Wednesday, November 21, 2012

All I want for Christmas ...

All I want for Christmas ..... is two months away, alone, completely alone.

Utter solitude. To travel back in time would be nice too.
Georgiana Molloy (1805 - 1843) - isn't she beautiful?

I read a lot of old diaries and biographies of pioneer women, or women who lived on farms or in the country. Women of centuries ago who sometimes had no choice but to be on their own for months on end. Like Georgiana Molloy (1805 - 1843) who in 1829 came with her husband to live in Augusta, Western Australia. Her biography, written by Alexandra Hasluck, (Portrait with Background: A Life of Georgiana Molloy - Melb, 1955) is one of my all-time favourites.

She lamented the isolation and filled it with writing letters, her journal and collecting botanical samples to be sent to Captain James Mangles, who was a keen botanist. I love reading of her day to day life - but what resonates with me, now more than ever, is the calm, slow pace of life. It's like a balm to my stretched, hectic, over-full one.

I know there were tragedies, children were lost, life was physically tough, but surely she felt a calmness that life was settled, it was predictable, there was a slow, yet deliberate rhythm. When I read of her walking in the bush every day to collect seeds, or sitting down to write, I feel a yearning for that part of her life. I know she would probably envy mine, my household gadgets that make every day easier, but I wonder too if she would want it to slow down?

I guess it is the minimisation of external stimulation that appeals the most. No TV. No phone beeping or flashing to say the world is contacting you. No cars, or trains, or planes or sirens. No emails, or the double edged internet - with so much information to seek, yet so overwhelming. Back then, you actually looked forward to visitors, not dread them like today.

Berringarra Homestead - build in 1882

Many years ago, Mr K took the boys and I up north to stay at the station that he had worked on as a teenager. (He was also conceived at this station, but that’s a whole new story!). He still loved this place and was excited to share with me why - the rammed earth station house with wide veranda's and wide walls, the bower shed where the jackaroos slept in the midday heat, the red, red dirt and blue, blue sky. The river gums, white and majestic, the dry river bed that belied its strength, the eagles and wild goats and bungarras. I saw what he saw and fell in love with it too.

We found out that it was for sale. I dreamed of buying this isolation. This life. It was to be a fantasy played out over many, many years and still, if all of the planets and stars lined up, and Mr K said come on we are going to live there, I would be packed in a heartbeat. By outback standards its not that isolated - only 660km from Perth, the nearest big town is Meekatharra a mere 170km way. The historic town of Cue 180km.
But like all fantasies, would it lose all it's lustre in real life?  I still would like to try .. even if it was just my Christmas present for two months.


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