Far North Friends

It was a real treat to catch up with our friend Sally Moroney, an artist from Far North Queensland.

We have now known her about twelve years.

She makes beautiful necklaces and presented Sheridan with one of her creations (as Sheridan had taken a liking to one of mine and wanted one of her own).

We went to see the Margaret Olley, A Generous Life Exhibition on the second day of its opening.

It is interesting to visit an Exhibition with artists.  Both Sheridan my daughter, and Sally, who are both artists were such an inspiration to visit the space with.

Sheridan shared about volunteering for the Brisbane Street Art Festival.

I especially loved the images of Indigenous people with a predominance of the colour orange in them.

I always think of Sally and her hideaway studio tucked away near the rainforest, surrounded by creative friends and mentoring young artists and basket makers.

We would sometimes meet for lunch, especially with friends, like Christine, Pam, Kay and Marcia. I sent greetings to them all via Sally.

Some friends you just always have deep conversations with about, the world, time, people, art and more.  And Sally is a treasure. She spent the day helping us clean our home when we were about to move from Murray Upper to Brisbane.

Some friends stand the test of time, and we look forward to catching up with Sally in person when we can.

Rain – I Write it, Live in it

 

Rain – I write it, live in it, love it and sometimes fear it and want to escape.

Like it or not, it’s an inescapable part of North Queensland life.

Rain can flood, trap, enclose and invite pieces of writing from within.

Rain refreshes, reminds and reflects moods.

I taste the rain and all it touches when I walk through the rainforest.  I see the world in the drops that creep across a licuala leaf and plop onto my nose.

 ‘A little bit of rain’ plead some – knowing that in our area the rainy season can go on and on until you wish you could just take a boat, row out to beyond where there is no rain.

‘It’s not rainy season yet,’ my husband says, yet it whispers, some would say a little too loudly, to us that it is on the way.

Others long for the rain as it brings a green coat to our surroundings and helps the healing of the rain forest.  They know rain is a double edged sleet of weaponry that can both create and destroy.  They know that the builders who repair the houses, and the roads, post Yasi, race the rain.

I call on the metaphor of rain when I am missing bananas, friends, and need a day to spiritually centre.  I long for its damp cooling power that takes away the heat that burns.

Often before the rain it’s sticky beyond belief, making you just want to peel your skin off, if that were possible, but still your bones would feel the humidity.

I call on rain, when the world is dusty, dry and full of drought, but just enough – but you know – not too much or too little.  But rain is not an ingredient in life that I can control.  It is not part of a recipe where all weather mixes to please the people.

I banish rain, when it makes the paddocks a sea, and farmers come out to move cows and horses to higher ground, when it decides a crop will be drowned and swept into nothingness, and never make it to a supermarket shelf.  I wish it to the far ends of earth and wonder why it can’t make its way to a desert where it would be welcome.  Rain doesn’t have logic or a will like that.  I must be a fool to think it so.

I banish rain, when it cuts off the roads, and means I can only facebook or telephone for sociability and wish I had gone to the supermarket and brought a few more supplies.

I banish rain, when it floods to the point where people are perched on the top of their houses, just wishing rain would flow away down the drains or helicopters would arrive to pick them up. This hasn’t happened to us yet, thankfully.

I banish rain, when it’s cut off the section of the road I want to drive down and I know I am not going to make it through the overflowing river, and must find a safe road to somewhere dry and restful until the rain passes its fury away.  This is why we now own a 4WD.

Rain – I observe it, remember it, live in it, and sometimes rejoice in it.  The rain can heal, green, and cause my heart to dance like Ginger and Fred in old black and white movies. I wish I could send the rain down south where the fires are.

When rain has been gone too long, and the world is parched and needs an elixir, and waterfalls are tiny trickles, then rain is welcome.  Rain is my friend.

I know then I am lucky to live in the land of rain.

You can find more of my stories at Pearlz Dreaming

 

First Published ABC Open,15th January 2013
Comments from ABC Open
  • June Perkins

    Thanks Michelle and hiMe for taking the time to leave a comment.

  • Michele Majidi

    Great story, June. And so true about rain and humidity. When you don’t have rain you want it – when you get rain it’s too much (or maybe that’s just me). I’m never ever keen on humidity.

  • hiMe

    Hi June, I share your feelings about rain: I live in it and love it!

