From Yasi Land

Even the most stoic people sometimes need a break from a trying situation, like recovering from a cyclone, and watching the heartbreak and courage as the community makes ongoing repairs and the rainforests grow back.

We are about to have a HOLIDAY! Yes, a total break from all things cyclone recovery related.

We are heading for Melbourne where relatives assure us the weather is warming up. The physical reminders that repairs are under way – like scaffolds, tarps and half disintegrating houses will be out of sight but not fully out of mind.

Soon we will leave the house I renamed Hotel B to give a positive spin on our upcoming move. I feel that having a break from our house before the move will renew our strength.

Hotel B has been a temporary stopover in place with a wondrous tropical garden, a pool, and a friendly leafy street, although our new street, like many others, has houses under repair. We have donated some plants to replace the palms it lost.

Our story is not uncommon in the Cassowary Coast. Many people move from temporary accommodation back to their homes when work is complete enough for them to reside there, or on to more temporary housing as their houses are still not livable.

Some people have already moved three times since Cyclone Yasi, and several have left Yasi land temporarily or forever.  Some still live in garages, under tarped rooves, or on porches awaiting rebuilds.

One tricky thing about moving is packing. We are in the process of collecting boxes, quotes and sorting stuff still not completely sorted after the cyclone. I wish we had done more sorting when we first shifted to Hotel B, but it was daunting and we did not get around to it. We didn’t realise how soon we would be moving again.

My kids have decided they LOVE ebooks now, after all the paper books we salvaged and moved from our Feluga home.

I know others who have had holidays from Yasi land – usually as a treat from friends – they have gone to Japan, on cruises or just for weekend getaways within Queensland. These holidays represent a time to recharge, renew and put everything into perspective. Some local students are going, or have been on, interstate trips and rather than thinking about cyclone’s they are overjoyed to have seen snow for the first time.

For now my mind is thinking about a family reunion where we will see people not seen for years and make reconnections to a world where people are not thinking about their cyclone related issues.

We will go to the Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs and think about ancient history. We will celebrate my husband’s parents fifty years of marriage and my niece’s engagement and will be surrounded by the love of our family.

Are you going on a holiday to recharge soon?

I hope you get an opportunity for a holiday as everyone from a disaster related area needs a break!  Then we can only come back stronger! Thanks to anyone who has given this opportunity to people from our area, you are legends!

 

First published ABC Open, September 2012.

 

Comments on the ABC Open Blog

4 Comments

  • kate campbell-lloyd

    June and her family were my barometer post Yasi: my situation wasn’t like theirs. I had no children to comfort from the storm. I fully admired the spirit that this little family drew on. We did have to re-build a largish part of our home.This took a consistent dedication manually from my husband with memories of work men rebuilding here after cyclone Larry. We too had a holiday on Stradbroke recently but it was a working holiday at the invitation of the Quandamooka sharing & celebrating culture week prior to the Island Vibe Festival. We camped on the eastern beach with whales flashing their tails before us and the reeds in the swamp became our weaving basket therapy. It did us the world of good!

  • June

    Great to hear from you Miranda, I love your videos! We are indeed having a great holiday, I loved taking pics of the tall buildings, feel like I am in photography heaven to have new things to observe, and catching up with family has been brilliant, entertaining, moving and uplifting for the whole family.

  • Miranda Grant

    June, so great to hear you’re getting a bit of a break. And meeting up with family also, that’s wonderful. I’m excited also because I am heading to Bathurst in NSW this coming weekend for my brother’s birthday. I’ve been working a great deal, editing a lot of different videos for the Aftermath project and I’m excited to get a break away from the computer screen. I agree, I think that when I get back from the holiday I’ll feel re-energised. Enjoy your break, you deserve it!

  • Sonya

    Have a wonderful holiday June!

     

    Please note all the ABC Open posts I have archived here that are written by me or have relevance to my family may well have broken links when that site goes down on the 30th of June 2019

Snakes Alive in Murray Upper

One fat naughty snake, two cute quails, a snake catcher, a disheveled mother and her son, and some very curious school kids, just another day in Murray Upper.

It was the day after Australia Day and first thing I heard was my youngest son calling, ‘Mum and Dad – I think there’s a snake in the bird cage.’ Not something you want to wake up to when you have two cute quails who have survived so much.

Life can throw you curve balls, or should I say curvy, sneaky (and now very fat) snakes.

