There was one light on at the shallow end and in solitude I swam. My alarm went off at 5.15am. Togs on, a short walk across the road, and in no time I was doing my laps. Rings of shadows rippled from the lane rope floats like a monotone kaleidoscope on to the bottom of the pool. The splash from my stroke and blowing bubbles were the only sounds held in this dark space.
Off to Bourke the back way – along lots of dirt, and dust, and flies. Lorikeets’ opal feathers flashed in the sunrise as they screeched and darted. Plump goats scrambled in groups across the road. They were so fat they looked like they were about to explode.
There were areas where the trees were all the same height, nothing coming up underneath. I wonder whether grazing or climate has caused this pause in the generation. Some areas the shrubs trunks from the dirt were branched and black, with soft olive foliage – like black coral from the sea. Old prickle bushes were big, brown and grey, and were held up against the fences by the wind like large balls of wire. Across the dirt road were straw coloured stars, toppling and rolling and skipping and skidding, then became trapped against the fence until the wind changed direction.
The wind became stronger and I could taste the dust when I got out. The condensation on a grape in my hand even after a few minutes was a magnet to the dust. At my feet were succulents, with pink limbs veined across the sand. Their leaves were closed in pairs, together, like pages of a pamphlet. The sound of budgerigars, and lorikeets silenced the wind. Seed heads which looked deceptively soft and fluffy were scratchy and crumbled when touched and stuck to my socks, determined to find another place to rejuvenate.
Twisting coils of dust and dead dry prickle bushes rose haphazardly across the paddocks. Plants were grabbed and dropped at random, a pulsing whirling of frenzy and subsiding. Willy-willies generated spontaneously as the heat rose over bare dusty ground. The wind pushed and ushered them across the land. At times they looked like they resisted, and paused then pulled away in another direction like a sulky precocious child. The sound of flickering leaves and dirt and dead bushes in a whirling flurry became quieter as the tube of twirling heat dissipated just as quickly as it generated.
From Hebel , cotton clumps lined the roadside, like confetti after the bride and groom had gone. All the grasses which looked like fireworks three weeks ago had been slashed. The celebration is over. The puddles have dried. The earth is crazed. The seeds are spreading, in the hope for follow up rain so that there can be celebration again.
I’m tucked up early in a little motel in Dirinbandi. I’ve had a great trip home – being spontaneous and just going where the flies take me