May 252020

She sat on the seat, tired, but satisfied with her day long walk, her hands holding the bag of rose-hips. Proud of what she had achieved. Her family had been against her attempting this walk alone, but she had insisted she could do it, persevered, and was proud of herself. It had taken from early morning and now was close to sunset.

Admittedly the last part of the walk had been tiring. Her old legs trembled at the steepness of the climb, but they held up, or rather held her up, she reminded herself whimsically. She had done what she had promised her mother she would do. Although it had taken a long time, years, before she was free and able to start.

The walk along the riverside, before the track leading to the hill, was delightful. Sun streaming onto the river, the plop, plop, plop of fish surfacing, ripples racing to the river-bank. The glorious smell of the gum trees overhanging the river. The birds swooping down, as was their habit, ever hopeful of a beak full of breakfast, or perhaps lunch. After all, it was some time since breakfast! Kookaburras laughing at them, or maybe at her. She grinned at the thought.

As the track veered away from the river, she found a path had now been cut taking her towards where the paddocks had been. The walkway was planted on either side with bottlebrush, which were now in flower. The colours were glorious: red, pink, yellow. Birds and bees taking advantage of this native kitchen of plenty.

She had seen the remains of the house where she had grown up, now a neglected ruin, a Soldier Settlement remnant of times past. Had scattered the ashes of her parents, kept by her for decades against the day she would return, fulfilling the promise she had made to them to take them 'home'. Time had not obliterated emotions. She wept as she thought of them, of the love they had for one another, for herself and her siblings.

The entrance to their farm still had rose-hip berries by the front gate. As kids they had gathered them, wrapping them in newspaper to take home for Mum to turn them into jam, rose hip tea. A simple life, simple pleasures, pride in their ability to help their parents.

She had passed the farm where her girlfriend Joyce had lived with her six brothers. Joyce had been so spoilt, always with the prettiest dresses, matching bows in her hair, the first girl in the class to be allowed to wear lipstick, the belle of the ball when she made her debut. She had died very suddenly after giving birth to her first baby. The funeral, the biggest ever seen in the town. Her own eyes welled up, even now, as she remembered.

John, her son, dropped her off in town to begin her walk, telling her he would pick her up at the top of the hill. He would see her at the end of the day. Advising her to take care as she walked.

Starting she passed close to the railway station. How swish it now looked she thought. An express train ran into Melbourne. You could be there in seventy-five minutes John had told her. Some people who live here work in Melbourne. Amazing.