So the veranda was checked by one of two startled half-awake parents – that would be hubby, and there was the snake stuck in the cage – due to a large bulge caused by munching up our dear feathered ones. He couldn’t squeeze back out.

We thought about what to do next – and after some discussion and my hubby making a quick trip to the Murray Upper shop which is often a good starting reference point for life in the area (but which offered the story of a guy who dealt with one down the road a few days ago who might be helpful who we didn’t feel we could bother) I called Sally- whose husband is an experienced snake catcher and author of Diary of  a Snake Whisperer, ‘Sorry he’s away,’ she said but she gave me some handy tips she knew from living with Adrian and her own experience with snakes. First she asked me some questions like –  ‘Does it have a diamond head or flat head?’ ‘Did it climb?’ ‘Is the cage flat on the ground or high up?’ – the snake’s diamond head – my husband confirmed.

‘It appears to have slithered up the stairs – and our screen door is broken it must have come through there.’

She told me to look up snake handlers in the emergency section in the phone book and that’s how I found out about Les from Cardwell.

We rang and my husband gave a pretty good description of the snake. I wasn’t keen to go check it even through the glass closed door on the veranda. I did know it was red- brown and was thankful it was still. I trod lightly to the door as if sneaking up on Mr Wolf, to take a photograph until hubby offered to take a few for me. The snake was well and truly stuck in the cage but I still felt a bit nervous about the whole occurrence.

Everyone was then off to work and school except for me and youngest (who didn’t have to be there yet). We didn’t have to wait long before ‘Snake Man’ arrived with his bag, pole and skills and chirpy manner in hand – ‘yes that’s a Brown Tree Snake – doll eye or Night Tiger won’t kill you but can give you a nasty nip.’

The ever intrepid blogger I am, I felt so mcuh more confident with a snake handler around that I began to document the capturing of the snake. Les was swift with capture –and reassuring – so soon my son and I were down stairs with him measuring the snake, and he asked if we thought it might be good to take the snake for show and tell next door and he could run an education session for the kids at the school. The snake, by the way, was 1.7 metres in length.

My youngest son thought the show and tell sounded good and couldn’t help being fascinated by observing the snake and its bulging stomach. It helped me to know an experienced person had the animal’s mouth firmly shut. I mentioned my Papua New Guinea Mum’s aversion to snakes which have wiped out a lot of her family.

As the kids arrived at school some with parents, and others by bus, they were met with the sight of the confident smiling Les who is not a tall man but has a big smile – with his snake man cap, and the snake, one slightly dishevelled mother with camera in hand, and one bemused child with a mixture of curious and sad feelings, having just lost his two pet quails.

Everyone was quick to share their feelings about snakes, one child declaring ‘I love them’- advocate position – another dead set against declaring – ‘my Dad wanted to kill one for going near our pets,’ ‘my mum hates them,’ and then there were the fence sitters –‘if they leave me alone, I’ll leave them alone.’ Now you should know it’s an offence to kill a snake under the Nature Conservation Act 1992. You have to try and relocate them as they are part of the ecosystem and this is where experienced snake catchers, often with a love but also confidence in snake identification, come in handy.

With the permission of the Principal, Ms Gillinder, we were then off to the resource room with kids and teachers. She commented that she was just thinking of doing snake and first aid education so it was kind of timely.

We learnt:

Night Tiger/Brown Tree Snake of Dolls eye – was the snake from our house,

Brown Tree Snakes are now pests in Guam after being introduced there,

Cages need to have tight cross meshing. Snakes can squeeze into the most amazing thin horizontal spaces,

We got some first aid tips for snakes and learnt non venomous bites -you can treat with bethadine but should go to the hospital if you notice signs of infection and closely monitor bites.

RIP Lawksette and Ridvan – dearly beloved quails, members of the Perkins family – thanks to the caring Murray River Upper School, for taking advantage of this rather unusual and sad opportunity and thanks to all my friends on the discussion of snakes and empathising.

Seems everyone has a snake story – and often a reason not to want to keep pet birds.

Do you have a snake story or real knowledge about them, why not share it?

First Published ABC Open, 30 Jan 2012. 

Backyard Dreaming

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Backyard waits.

The lawn’s mowed to resemble the perfect cricket green of our imagination.

Bats out.

Reality.  We gather stumps, make shift – they might be a bin, or plastic wickets, or even more up market free standing metal ones.