  • June Perkins

    Thanks Michael, Lyn and Joanna, for your thoughts. There are going to be bridges built in the Cassowary Coast, so maybe that will help some of us with going over the flooded areas. Locals are always looking for solutions, like raising the roads, but sometimes and they take a while to put into effect, and even then can cause other problems, like just increasing the flooding elsewhere. At present, the most important thing is to know when to go home when flooding is going to cut your road off so that everyone can be safe and sound, or when to stay put at a friends because you can’t get through. We learn to live with the rain and one day perhaps we’ll have road designs etc that can cope with it better.

  • Lyn Grace

    June isn’t it funny how we always seem to scream for rain relief, and yet when it comes we wish we could turn it off? Living in the country meant every day you were watching the weather for a good sign of rain, but left repairing fences and waterways after it left. I look upon rain as some of us do our partners; we cant live without it, and at times we cant live with it! We just get used to it. We just need to be able to turn off that tap when we’ve had enough! I enjoyed your story very much June, and thankyou for all your lovely comments. Much appreciated.

  • Michael Bromage

    I remember drains going through suburbs in Far North QLD, but now there are just houses squished together and more flash flooding. This is a wonderful post, June, especially for those who experience rain as almost one who experiences a sibling.

  • Joanna Grimmer

    I don’t think there is ever the perfect climate – not for more than one season, anyway. But I think I prefer more rain than less: I love the sun, but fear the trend of warmer seasons and rising seas. Yet, ironically, more rain is part of that evolving cycle, too, isn’t it? I look at places like Bangladesh and am grateful for what we have, rain-wise. Poverty and devastation are such cruel neighbours. But I think north Queensland communities and councils can better prepare for the wet season by digging deeper drainage systems within the towns, and storm water collection drains and channels to carry that excess water away. I used to live near Suva, and in our community there were such drains between each house – along the boundaries and, as a result, we were never flooded. We had to be careful to keep the kids away from them, though. The fascination with torrents would draw them like magnets. But after so many ‘floodings’ I’m a little puzzled that such practices have not been adopted here in QLD.

     

    Please note: links to ABC Open will be broken after June 30th 2019.

A Long Way From Misery

An inspiring interview with Jacqui on the recent launch of the memoir she has cowritten with her Dad.

Pearlz Dreaming

Jacqui Halpin, Jack Turner, A Long Way from Misery, Book   Launch-1Jacqui Halpin is an Australian children’s author whose stories have won prizes in writing competitions and been published in anthologies. She attributes her love of storytelling to her father, Jack Turner. ‘Listening to the amazing adventures Dad had growing up stirred my imagination and transported me back to his world,’ Jacqui says. Jacqui has co-written her father’s memoir, A LONG WAY FROM MISERY, which is a rollicking journey through the Australia of yesteryear with a true Aussie larrikin who grew up on a farm called Misery.

 Jacqui is passionate about preserving the social history of Australia for future generations and is currently writing a series of historical junior fiction novels inspired by her father’s adventures growing up.

**

June: Can you give us a short synopsis of the book?

Jacqui: A Long Way from Misery takes you on a rollicking journey through the Australia of yesteryear with Jack Turner, the…

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Walking

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Early sunset autumn

Early autumn and our sun begins setting around five.

We head out for a walk before the evening chill sets in.

My youngest son and daughter walk, then run, then walk.

Youngest is speedy, fluid, fast – he loves to run but not in competitions even when asked to consider the school cross country team.  Instead running is, moving like the wind, being in the moment of freedom.

My daughter sometimes wants to catch up, to attempt to pass the speedster, but he just turns the speed on and then playfully circles back to run and walk with her.

Their Dad and I walk behind, observing the siblings chat and race, and walk, as well as having our own chat.

There are cyclists everywhere on the track, some just ‘ting, ting’ others yell out ‘bike.’

The joggers count their kilometres and listen to their plugged in music.  They stop to use the council provided exercise equipment.

Youth recapture their early childhood on the swings.

People walk with their cute dogs, ready with a smile for those who admire their pooches, enjoying their four footed friends company.

My daughter jokes that it would be fun to handicap her brother’s run by having him ‘run the guinea pigs.’ Yes, our family have new pet guinea pigs, must blog on them soon!

As for me in the second half of our walk I am chasing the late afternoon sunset beams, and walking towards the light with my phone camera.  But I must be mindful of cyclists, must not get too lost in the moment of photographing or it could be ‘splat.’

