Wednesday, 27 January 2010

doing the Fireworks Event

Australia Day sort of happened to me a bit too quickly. I haven’t been here very long. It was a bit sudden.

I have never much gone for doing the Fireworks Event on these sorts of occasions. I find them a bit Big and a bit Much. There is always a Fireworks Event. On Canada Day, I have done large-scale community pancake breakfasts, and I like them. To me they always have the feel of a giant campsite crossed with a country fair, as if we have all emerged from our tents and caravans after one of those chilly-yet-magical nights of sleep you only get from camping, to a beautiful broad July morning that is suddenly and arrestingly in a showground, where there is a tannoy broadcasting the national anthem, some vintage cars, and a beautiful dreadlocked girl in a sarong doing henna tattoos. But I’ve never done the Fireworks Event.

Well, in Australia, naturally there is no community Canadian pancake breakfast. (In fact, every Australian person so far to whom I have explained a Canadian breakfast has gone ‘yuck’ and made me feel bad about one of the very few meals I could offer to cook really well for them. Just by the by.)

So really, the only way for me to see What Australians Do On Australia Day was to go to the Fireworks Event.

I actually set off for the F.E with a flea in my ear, put there by a charming and friendly neighbour whom I had mistakenly asked along. I was treated to a spectacular rant about how sitting watching fireworks – an entirely non-participatory activity – is typical of this country, and how if people wanted to make something of Australia Day they should jolly well do something active, instead of sit on the beach drinking beer pretending that sitting watching thousands of dollars go up in smoke has any sort of national significance or resonance whatsoever.

So that was a cheering start.

After backing carefully down the driveway making calming noises, I went to the local museum. There was an exhibition about swimsuits! This is very Australian, I thought, ie beaches and competitive swimming and that sort of thing.

Next, I went to watch the citizenship ceremony. Something about when people choose to be a citizen of a place. It’s not yours just because. It’s yours because you really wanted it to be. It was a good atmosphere. Participatory, you might say. All of the new citizens were given a tiny Golden Wattle plant. When each person was called up to receive his or her certificate, then he or she read out the next person’s name. So your first duty as a new citizen was to welcome the next new citizen.

Then, sausages. From a barbecue. That is ten points right there in the Big Book of Australiana (listed, incidentally, just before stings, jellyfish, which is twenty).

And later, gathering on the beach ready for the fireworks. There were many picnics and tiny barbecues with more sausages, and a very large and convivial group of elegant old people, and many families, and people swimming, and even a guy with a big blue plastic canoe thing, and several games of cricket. There were a lot of people on mobile phones telling other people on which bit of the beach they could be found, and then there were people carrying food and towels and blankets exchanging warm greetings with the mobile phone people, having successfully found them.

It was windy. I got sand in my tea. People around me talked about all the other years they’ve been down to watch the fireworks from the beach like this. There was the year Reuben got lost. That first year with the babies. The big to-do with Aunty Peggy that time, which year was that? The time we sat and watched the fireworks from the water because it was just too hot to come out. And the year all those boys did that thing with the...remember?

And we all sat together and watched thousands of dollars go up in smoke.


Sunday, 17 January 2010

momentous event

Today, I got stung.


Being stung by a jellyfish was quite interesting.

Having survived a jellyfish sting is ever so very exciting indeed.

Well, I mean, they are really only tiny, not very harmful at all jellyfish here. I did not even see the jellyfish at all. I felt a shivery quiver across the top of my foot while I was swimming. Heavens, I thought. I wonder if that could have been a...

I was right on my way out of the water at the time in any case. By the time I had walked up the beach, there was a big red jellyfish sting on my foot!

When I went to get on my bike to go home, a lady who was getting her bike at the same time said, oh, I like those shoes (they were Birkenstocks). I wish I had worn mine that are the same as those. Instead, I wore these rubber ones.

I wanted to say, but look at my foot. You can see it, in these shoes. There is a big red jellyfish sting right there on my foot!

I said, oh, but those are very practical.

She said, I walked through a flood in them, in Bali. (It might not have been Bali, but I forgot where it was she said. And a lot of people who live here go to Bali on holidays, and there are probably floods there sometimes, so she might have said there).

There, I said. You couldn't do that in these. They would be ruined!

That's true, she said.
I cycled off, in my Birkenstocks, with my jellyfish sting.

So that is what it is like to have been stung by a tiny, not very harmful at all jellyfish. It felt quite like a big bee sting. Later, it felt a bit as if someone had stomped very hard on my foot. Later still, it feels like a very bad sunburn, and still quite like a big bee sting.

These are exciting times. Whatever will I get up to next?

Sunday, 10 January 2010

It’s a quiet fear, and some are better at not having it than others.

Here’s the thing. I reckon just about everyone can fall in love. And just about anyone can be in love. And many of us – most of us – to some degree, can love.

But there’s always that worry that leads us to fear – do we, can we, love enough?

That is, can we have, find, make, the kind of love that has you giving to another entity without thought of the consequence – because you know the consequence will be that you are made better – not just twice the person you are, but infinitely. Not the kind of love you have to keep feeding and find it draining you. The kind you keep feeding and only find it means you have more to feed and more to give; infinite, infinite.

Kids, I have found it:
O Fremantle of my heart. Never change.