Next each family member is called, usually loudly and persuasively by youngest, whose life calling is in this ritual.

It’s late afternoon, he knows better than to try in the midst of Queensland heat.

Hats on, sunscreen even for the late hour, and out we go.

‘Who’ll bat first?’

Not their Dad, he’ll slog it too much and make us run all over, although he also bats deliberate catches when he’s had enough allotted time at the crease and needs to quench his thirst.

Eldest loves to bowl.  He’s even filmed his brother and his own bowling actions so both can improve.  He will bowl fast and hard, because he’s training youngest.  No easy balls from him.

I picture the Waugh brothers putting each other through their paces.

It can be serious stuff this backyard cricket.

Fielders into position, youngest into bat.  Eldest bowls.  No mercy, but youngest is gaining talent day by day, and he can bat when the going is tough, later he will have a great day batting at the super eights in primary.  ‘Thanks big bro,’ he will say.

Mum (that’s me) positioned with camera for a capture of this classic ritual but ready to set it down for a catch, maybe.

Then it’s Dad batting against bowling eldest son, and there’s a true battle on.  He’s determined to have his Dad out.

‘Give it your best son!’

It’s on for young and old.

Youngest children are spectators now and I am sole fielder.

Hubby slogs it, grins – and eldest paces back, Lillee like, to his run up.  The ritual is repeated.  Each child has a bowl to him, but it’s a field day.  One day they’ll have him out!

Daughter varies, sometimes she’s in for the game and other times she’s doing something more interesting in the garden, like filling a bucket with water, what’s she up to, the mind boggles.

Now she’s called to attention, ‘grab that ball.’

Little Athletics was short lived for her; she just liked playing in the long jump/ sand/ pit too much.

There’s variations on this ritual – now we head of to the beach, and the scene is played out again, but this time there’s soft sand, ocean and people walking their dogs, who sometimes like to field.

At times there’s additional family members on visits, after long absences from grandchildren’s lives.

Again I am poised with camera, until called to the crease, to enjoy slogging the ball, and having my kids dart, crab like, everywhere on the sand.

Poppy’s into it, enjoying building the drama.  He keeps spare tennis balls in his shirt pocket, for when others end up out too far in the ocean.

Daughter is not left out; she takes to the crease, and does her best. Poppy’s a gentle bowler.  Now she’s also keen to bowl.  She’s working to perfect her technique.

Now she’s attempting fielding, but not for long, soon the bucket is being filled with goodies to make into art when she arrives home.

Dreaming.

For a moment we play heroes like Watson,  Ponting, O’Donnell, Lillee and Marsh.  We are beyond the backyard, beyond cricket hero boundary times– and on perfect cricket greens.

‘Howzat’

You can read more of June’s Stories at her blog Pearlz Dreaming. 

 

First published ABC Open, 500 Words, Family Rituals, November 2012.

Operation Bath Time for the Guinea Pig Crew

Family life is made up of small rituals that over time become richly significant.  A close family friend of ours, Nance, used to say ‘all the little things add up, especially small acts of kindness and togetherness.’

One of the small rituals of our family’s life is bath time for our champion guinea pig crew; champion because they survived Cyclone Yasi as calm as could be. Animals amaze me with their resilience.

Before bath time with SootCalicoChocolate and Misty the children make them a warm, comfy and portable home with a plastic tub generously equipped with pet towels.

They lay out more pet towels for afterwards, ready to dry and warm them.

Their cage is normally cleaned by the children not involved in the bathing, so the guinea pigs can return there when the whole operation is finished: newly washed, lovely to smell, and glossy.  The children rotate this less enjoyable task because it can get mighty stinky in the cage.

The children have made bath time a precision operation, littered with a huge number of comforting cuddles, as not all the guinea pigs like water.  Misty needs the least amount of cuddles because he loves bath time. He still receives plenty!

There are three main stages to the bathing phase: stage one, place the crew in a box with carrots, their favourite food.  There they wait to be washed.

Stage two, a patient child gives each one a dip in the low run bath (most often my daughter or our eldest son).

Stage three, one by one they go into the warming area to wait for, or join, their other guinea pig chums.

Once all the guinea pigs are together the children swaddle them for a while in towels to warm them, and then take the time to cuddle and chat with each one.  There’s lots of giggles when the guinea pigs hide in the towels and play peek-a-boo.