I ask my three family members to pose, just for a moment, to capture this afternoon family walk.

I take in the moments of clouds, communion and connection.

 

18/5/2016

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Exploring our surrounds, clouds, waterways and looking up at the trees.

Our family are going on regular walks, sometimes all of us, sometimes a few of us.

The purpose of these walks, just a space to think and stretch and ponder.

(c) All Images and Words June Perkins

 

Writing Group – Write Links

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One of the best things about moving to Brisbane has been making new writing buddies in the field of children’s literature.  Some of the great people I have been meeting are Writelinks members.

We meet once a month to do professional development workshops, network and critique each others work.

Recently we celebrated Hans Christian Anderson’s Birthday and celebrated various achievements of the group.  Here are the achievers that were there that day holding their books and certificates.

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This is me with Yvonne Mes, our co-ordinator who does a great job and is backed up by a team. For example Ali organised the birthday celebrations and asked one of the members to make a cake.

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Here are many of the group, although we have heaps of members, many were away this day and some mostly participate in the online group due to not being able to make the meetings.

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Blog Hopping After Yasi

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After Yasi: Finding the Smile Within is going on a virtual book tour, commonly known as blog tour, blog hop or virtual book tour.  A big thank you to all those listed.

Best comments for each blog will be given a PRIZE, either a free copy of the ebook or a choice of a signed print of one of the photographs from the book. Would absolutely love it if you retweet, reblog and share this post – and the blog hop posts, to all your friends.

The After Yasi Blog Tour includes visits to:

Jan 27   (Tuesday) http://open.abc.net.au  ABC Open  (guest blog, June Perkins, storytelling tips)

Jan 27   Karen Tyrrell http://www.karentyrrell.com/

Jan 28 (Wednesday)  Dimity Powell (interview) http://www.dimswritestuff.blogspot.com.au/

Jan 29 (Thursday) Charmaine Clancy (guest blog) http://charmaineclancy.com/

Jan 30 (Friday) Michele D’Acosta https://micheledacosta.wordpress.com

Jan 30 Jedda Bradley  – (interview)https://www.facebook.com/jeddabradleyartist

Jan 31 (Saturday) Carol Campbell  (review) http://writersdream9.wordpress.com

Jan 31 (Saturday) Gail Kavanagh  (review) http://gailkavanagh.com/blog/

Feb 1 (Sunday) Owen Allen (focus Dance) http://owen59.wordpress.com/ http://placestories.com/folks/Oen

Feb 2 (Monday)  Ali Stegert  http://ali-stegert.com/

Feb 3  (Tuesday) Melinda Irvine http://businessonblue.com.au/

Feb 3   Wrap up and thankyou blog from June http://pearlz.wordpress.com

You can find sample pages and more details of the ebook here: http://gumbootspearlz.pressbooks.com/

You are welcome to attend from wherever you are in the world -the online launch -February 3rd.

See the facebook page: The Launch Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/866286073402069/?pnref=story

*This schedule is still subject to  minor changes but I will post any changes closer to lift off.

Barefoot Literacy

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Bare feet Literacy – June Perkins

The Cassowary Coast gave my children the chance to learn literacy in the land with their bare feet.

Whilst my children, especially when we first arrived in the Cassowary Coast, usually wore their shoes to school, most children went barefoot. The warm weather, the sand pits and playground under foot, breathing toes in humid classrooms were just many of the reasons this was the case.

In the Far North when children wear shoes to school any sneakers or other form of shoes tend to do. As for uniforms most children wear part of the school uniform, but maybe not the whole uniform every day. As we were leaving the high school was attempting to become stricter, but mainly students wore what they could afford of the school uniform and hand me downs as much as possible (making any transitions in uniform take some time to work.)

There were students who were quite impoverished who wore well-worn, or ripped clothes to school. Some of the smaller schools would just give them clothes from lost property when it was possible.

We would often leave our shoes at each other’s houses as bare feet adults, shaking off our sandals and not remembering to put them on again. Another challenge with shoes was the destruction the rain makes of them, as they become so soggy in the wet season.  They just never seem to dry.  They also seem to die fast.

