Friday, September 17, 2010

Our mate Sam

She came to us in times of strife
From her eucalypt home on high,

Until a man named Tree
On ground did spy,

Scarred and burnt, she made us think
As David offered a Samaritan drink,

Pictures world-wide spread the news
A fanfare with great acclaim,

Stealing our hearts
And earning fame,

Tears fell on August seven
As SAM ascended to her Shangri-lah heaven,

Her life’s fight lost
Hit us so hard, at such a cost,

In this year of two-thousand and nine
As all Aussie’s did but pine,

Sadness and sorrow
Visits once more,

But her sweet memory, will long remain
A ray of sunshine mixed with pain,

Sharing Pharlap’s mantle
It will come to pass,

For she too
Will be behind glass,

In Koala heaven
Now happy and free,

Nibbling at leaves
Back in her tree.

Sam lives-on
In all our hearts,

Her life’s struggles
Our minds never do part,

First, Mountain-Ash centre
Wildlife she,

Recovery at Rawson
Life’s fight thee,

Now bandaged, pink-socked
For all to see,

Clinging to her
Eucalypt tree,

She is our emblem
Of Victoria’s fight,

Against dreaded fires
Our Aussies plight,

Now Sam’s there
For you and me,

Melbourne Museum
Our thoughts run free,

For behind glass
Never a sham,

Just go and visit
Our mate SAM.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Yuletide or not Yuletide

Every year is the same. In spite of my best intentions Xmas turns into a shambles. It’s a bit like ‘whatsisname’ the grubby boy from Charlie Brown who manages to get covered in grime every time he leaves his front door much to the dismay of Lucy who is permanently clean, tidy, well presented and in a bad mood. Perhaps they all go together. The experience of being the only perfect person in the mix must make for some sour feelings, after all the rest of us are doomed to failure when compared with those who are sublimely addicted to the flawless performance of the Xmas rituals. And any other rituals at any other time actually.

A choice slice of martyrdom is served up alongside the Xmas bird. It is as inevitable as any other part of the tradition. Even if you make a pact with the lady of the house to have no presents—there will be presents. If you organise paper plates there will be extra cutlery. If you bring plastic cups and cutlery there will be three tablecloths and several dinner sets needed. You can’t win when someone is bound and determined to wring the neck of the Xmas experience and squeeze every drop of cheer out of the yuletide season.

Five years ago was no exception. However there was a new dimension added to the whole debacle. I was licked before I started, if I had only known. Every year I try to do some little thing that I hope will go some distance to breaching the gap, between the expectations of the perfect day, and the pathetic standard that I am actually able to meet. Having done the whole shebang one year myself — just to prove I could — I returned to doing a special few things that may be unique. That year I decided on the ice-cream Xmas pudding. This would be my “piece de resistance”.

Suffice it to say that the pudding wasn't a hit. I forgot that my sons see dried fruit as appealing as seeds in watermelon, and everyone else wanted "tradition". By the time I heard about it, all I wanted was "out". The Yuletide Lament began, but didn't end there.

The best year we had was when everyone was present, thus leaving no-one to be the sacrificial lamb, and Mum had made that most wonderful of blunders and bought alcoholic cider, instead of the usual non-alcoholic fare and got a little merry indeed.

But that year the sugar plum fairy had danced in my mother's head and instead of being the recipient of her usual Christmas Lament, I was the unwitting cause of it. I will leave well enough alone, except to say that I went home with my youngest son vowing to invent my own Yuletide Lament. With a little luck, I will have it ready for the next Xmas season, when it is more than likely that no-one will be talking to me, much less listening.

So this year I plan to have Christmas with the homeless. Whether that will be as a guest or a helper remains to be seen. My last budget figures showed that challenges were ahead, which sounds like a cheap astrology reading.

Either way I'll pretend. After all, that's what Christmas is all about.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Our Stories Should Never Die

The bench stands empty now
Its once proud frame decaying
The ornate cornices speak
of days of glory long past
It rested many a weary soul
on their way to the old homestead
Who came? Who went? Who passed by?
How many joyful children
tumbled, climbed and jostled there?
How many lovers’ tender embraces?
Those stories are gone
Our stories should never die.

We found a place. An ABC website, “The Making of Modern Australia”. With tentative steps and soft voices we came, sharing our words, our lives. Enthralled by the chance to write our own piece of history, to contributes to the archives of time. Living across this wide brown land, we joined hands across the divide, because we found more than a place—we found each other. Long out of the school room, beyond the reach of the dreaded red pen of censure we found acceptance and affirmation. How could this be? Everyday Australians taking part in the voice of history. Our friendships grew across the miles. We began to greet, then meet and share more of our lives with that wonderful bond of Like-mindedness. We found a place.