Then, for the humans who must follow the guinea pigs to use it, there’s a thorough clean of the bath.

But Soot, Calico, Chocolate and Misty won’t make it back to their cage for a while, as now they’re so clean they’re more enjoyable to play with.

One of my favourite memories from when we first had the guinea pigs is of the children placing soft toys all around them. They discovered that their guinea pigs loved snuggling into teddy bears.  Chocolate especially loved to run around in a circle if a ring of toys was put around him and ‘popcorn,’ that is do a little guinea pig jig.

They are not quite as playful as that now, but they are just as cute and interesting to observe.

It’s hard to imagine family life without our guinea pig crew: Soot, Calico, Chocolate and Misty.

You can find more of June’s Stories  (including ones about the pets) at  Pearlz Dreaming

From 500 Words ABC Open, first published, 18th December 2012

Comments on the ABC Open blog,

 

  • June

    Thanks Cherina, yes I’ve heard lots of guinea pig stories, somehow we managed to have all boys. Sadly since this photograph two of the guinea pigs have passed away.

  • Cherin Gray

    What a great little story, I laughed all the way through We had two guinea pigs as children but when they multiplied up to 36 my mother called a ceasefire since there were allready 10 hungry human mouths to feed But we adored them and they taught us important lessons about love and tenderness as pets often do

 

Ballad of the Boots

500 Words contributor June Perkins outlines some ways to contribute poetry to 500 Words and reflects on the boundary between poetry and prose.

I enjoy contributing prose stories to 500 words but my first writing love, from the age of seven, was poetry.

However, it is possible for poetry and life writing to combine. William Wordworth’s Preludes is just one of many poetic examples of autobiography.

There’s also prose that is intensely poetic, such as the letters of Emily Dickinson, a born poet even in her letters.  The boundaries between poetry and prose are by no means always clear.

There are many creative ways to approach autobiographical or biographical poems, such as portrait poems.

Yet, to create something for 500 words I didn’t want to go down a hugely philosophical path or appear to be focused on my own poetic portrait. I wanted to address the theme of 500 words and have a bit of fun at the same time.

For family rituals I contributed this poem, about my relationship with my son, and his pair of boots. I gave it an introduction to explain the context of the poem and relate it clearly to the theme for the month.

You can read the whole post by going to BALLAD OF THE BOOTS.

Ballad of the Boots

Son to Mum

My boots are made for sleeping
I’ll never take them off again.
My feet are made for keeping
Those leathery brown boots.

My heart is made for boots
They are the world to me
& if you take them off me Mum
I’ll scream the whole house down.

My boots they sing me songs
As the crackle in the night
My heart is made for weeping
For my hand-me-down brown boots.

Mum to Son

Son, I wish you’d take off those boots
For they are lethal weapons as you sleep.
I know you love them deeply, truly, madly
But they do not make your parents
Meet the morning, mannered mild.

If you stayed asleep on your own bed
I’d have no problems with your obsession,
But as you creep up into ours
I’d rather your boots were in your dreams
& not your midnight possession

Boots to Son

When you grow up you won’t remember
the love that we once shared.

But that’s okay I won’t be lonely because
I always travel in pairs.

I just have one small request before I go
Please polish me & check my eyelets
Then sing me a song to imprint into my sole.

Boots to Mum

One day he’ll be fully grown
and new shoes he’ll own

Boots will be replaced by runners
new challenges be found

Remember you can write a poem
To reach out to him

Say the things you need to say
As Mum to grown up son.

If you feel inspired and are more a poet than prose writer why not head over and contribute your poems to 500 words. Take a look at some of  the work of our other contributing poets listed in further links. Remember your contribution has to be at least 150 words and maximum 500 words.

But You Didn’t

It’s our first family trip to the circus, and we’re giddy with excitement.  I haven’t been to any circus since I was in primary school.

This circus is all people doing the tricks.

The people are tall and short, thin and graceful and most of all vibrantly colourful.  They are welcoming and entertaining in the way they walk and talk.

Our daughter is beside herself.  She’s in her element; after all she goes to the supermarket wearing scuba diving gear and frills.

There’s no chance of escaping lions, monkeys or elephants. We prefer to see those in documentaries, firmly in their natural habitat, or in the zoo.  In the wild would be even better, but zoos do so much for conservation and where else could you safely see some amazing creatures of the world for real.

