Winter seems long passed. It wasn’t a particularly cold winter here in Newcastle and although we are now in the midst of spring, it feels more like summer due to the unseasonably high temperatures and hot winds which have been blowing in from the west. I somehow feel as though we have missed spring. Missed the lightness it brings and missed those moments when all seems at its loveliest.
My soft wool jumpers have been relegated to the back of my wardrobe for now, the days are longer and there is little need for my wetsuit as the water temps have risen to a very welcomed 20 degrees. Happy days indeed…….
Earlier in the year I headed out on a road trip of sorts which took me inland of Newcastle. There is something quite charming about heading out to the country as this trip took me over bridges and through our flawlessly beautiful Australian bush of towering Blue Gum, Wattle, Ironbark and Turpentines’. Beauty existed quite comfortably right alongside a rough dirt track or a harsh bitumen road and perspective loomed around every bend.
The drive is lovely on weekdays as there is little traffic so I let my eyes wander from the winter blue sky to the green pastures to the Kookaburras which sat on overhead wires. This was a trip of local radio stations and of a road which ended in a valley lined by steep granite peaks, part of the Great Dividing Range which runs from the tip of northeast Queensland to the Grampians in Victoria.
My destination lay at the end of this winding dirt track. This was wine country, splendidly beautiful and unashamedly romantic, yet something had dogged my road trip and as I approached, I began to regret my decision to do this. Out here, my heart suddenly held a fresher hurt and I knew the reason why……… I would be ‘living’ and working alongside five other women!
Perhaps I had clung to the notion this trip would somehow heal my heart. That amongst the vines and beautiful countryside lay some sort of restorative healing which would magically put distance between sorrow and myself. Deep down though, I knew that there are some things which just cannot be fixed and this is especially true when your heartache is like that of a massive fist punch to the chest.
Though guarded, I met each of the other women as we began to gather. Watching them, I could not help but wonder at how they all seemed nice but perhaps that’s the thing with nice. Someone can be nice until they feel the need to no longer be nice and from experience, it can become not so very nice at all!
The work in the vineyards captivated me. Perhaps it was in the gathering of the dusty purple grapes or the snip, snip, snip of the petite secateurs so deceptively sharp they can cut through wire or it was the deep satisfaction of time well spent. Life seemed to tremble among the branches of those robust old vines and there is something quite soothing in the weathered patina, that worn surface of the big wooden posts which held up the trellised vines. Save the snip of the cutters and the occasional call of a Bell Bird it was deeply serene. It is a lovely way to work and it almost felt as though this is how the world of work should always be.
Late afternoons in the vineyards is lovely. The sun lowers and the landscape and sky change. The shadows become long and the kangaroos, those most beautiful and singularly exceptional of all creatures, come out and you realise these are the moments you wish you could pause and holdfast to just a little longer.
In the evening we retired to the house for a well earned shower and where a warmth and experience began to unfold that would sustain me long after this ended. There was also little connection to the outside world as mobiles, internet, TV and social media were all willingly surrendered yet they were replaced with serenity, good company, laughter and stories. What I found most wonderful was that the beautiful lost art of conversation was rediscovered and there is a lovely moment to appreciate when you go from being strangers to feeling connected and relaxed.
Meals were shared around a large farmhouse table. A simple table graced with comfort food, the sort of food which can nourish and is ready for sharing and where a simple glass of very good wine can change everything. Moments such as these make you want to hunker down, build a raging fire in the open hearth and never leave…..
When first meeting these women my head told me to be wary but after picking and a good evening spent in each others company my heart was in surrender mode. Later in the evening when the other women had retired to the warmth of their beds, I sat quietly and jotted down some notes. Small transcripts, honest and heartfelt of this experience.
The next day I woke early to a morning of light fog. No one else was up so I took a walk through the vineyards and adjacent bush land. Early morning it seems, will willingly reveal much. The vines and the native bush are at their loveliest and the air is so clean. As the sun rose the Bell Birds and Currawongs called and the kangaroos began their quiet movement into the day.
As I walked, a moment of sadness washed over me. One very acute wave which I then dismissed with a vow not to think of it again while in the company of these uniquely diverse and glorious women. The things which had so brutally punctured my heart in America and after, although most acute when I arrived had begun to lose its sharpness. Perhaps I will always carry that time of sadness with me but I knew there to be good, kind and amazingly wonderful women still out there.
Women and girls very often face unimaginable obstacles but one of those barriers should never be another female. I have always believed a measure of a woman is in the worth of how she treats another woman yet some so easily devalue their worth through jealousy, malice and spite. The basis of any human decency is not demean or attack another. No one ever deserves that sort of brutal antagonism yet for some it is far too easy to disrespect their intellect with a frail ego, self-loathing or they wallow in a sinkhole of negative arrogance. When women support and encourage other women there becomes such potential for change and achievement and it is in these moments that truly wonderful things are made possible.
The Bell Birds lifted their song, the sun rose a little higher and I stumbled in a wombat hole but somehow, all seemed very right in my little part of the world. Perhaps we all search for acceptance from others and we can also look for an intimacy of sorts which can, when the time is right, strike the numbness from our hearts.
Not so long ago I was back in beautiful wine country with oenophiles and those just happy to taste a very good seasons’ harvest. It was a lovely day being surrounded by people whose company I enjoy as they are passionate, inspiring, beautifully natured and open-minded. When you are open and grateful, good things really do come…….xx