However, there were warnings to be careful of leptospirosis, otherwise known as Weil’s disease. This is spread by contact with fresh water, vegetation or wet soil contaminated by the urine of infected animals, like rodents, cattle, pigs, horses and dogs. Typically this is caught if you have cuts on your feet and walk through the wet and there are traces of urine from sick animals in the water. For schools situated right next to cane fields, where the rodents often like to hide, this can be a real problem. Also people working or living on farms need to take some care with this. Although you still usually see the children running in bare feet at every opportunity, in wet season they will take a bit more care.

In many schools in our new home, Brisbane, you have to follow a strict dress code and that is something my children find pedantic. ‘How does what you wear affect your learning, they ask? If you are comfortable don’t you learn more easily?’

‘Why do you have to wear a scarf for winter bought from the school to match the uniform? Why not just any scarf?’

Experiencing the world through bare feet a lot of the time (flip flop footwear, and ‘crocs’ special plastic shoes, when the ground is too hot) makes for a certain kind of personality. Clothing adapted to climate makes sense, but clothing only about uniformity itself doesn’t make sense to my children. Images of what early English people wore to Australia and how this has changed over the last couple of hundred years flit through my vision. How much of this has been to do with climate, but also to do with the changing empowerment of women.

Clothing and shoes as a marker of status is outweighed by a need for personal comfort in the humidity and in a place where most people are walking on soft grass, earth, sand and in the farm fields.

I remember my children laughing when teachers new to the Cassowary Coast, who wanting to make an impression wore ties to school. Those who kept ties on seemed to move on quicker than those who started wearing something cool enough to comfortable teach in, although most Far North schools do have air conditioners (often through money raised by Parents and Citizen’s clubs.)

**

One of the first things they notice when we move to Brisbane is that students wear shoes and a strict uniform to school.

The children’s school in Brisbane doesn’t have an air-conditioner, but it wouldn’t need it most of the year. The library is about to be equipped with one.

My children discover urban literacy requires wearing formal uniforms and understanding trains and buses.   They constantly complain about the discomfort of their uniforms.  My daughter wears a tie and a pleated skirt rather than shorts and collared tee-shirt.  She learns that she cannot have any form of creativity in her uniform attire.  Instead she has to find those outlets after school or in her art.  She takes up art at the high school, which Sally my artist friend, is happy to hear about having taken her for art workshops.

In our early days in Brisbane we learn about go cards and how to zap in and off the buses.  We look up routes on translink and pre-plan our trips.  The trips are expensive though and it works out cheaper to go to many places by car, especially if there are more than two of us.  My daughter travels with friends on the public transport to go to their houses.

We notice the opportunities the children have at school like extensions in course, accelerated academic streams and the early beginning of year eleven subjects.  The children have greater subject choices.

The children have a much bigger choice of who to make friends with at school than they did in Tully.  This does not always make it easier.  So my daughter is overjoyed to hear from friends back in the Cassowary Coast, and they assure her she is greatly missed.

**

My youngest son, who has experiences of being bullied in some of his schools, had an enjoyable final year of primary school at a small school in the Cassowary Coast, where many children remember him from kindergarten.  It is his year of healing and I am thankful his last year of primary is so wonderful.  At the final gathering of the school he attends for the year, we meet historical families who have had generations of their families attend the school.  He wins a prize for creative writing, which is presented by my friend Pam who has a history with the school as a former teacher and current sponsor of the prize.  She had blind judged them and had no idea it was my son’s essay she read.  Pam acts in as a stand in grandparent when my daughter has a invite your grandparents day at the local high school.  Both her grandparents are a long way away, just as Pam’s grandchildren are.  We have come such a long way from our first years in the Cassowary Coast to have bonds like this.

Despite the challenges of growing up country my children appear to have made some lifelong and loyal friends from that area.  We left a beloved pet guinea pig with my daughter’s best friend and later the children skype the friend and the guinea pig.  We text my son’s best friend from state school who is soon to spend holidays in Brisbane.  The younger two had teachers who saw their need for stimulation and grade skipped them one grade through primary.    Soon my daughters’ best friend will be in the city to do university.  The girls keep connecting, and nourishing each other in a long distance friendship.

The children participated in community art exhibitions, environmental programs and went to many a waterfall, creek, beach walk – and excursions out onto people’s farms.   I hope they will value these experiences in the future.

I hope that no matter what the challenges they remember, that nature has breathed into them a connection they will never forget.