No, in this circus the only people who might be hurt are people doing tricks, but they’ve practiced heaps of times so you don’t expect that.  Perhaps we might be a little scared that they might be hurt, but that’s the thrill of circus.

We make our way in and there’s a display to walk through with a bit of the history of circus.  Our eldest son is interested and keen on the history and the colour.

Our youngest appears to be thrilled and as ready as his siblings for the circus action.

‘Roll up, roll up,’ now we are ushered to the big tent.

I’m a proud parent thinking, ‘My three children are in for a treat, an unforgettable experience.  They’ll know why everyone wants to run away with the circus.’

I am thinking, ‘how lucky are we to be given free tickets by our friend whose husband puts up big top tents all around Australia.’

We are seated looking on a ramp and hoops of fire.  Sound of motorbikes.   I think riders are about to go through the hoops. Excitement, anticipation, but this is what we tell our youngest happened:

You should’ve had eyes wide as platters
so keyed up for our first trip to the circus
fire and hoops
magic and loops
. . .but you didn’t

You should’ve been laughing
seeing clowns in kangaroo suits
acrobatically jumping on planks
. . .but you didn’t

You should’ve clapped
And sighed with relief
when the girl on wire
made it seem easy peasy
to balance and dance
. . .but you didn’t

At the start
when motorbike riders came through a hoop of fire
you could’ve been transported
to a world of daring
called circus
. . .but you shut your eyes tight with fright and
went soundly to sleep

. . .for the rest of the show

For more stories by June head over to her blog Pearlz Dreaming

Published 25 Feb 2013, ABC Open, A Scary Moment.

Returning North

So many times my hubby and I were new and then gone.

We always seemed to be just settling in when it was suddenly time to go again.

This follow, or be blown, by the wind life style, which came about initially through being students and looking for work, courses and scholarships, had its down side.

We missed the people, especially extended family, left behind and often wished they could come in our suitcases.

The upside was that we always found something tantalising in the new, like when we first moved to North Queensland, to live in Townsville; that time over twenty years ago comes back to me in a huge memory wave – the long, long drive from New South Wales, the intense heat, the finding a hotel on the first night and the thankfulness for air conditioning. It was so different from my Tasmanian childhood upbringing.

I can still hear fruit bats in the trees, taste mango, and remember swimming for the first time in ocean that was like a warm bath. I remember days and days without rain. Townsville is dry tropics.

New places are vivid for the writer who thrives on a changing environment, so all these new experiences came into my life and my writing and enriched them.

During that time someone said to us, ‘once you’ve been North, you will never really leave.’ We didn’t know what they meant until we did leave when our eldest son was just one, only to return seven years later, as if by some invisible magnetic pull, but also disenchanted with the downside of life in cities.

It was a drive, further than before, past Townsville, past the cane, and heading into Tully, a town we had never heard of before – a town with a big gumboot.  Now we were in the wet tropics.

We had a tiny plastic turtle whose head wobbled up and down perched in the car, it was just one of many things to amuse our now three children in the back of the car. We named it Tully Turtle.

Looking at the photographs of when we first arrived here I see how small my children were back then, all three were under ten. Two are now teenagers, and one is heading to eleven.

We have lived the longest of anywhere our entire married life, eight years in the Cassowary Coast. Previous to that our average was about three years.

Now we know what it is to move beyond being new to being settled.

The lessons are that you learn to overlook the short comings of the area, like distance from health facilities, no public transport system, and people initially being suspicious of you and waiting to see if you will actually stay before even wanting to be your friend.

We’ve learnt what it like to live in the wet season, be flooded in, and long for days without rain.

We’ve learnt the joys and pressures of tiny communities and small schools.

We’ve learnt that there is something special your children attending school with mates they were at in kindy or year one with.

We’ve learnt what a community does to pull together in tough times like after Cyclone Yasi.  They become family.

When my friend Paulien visited from Holland – she took pleasure in all that was new – and kept telling my youngest two children how special their home was.

Surrounded by it all the time they take the Licuala palms, the cassowaries, the beach – all of it for granted, all of it home, none of it new now. Her wonder, made them curious about her home and why she should be so amazed – it made them want to travel.

They don’t remember what it’s like to be new to a whole area and how long it takes to make close friends. They are just at the beginning of life and they long for adventure.  They long for the tantalizing things that travel will bring.

 

For more stories of living in the north visit June’s Blog  Pearlz Dreaming.

