Weekend – Small Island Style

Weekends are a collection of moments.

I sail over the sea on the 9:30pm ferry after spending Friday night out with the girls, shaking off our week. We generally meet at a bar somewhere central for all of us. Tonight it was the new cafe, bar and Dendy Cinema precinct in Coorparoo.  My three single friends and I sat in a row, legs up on the seats in front, sipping wine and munching squeaky popcorn, laughing our way through The Breaker Upperers, and afterwards we snuggled into a caramel coloured New York style banquette corner table at a busy bar.  After trading hilarious stories of work and dating life over tapas and wine I drive east to the jetty and I’m at the white picket fence of my island cottage by 10pm, greeted by my crotchety cat who has missed her dinner.  I stride through the gate and onto my deck, sweeping Lillybelle into my arms as I wrangle the key in the door. I grab some chokkie from the fridge and chomp on it and walk around drawing curtains with my cat slung around my neck like a scarf. She dribbles happily.

Saturday morning, I’m awakened by birds and soft light, as my cat hops onto my bed and marches up to squat on my chest, her whiskers tickling my nose. She purrs happily and I lie there, happy also in the stillness. We listen as random bird calls become frenzied gossip and screeches in the trees outside. At 7:00am I sit up dispersing my cat like a scatter cushion. I’m in a race to get to gym for my circuit class run by the whip thin yet strong and kind Helen Symes. I wash face, clean teeth, rub deodorant under my arms, my eyes still heavy lidded with sleep as the cat bleats for breakfast. I shed bedwear, climb into shorts, shimmy into a bra, pull a tee over my head and stride out my gate and around the corner with $15 clutched in my hand and a towel over my shoulder.  Our island gym is housed in a metal shed and today the tilt door has yawned open exposing the women of my circuit training group hugging hello. Equipment has been donated by individuals in our community including fancy new treadmills, brand new boxing bag, hand weights and yoga mats. I hop onto the treadmill still sleepy. They laugh at me. “You’re still asleep!” one lady says. I say “I have an announcement!” and the room is expectant. Am I pregnant? Getting married? “I have shaved my legs!” The room erupts with laughter and two ladies rush over to rub their hands up my leg. “Thank God!” says the lady who was paired with me for an exercise last week passing the medicine ball between us. “No more sandpaper!” We laugh and are pushed through our workout by trainer in chief Helen Symes. The laughter and activity wake my body and mind up.

After gym I walk home with muscles feeling strong and energy and endorphins sailing through me. I feed cat, leap into shower, another change of clothes (RipCurl cargo pants and tee) and I’m off to the Coochie Kiosk for a communal breakfast with friends. There are six of us and over a hot brekkie and coffee our talk leans to progress made on our individual creative and community projects and sharing travel plans. Island residents wander in and out with morning papers. They say hi, we say hi and keep chatting. Around 10 we go our separate ways, me home to do a little domestic labour before hitting the beach. Barefoot I wander along a familiar crescent of sand past three fisherfolk with lines in the bay. There’s noone else around. The air is warm, the waves lapping calmly on this windless day and above is our wide blue Australian sky.  I lay my striped beach towel under a tree providing dappled shade, and line my towel up so my head will be in the shade and my body in the warm Queensland sun. I strip to tee shirt and undies (noone’s around so who cares?) and lay down with a book that feels like a friend: The World Broke In Two, about two of my favourite writers: Virginia Woolf and T.S. Eliot. Later, as I read, an eagle hovers above the tree and wafts off again, spreadeagled in the blue.

Home again I hang out some washing, message friends about booking tickets to a Great Gatsby charity gala on the Gold Coast and then I sit down to do some writing. This afternoon and this evening I have set aside for writing a scene for my novel – precious time eeked out between my 9-5 Monday to Friday day job.  Tomorrow I’m heading into South Bank for lunch with a friend at a sun drenched pub overlooking Sunday markets and then am back on my island for a regular dinner and drinks with friends at our favourite licensed restaurant, Red Rock Cafe.

This weekend certainly is a collection of moments typical of small island life. A typical small island weekend comprises a nice balance of moments – time alone, time with friends, random interactions with island folk as I wander about, the inevitable practical chores, time for creative work, city adventures and best of all, my favourite things: communing with friends, drinking good coffee, eating great food made with care, smelling wattle, jasmine and the scent of the bark of great silver gums as I walk by, listening to the tweets, songs, screeches, choral choruses and mating calls of birds, hearing the subtle crackle and clicks of the little creatures in the mud left by the outgoing tide, and inhaling the raw natural beauty of my island as I read by the sea basking in winter sunlight.

A chorus of kookaburras have started up outside my window as I write this. I am very grateful for this wonderful life.






Women weaving magic

Last Sunday a friend invited me to her weaving workshop. After my Sunday sleep in I wandered to her street and opened her gate. Her yard is not grass, it’s a ramblers heaven with a bark strewn winding path that takes me past a chook house to her door.

I spot her wild pineapples growing. Amazing sculptural plants – she just puts the heads of pineapples when she is finished with eating them, in the garden, no drama or big deal just places them in some dirt and look what grows! Amazing. I am going to try this at home.

Upstairs in my friend’s cottage I join a small group of women in a gentle space used only for weaving and yoga classes. Over coffee we’re coached in wrangling and weaving island vines and found objects into baskets of wild beauty.

I find it hard to understand the weaving technique from my friend’s demonstration because I learn by doing. My middle aged eyes in my reading glasses (ready for my close up weaving work) are also struggling in the low lit room to see what her fast fingers are doing. Yet with a bit of coaching from the women I pick it up, and begin weaving vine through the ribs of my basket.

It strikes me later that the process of building the frame or ribs of the basket and then consciously, carefully weaving it’s body into place, is somewhat like what I am attempting to do as a childless single woman. I am trying to consciously create a life for myself out of the bare bones of my life (work, home, repeat), in a way that women with children do not seem to have to do. They seem to work, go home, repeat but also have a rich textured deeply layered family life that softens and comforts and adds flesh to their bare bones. At least that is how it seems when viewed from the outside. My existence seems thinner. Barer somehow. Like I am more ribs or bones than soft skin, breath and tender textures. We childless ones have to very consciously weave magic into the bones of our lives just as I am weaving this vine onto the ribs of my basket. I am consciously, carefully, as I weave, as I live, making adjustments when plans don’t work out, taking beauty where I find it and finding ways to fill the gaps.

We pause for a hearty lunch of potato and leek soup with pumpkin bread, then continue our alchemy.

My basket is weaved from cat’s claw growing wild on my island and an old orange fishing net crusted with shells and coral.  Lilybelle my island cat thinks it will make a very cosy cat bed!


Join me for my full moon commute

Tonight I crossed the sea after a big day at work and filmed for you my full bodied moon hanging in a black sky over a black sea. Although there is not a lot of light in this video other than the moon, I wanted to give you a glimpse of my evening commute following the moon home.  In this little video you’ll hear me talking to you and the clomp! clomp! of my winter boots (it’s cool here now and it is raining today). I am quite obsessed with my moon. I have never felt so attached to the moon until I lived on this island and it greeted me so surprisingly each month – I don’t know why I can never remember it’s about to be a full moon but it is always a gorgeous surprise when my car comes over a hill towards the bay and there it is hanging there so large and round and other worldly in comparison to our straight long streets, boxy buildings and boxy cars. It glows in its roundness. In its difference. I love to see it hanging bright above the traffic lights and outshining the tall jetty lights that I call industrial sunflowers. As our ferry follows the silver sea to the island I feel blessed.


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