(c) June Perkins

(Draft extract from a longer work in progress)

Ecology Quest 1 – Bush turkey holes, and finding a bat wing coral tree

Nature is singing me lots of blog inspiration.  I’m working on a long essay at the moment and some poetry off line.  This is from a series over at my pearlz dreaming space but it fits here as well.

Pearlz Dreaming

redafternoon8share Bat Wing Coral Tree – June Perkins

Yesterday I read the following from David Attenborough

“Where in 1945 it was thought that the way to solve the problem was to create wildlife parks and nature reserves, that is no longer an option. They are not enough now. The whole countryside should be available for wildlife. The suburban garden, roadside verges … all must be used.”

I agree.  We have bush turkeys, ibis, crows, and cockatoos frequent our back yard.  They enrich our lives.

The down side is that we can’t start a vegetable patch outside because of the bush turkeys digging holes everywhere. However  the upside is that they love eating all our scraps and it’s kind of cool they  are protected and have the run of the neighbourhoods. We are going to start a vegetable patch on the veranda.   I’d love to attract more butterflies to the backyard…

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Fruits of Memory

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June Perkins – Fruit Picking

Hand after hand reaches into a pot of strawberries
it’s impossible to resist
and soon they are all gone
but their taste lingers on and on
forever,
and I can’t even remember what else we learnt at that youth weekend
except that community is sharing the fruits
of labour.

Foraging brothers find blackberries, peaches,
banana passionfruit, sometimes I am with them
sometimes I am not following
because they have a way of crossing into
yards we are not supposed to
their hungry stomachs make it
hard to resist.

Returning after many years to my childhood home
I make trips to tourist fruit pick
with my children – who have been growing up
on mangos and paw paws
now for a brief time
they are in a place where raspberries, blackberries
and strawberries like to grow.

(c) June Perkins

Now I am exploring more about landscapes of fruit, and fields…. I was often hungry as a child and sometimes my memories revolve around experiencing food

Hidden Walks

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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 not seen from the ugly highway view.

I loved discovering rusted farm equipment on a street corner or rail tracks for the cane tranes running through the town.

The photograph with this post is of a place behind the highschool in Tully.  My husband worked there and one day on the weekend after he had been into collect stuff from his office we went walking through a banana field, and on a nature walk by the creek.

The field is now gone, post cyclone renovation.  The walk is still there.  The greenery recovers.

Now we are in Brisbane city and its the murals at the railway stations and under walk ways, and trails of art on telegraph poles that peek out at me and say ‘ you must come back and take photographs’.

I still look for the light through the trees in the leafy suburbs.  I still find creeks.

What’s changed is how many urban spaces there are. There are so many I must begin and move inwards to outwards.

There are many  tall buildings, more suburbs- too many to contain in my head just yet, and I have to look closely to have some of them not seem all the same.  Shopping centre, Fast Food, cinemas, highways, Aldis, this is the world of little boxes full of people. Suburbs like this run into each other.

Then there’s Paddington and West End.  They have character and gorgeous cafes to stare out at through the bus windows.

And then there are other suburbs with parks and bike ways of sweeping green.  One day we will go there more.  One day to the botanical gardens.

Can I take my camera with me yet, and look up and down these streets for images to enchant?

Must check the rules of the city, what can be photographed and not photographed?  I am not so sure in this space with its people.

The first thing I photograph of people is a street gathering of friends in West End.  It is friendly and open and I wish this was our home street afterwards.

New migrants, old timers, friendly people, arty people, and a few students, and families playing cricket in the streets.

I feel like I am back with the spirit of Mission Beach.

The hidden beauty of cities is sometimes put together with ugliness, graffiti, shambling houses.  Sometimes the shamble attracts me.  Odd bright colours try to dress up delapidated mess.

Expensive real estate space with shabby houses people can’t afford to knock down and barely livable.  Cracking walls plastered together and caked over with concealing paint.

I don’t wander with my camera, not yet, but I am scouting, looking out for the places with a deep story.

Our family is finding a new sense of place.  I am finding new things as an artist.

Our home is our cocoon from the cold.  Sometimes there is no desire to explore, just a longing for the passing of winter and the arrival of spring.

But I must look for the beauty of winter to keep me going through this urban maze.

Still I am not sure of who I am here yet.  I am still exploring, just beginning to chip away at the hidden layers and looking out for the hidden walks as well as the ones everyone knows.

 

What are the hidden walks in your town?

 

(c) June Perkins