Published 27 Mar 2013, ABC Open 500 Words, New in Town

 

Comments from ABC Open Blog

  • Lyn Oxley

    June, I’ve made a Video Postcard for you: goes for 1 minute: https://open.abc.net.au/projects/video-postcards-30rs6yp/contributions/bathurst-historical-buildings-53wn3np It goes for about a minute.

  • June

    Thanks Moni, yes, busy writing lots! All the best to you too.

  • Moni88

    Fabulous series June, wishing you well for all future writings!

  • June

    Thanks Matilda and Vera for your comments and enjoyed reading both your contributions to this project.

  • Matilda Elliot

    What poignant memories and descriptions – I got goose bumps reading your story June. Your words encapsulate the magic of the north so beautifully – so much so, it’s making me ‘home-sick’ all the way over here in Tennant Creek!! I’ll be back in November, just like you were drawn back. Thanks for sharing these special sentiments.

  • Vera Rayson

    I know exactly what you have been through June. The longest we stayed anywhere was 5 to 6 years. So thou now it has been 8 Years already. Friends are hard to come by and one should treasure them always. Loved reading your story and thanks for sharing your journey.

  • June

    Thanks hiMe glad to know you felt those themes coming through in the piece. There is merit in both travel and stillness, change and continuity. In every place we live and move we leave pieces of ourselves and take fragments on with us to be incorporated into the tapestry of our identity.

  • hiMe

    I read and I felt your acceptance, resilience, contentment of a travelling life with family of young children. It is such a precious photo to share with your readers, June!

 

Happy Birthday Youngest

A very happy birthday to youngest son, who is enjoying an afternoon doing what he loves most, playing cricket for his club. Energetic, enthusiastic, movie buff, mathematics wizz, writing with heart and imagination – with a growing crew of close mates. Now your parents are officially parents to three teenagers. What a delightful young man you are and what beautiful friends you are making. Like your older brother, born during Ayyam-i- ha Love Mum

Dad tells me there are 343 grade 7s in the school this year, I take a moment to process this and realise there are more people in the school I go to than the town that I used to live in. I realise how much things have changed in an instant. I begin to think of Tully.

Such a humble micro settlement. The twin towers of Tully was a sugar mill. My nose in distress, sniffing in the terrible air of the mill in cane season. An endless sea of green mountainous landscape. The unstoppable golf ball sized aqua drops have a limitless quantity. They constantly fall. The hill that I called home, in a mountain off in the distance, as steep as the Angel Falls. A green house, light green bricks. A simple little home.

All the kids shared a room. A beautiful neighbourhood, so much forest. The street lit up with Christmas. A display for all eyes to see. A tiny street in a mini figure town, with a display of glowing, blinding, luminous light.

The snakes slither through schools and shops, the birds chirp on the roof tops, the sun barely peeps through the always watching clouds, azure is a discolouration of the sky.

Grey is misery, but the beauty of the luscious green landscape makes me ignore it. The village is a family, everyone knows each other, if one of this tight group of people had a problem with another, I can guarantee they’ll see that person again, they’ll have to deal with it. It also means, a loaf of bread comes with a conversation, dad buys the groceries and shopkeepers talk, for hours and hours. They talk like they are family, because the town is a large family. I grow up with school kids like siblings, I always see them. Only one major place of shopping, it is the heart of the town, lives and breathes.

Dad knows most of the shopkeepers, they’re all high school aged, he educates at the centre of socialising and learning. My brother can’t go past the Guitar shop without walking in, Butler Street is the café relax time for off work dwellers during the day. The traffic report at peak hour will have two traffics, one turning towards the library, and the other towards the Tennis court.

Everyone is a sports fan of some sort or the mother of a sports fan. Cricket here, rugby there and our family is an odd AFL fan. I was considered a rather strange kid, liked AFL, cricket, maths, reading and even cards. No-one I knew liked even 2 of these things.

Storm season is always frightening, a system circling around the tiny houses, shredding them bit by bit, the wind slapped against the roof tops, lightning shattered the sky and clouds opened and shed a thousand tears against the homes of many beings. Lightning, wind, rain, things were so simple.

Cinemas were hard to find, the closest one was a million miles away, so I adopted the small screen. But going to the movies was like hearing you were pregnant. No matter how bad the movie was, I’d love the experience. It never ceased to amaze.

