Sunday, July 28, 2013

Return to Idyll, Avon Valley

You’d forgotten the dimpled hills, stumped houses, tomahawks cleaved in wood. At the end of journey from Reid Highway to Toodyay Road, a gravel drive drops slightly, dividing homestead from orchard. Wheels rock to a stop and memory returns, old troubadours since past, someone’s seduction. The gardens girdle the lush paddocks on three sides. Cockatoos rise up from the flat of the land, a farmer bends for breath, and wood-smoke rises over boundary and fence beyond the fire's first lick. Artistry and quiet have brought you here; time sprawling as a fox might slink lengthwise across a road. The house is an L-shaped bungalow of twelve rooms, the aesthetics of slow-flame, an old reminder of cottage craft, teddies and lavender. Windows override dining tables warmed with sun. Clouds mesh with treetops overhead and the land runs grazed with sheep and lama. How easy it is to go back to this house in winter, the old clearness of Maple leaves, waiting for ripeness on the trees. A spiny gecko runs the brickwork, lengthening his stride as he goes. Lonely? Hardly, while you settle into rocker, occupy each sunroom. You decide to walk later, knowing the neighbour’s dog will unwind its chain, a herd of Suffolks will rise from their folded legs. Horses might gather close to the fence, wait for a proffered hand. What happens is a pattern, the next day, a visit to the battlement of a bridge, pre-war style, engineered never to cleave. Ten years it’s been since you circled the labyrinth, its pathway of stones. You were meant to be solemn and silent, but you heard nothing. Yet, the same rumbling in the mud harkens, a catchment dam where you drizzled chicken pellets, later plunging marron into boiling pots, coming together and parting the flesh. Soon you settle in with a glass of wine, feed dry timber into a combustion stove. Remember the rude laughter of a drunken past. Did you suffer for your art? You think not! The pantry’s the same. So is the kettle for tea, bookshelves with music and philosophy. Lawrence’s jetty he captured for Tidal Town. Reflections croak in the distance, each afternoon a blueprint of the day before. If you’re lucky a blue wren will veer from a hedge, a lama will raise her long neck close to your deck, reticent to shorten the grass. Butcher birds will ring out the bells in their throats, as you relax back into the deckchair of this idyll, comforted by a transitional sky and the granite hills of the Avon Valley.

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