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Is it a small world?


swilkinson

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I just listened to "Auld Lang Syne" on Julie's blog. It is lovely to look at but it suddenly struck me that It is so UNLIKE our New Year. We are in the middle of summer. Our country is full of heat haze and humidity at this time of the year. We are lucky if we have a cool breeze rippling the ocean when we brave the hot sand to go down to the beach. And some nights the heat hangs heavy on us like a blanket and there is not even a whisper of a breeze.

 

When we lived inland,we experienced more extremes but it was a dry heat, with far too many sunfilled summer days. We had to drive more than an hour to the next small town and when driving watched as heat mirages playing over a red sandscape, at noon the leaves of the eucalypts hung limp in the hot dry air by the dried up creekbeds and as you drove through the bush and at night we watched the television news to see brumbies (wild horses) rushing ahead of flames in the bushfires in the Snowy Mountains.

 

Our New Year is not about snow and ice here it is about blue water and blue skies or dust clouds and cattle wandering towards the waterhole where the kangaroos have already assembled for their last drink of the day. I have lived on the coast, inland in the semi-arid country and in the temperate zone near our National Capital. I have had Christmas and New Year in different environments. I just wish I had taken enough pictures to compile a southern hemisphere New year for you to see.

 

I am thinking of this now as the time approaches for Trevor and family to move to Broken Hill, out in the red sand country. Broken Hill made it's name with the mining of iron ore. That industry has died down now so the city is shrinking as miners leave to go to other places. The city thrives on tourists who come to see the Menindee Lakes and stop at Pro Hart's famous studio. Pro has died but art is still important and a band of artists called the "Brushmen of the Bush" produce great landscapes for city folk to buy. Edie's Mum is a painter and hopes to be able to capture some of that untamed red landscape and learn more about the people and history of the Inland. She will be the babysitter for Alice and watch Lucas when he comes home from school.

 

A lot of Australians do not venture west of the Great Dividing Range. They are happy to live in the coastal cities and spend holidays visiting a different part of the coast. Our Grey Nomads, the retirees and early retirees, in their caravans and campervans do venture west and enjoy the "bush" but in the cooler months of the year, not this time of the year when the heat is extreme, only those who live and work there become acclimatised and thrive in the hot, dry inland.

 

I wonder why we treat the world as if it has just one hemisphere when it has two? Maybe the contrast of summer and winter is too hard to imagine and we just see what is true for us? I like it when I get Power Point Presentations with all the continents of the earth represented, Canada and the Americas, Europe, Asian, the Scandinavian countries and those we once lumped under the label "Russia" and the Pacific Islands including Australia and New Zealand. Seeing them we do remember it is one world. And if we remember it is one world and what we do to the land, the sky and the sea transcends our borders and affects others maybe we will be more careful in what we do. I want the world to be beautiful for my grandchildren and great grandchildren to enjoy.

 

As I age I change my views on life. Once I was very nationalistic as we all are when we are young, now I think I see a wider view of life, and when I see the world as it is seen from space I realise there are no borders, no walls or fences that separate us from our neighbours except those we have put up ourselves. Fences and borders keep other people out but they also keep us in, prisoners in our assigned places.

 

When I came to this house 45 years ago we had simple wire strung fences. Sure we knew where our boundaries were but we didn't build solid six foot fences to shut our neighbours out, we needed our neighbours. We all worked together to form our neighbourhood and our community. We actually knew our neighbours by name back in those days and talked to them over the fence, at the local store, when passing in the street and at local functions. Now we seem to move from our air conditioned houses into our air conditioned cars and the most we do is waved from behind those tinted windows.

 

As a widow I often don't speak face-to-face to another human being in a day. I do speak to the dog next door who seems to find her way out of her new fenced in yard over to my place on a regular basis. I speak to the cat from the house on the top side who often sleeps on a chair on my back verandah. I do speak to neighbours when I see them, wave to them as they back out of the driveway to go and pick kids us or go shopping. But it is not the neighbourhood I grew up in, the houses are bigger, the fences are higher and we are more isolated from one another. There is of course the phone and the internet so I don't feel lonely but sometimes I do feel isolated. It is not the world I grew up in.

 

And so I have to consciously make the effort to reconnect to life. Life is not going to come to me. My old friends have not suddenly reappeared, the invitations to go, see, do have not increased. It is a Do-It-Yourself job when you are a widow to reconnect to the world around you. Being a caregiver is isolating and when that role is over I guess people just don't rush to help you change that. i find I am slowly reconnecting. I do get some invitations and take advantage of the opportunity to catch up with old friends. But there has to be more to life than that. I know there is a saying "It's a small world" but sometimes to me it looks big and scary out there.

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Sue, I truly can "connect" to the last two paragraphs. Our neighborhood now is the same as you described. I once asked our next door neighbor why they didn't have a neighborhood watch group/party. She said "I guess everyone does their own thing". The neighborhood I lived in for 38 years was much different. Twenty homes on a dead end street, and most neighbors moved and died in the same neighborhood. We helped each other if someone had a health issue or whatever. Now it is just like you say, a "hi" over the driveway, or "Merry Christmas". When Larry first had his stroke, we were given a lot of helping hands but that has faded. I guess they see my "home helper" and figure I am okay or think the kids come to help us.

 

I do not like the winter - so much more confining and so cold. I wish we had some of your warm weather right now!! Enjoy your beautiful land.

 

Julie

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Sue,

 

Just think how small it is now with air travel that can get you thousands of miles away in any direction and the cars can go many miles on a tank of gas compared to many years ago when most travel was done by bus taking days to go long distances!

 

I can drive 525 miles to New Orleans LA from central Texas in just 8 hours then sit on my scooter in the casino and play the slot machines until I get tired!

 

It is a small world In that sense!

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Sue, I forgot to say how much I enjoyed being in Australia and sight seeing by Taxi in the outback country meeting the Native people who thought I was their relative as they took me in their care and fed me to get well!

 

I had just got operated on my back in Vietnam and came there for R&R before being sent back to a US hospital to learn to walk again! My Army career was about over but they let me get my time in to retire but not promoted any more!

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