Now things are different, I’m nearly a teen, I live in a city of a million souls and I have handled the change much better than I expected. It was a daunting experience, getting told I was going to a school bigger than the town I used to live in. I didn’t know how I’d handle it.

Now I realise I can cope with change, my family pet bird coped with it, my family coped with it and helped me adapt to the change. And it all ended well. Friends from my new school welcomed me as their own, I now live in Brisbane.

I now know I can adapt to change, and I also know I can teach and help my children through change and the process of growing up. I think of old homes, schools and friends a lot, but the colossal town I live in, I have now grown to know it as home.

Youngest son Perkins

Scrapbooking facebook greetings to my son on his nineteenth

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So many beautiful comments for Ben on his birthday that I thought I would save them here for Ben to look at and back at with the rest of the family:

Alan Perkins – Happy Birthday Ben, good luck on your Uni journey.

June Perkins Every year I write a letter to my children – I have a notebook full of them. this year is a special one. The one year we are parents to three teenagers.

Lynette Harris Happy Birthday, Ben..

Phebe Kanaratnam-Roberts That is lovely, June Perkins! Big love to the Perkins clan on this beautiful day/event. There are far better things than any we leave behind ~ C.S. Lewis. May Ben’s adventures be intellectual, emotional, spiritual, interpersonal and creative. Onward!

June Perkins So beautiful of you Phebe

Renee Hills This is so beautiful June.Very moving!

Maxine Lindsay Marsh Happy Birthday from the Marshs.

Graham Nicholson Happy bday.

Siva Peri Wish you all the best Ben. Sure you will outdo your parents who themselves have excelled in many ways!

Justine Crema Happy Birthday Ben

Bill Wells Fantastic sentiments June, he’s blessed to have such a Mum. And he’s a Pisces too!

Soroor Allen Beautifully said!!! Wishing dear Ben the happiest Birthday, and all the best for the Uni year!

June Perkins Ben thanks everyone for the Birthday wishes.

Paulien Bats Congratulations Ben!!

Hélène Safajou Congratulations to Ben and his parents!

Daryll Bellingham Many Happy Returns Ben.

Paul Gerard My nineteenth was spent in Ninggerum, on the (at that time disputed) border between PNG and Indonesian occupied Papua. All very exciting and stimulating at the time. Small contribution to exchequer in Mum’s account.

Lou Dowling Happy birthday young lad!

Danny Letham That reads like you are both very lucky

Arvid Yaganegi Cometh the hour, cometh the man. He looks as determined as Steve Waugh.

Helen Sonia Perkins Happy birthday Ben!

Te Warihi Hetaraka  Way to go Ben, the world is your oyster, remember that science is the balance of religion, and religion is balance of science, they are brothers in arms my friend. All the best.

Thanks also to these people who left messages on Ben’s wall

Aunty Tahirih, Cousin Nadia, Johana, Cornelia, Edward, Omid, Bubu, Blake and Mitchell and the 60 or so other people who hit like.

Nineteen Years

June Perkins's photo.
Every year I write a letter to my children.  
This is for my son’s nineteenth birthday.
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At three or four in Melbourne University Gardens

Happy Birthday Son – so many places have you traveled.

Elders have said to us that young boy will do something special.

A whole class of children from your first school wrote you beautiful farewell letters.

All these people liked you because you weren’t scared of learning in silence from watching and doing.

And you always like standing up for what’s right even if it means not going with the tide of popular and fickle opinion. But since then it’s been a long journey so many schools, as your parents traveled, worked and studied – NSW, QLD towns city and country, year 12 done through distance education and in all that time very few teachers ever saw your brilliance or encouraged you – except for Mr Mberna, from Zimbabwe who said the same thing as those young elders when you were a small boy

A passion for the guitar has been found, a coach to your little brother, and a mentor to your little sister (study hard sis) a voice like Cash and Dylan combined, years of migraines and never having a large group of friends (but we all remember Jesse from Wollongong a fine young man who always said you will be a leader and was a dear friend)

Now you are entering university – to study science – a strong young man with strong values and a gentleman is what you are to us your parents and now the world will see it too. This is your year, this is your time.

Love, Mum

Dadandeldest
Dad and Ben
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First Year in Townsville
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Visiting the Torres Strait when 3
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With Mum in Feluga 2008
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Beginning of Childcare – whilst Mum Studied.  This is at the end of year concert.  Ben’s best friend was Helen Anu’s daughter. 

(c) June Perkins