“Funny how “question” contains the word “quest” inside it, as though any small question asked is a journey through briars.”
~ Catherynne M. Valente, Under in the Mere
“Say it, reader. Say the word ‘quest’ out loud. It is an extraordinary word, isn’t it? So small and yet so full of wonder, so full of hope.”
~ Kate DiCamillo, The Tale of Despereaux
My Kimberley story, continued…
I would like to say that I was happy, out there in the wild vast spaces of the Kimberley.
But that would not be true.
Life settled into a routine of sorts. Waking early, I would go for a walk before the heat of the day, dog following at my heels. Breakfast and then over to the office and a mountain of paperwork and management tasks. Sometimes I ventured to other parts of the property, sometimes I met the planes or helicopters as they came in to the station, sometimes I travelled into town. But no matter where I was, I was lonely.
Worse than lonely.
Miserably yearning for something, although I couldn’t tell you what.
Each night I sat by the campfire and waited for the owls, or if the moon was bright I went for a walk to count shooting stars. Sometimes I felt an owl follow me as I walked.
One evening after dinner, as I was walking back to the campfire, the aboriginal stockman fell in beside me. He always carried a big torch when he went anywhere at night-time, even if it was between the lit buildings.
“You. Why you go walkin’ off in da night-time?”
“I like to see the stars,” I said. “And I talk to the owl that follows me.”
He stopped suddenly and shook his head, making a disapproving clucking noise with his tongue. “Don’t you goin’ walkabout in da night-time no more. No good, all alone. No good in dat darkness.”
I shrugged my shoulders.
“Dat owl talk back to you?” he asked seriously.
“Not yet,” I answered.
“Hmmmph,” he said, and walked off crankily.
The next morning there was a big old torch and a spare battery outside my door. I knew it was for me.
After that, the stockman became a little more friendly. One night as we were leaving the fire, he asked me how many owls I saw. I told him five. He rubbed his hand across his jaw as though he was thinking. “Okay,” he said, and then he just walked off.
Two days later he came to my office, and stood awkwardly at the door, balancing on first one skinny leg and then the other until I looked up from my work. “My brudda,” he said. “He gonna come visit tomorrow. You be here?”
I couldn’t understand how he would know that, unless he’d made a prior arrangement with his brother. The stockman never used the payphone, and he never got any mail.
“Are you sure?” I said stupidly.
“Mm humph,” he grunted, and then he tapped his long bony finger against his temple. “My brudda talk to me in here. He bring you tree (he held up three fingers) fine mudcrab. He gonna bring Auntie. You better be here.”
I didn’t understand, so I just smiled.
That night I didn’t go out to the campfire. I went for a short walk, and then retired early to bed. All night my dreams were crazy, but one in particular stood out. An old, fat aboriginal lady with a jolly face and wearing a faded pink dress, took me flying through the night sky. She held my hand and we effortlessly glided above the sleeping landscape. I could hear the thoughts and the dreams of the people and the animals below. The air around us was silvery and slippery somehow. And I don’t remember how I came home, but I woke up in my bed the next morning almost convinced it had been real.
That afternoon a rusty old truck rattled up though the riverbed and into the station. The aboriginal stockman stood in the middle of the road, just outside my office, waiting for them.
It was his brother, who had driven down from Wyndham to visit him. I was introduced to the brother, and then an old lady climbed down from the cab of the truck. She was barefoot, wearing a faded pink dress, and she was plump and jolly.
“Hey girlie,” she said to me in a raspy, strong voice. “I know you.”
I felt weak, like my legs would go from under me. It was the lady from my flying dream.
She came over and put her warm hand on my face, looking deep into my eyes. “I know you,” she said again.
“Hmmph,” said the stockman. “I told you. She dat ting.”
I felt like I was hollow, like I was being sucked into another time and space. I could hardly breathe. It was shocking, although I can’t tell you why. This bare-footed, jolly old woman had such authority.
“I need a cuppa tea,” she told me. “And my boy, he bring you three fine mud crab. In that esky,” she gestured to the stockman. “Betta cook him up while dem fellas still fresh.”
She patted my arm kindly. “Tea,” she repeated. “We need us some tea.”
36 thoughts on “Out in the wilderness…”
just read that story and it had put a big big smile on my face. 🙂
I’m on the edge of my seat, Nicole. Can’t wait to read more!
Ooh…the suspense is killing me…!!
Reblogged this on Versatile Blogger Award and commented:
I love your story…
You naughty girl Nicole you’ve left us in suspenders …please let us know the rest . I am the sort of person who read the end before the beginning so please don’t do this lol
Take care Cherry n Oscar x
I think owls have an aversion to me, because I’ve never seen one 🙁
One word…….hooked 🙂
One word…. Hooked 🙂
I’m loving this story too! I hope you’re feeling better.
Such a amazing experience…….and you writing, as always, just hits home perfectly. As much as I desperately want to read the next instalment(s), thank you for spreading the suspense. It’s really made me search for my own meaning of my owl rather than piggybacking on yours.
Do you think the type of owl in a dream is significant? What about dream versus vision?
I hope you are feeling much better this week. With love
Ooh, love it!!! Keep going! 😀 xo
Ooh that’s cool, I need me some flying dreams. xx
nicole, please write a book for us…..so that we can read it over and over! i am sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for the next installment! xoxo pamela
ps. i am munching the “no bake slice” as i read your blog!
I was about to write the exact same thing! This is an amazing tale that belongs in a book. Nicole’s such a talented writer, I too hang onto every word. So powerful!
and this is how Nicole became addicted to tea! Once again I read this watching a Kimberley dawn and something magical happened again. Really wish I could share this experience with everyone. Thanks again.
Tea, perfect for just about everything, especially strange magical encounters, i love the spirituality of Aboriginal people, feel a very strong connection and simpatico with it. Hugs sx
wow wow wow wow wow!!!! I am hanging on every word Nicole. you are an amazing story teller sister, what a beautiful gift you share. thank you
I’m totally intrigued with your story! I can’t wait to continue learning of your venture.
She ain’t heavy …. she’s my sista. That old aboriginal lady who shared her special stones with you Nicole after you had helped her from the middle of the road – hmm humph, she knew, she sensed this girlie was a sista who could be trusted with something very special. Can’t wait to read more ………….. have a lovely day. xox
I love that story about Nicole helping the aboriginal lady who was in the midst of a dangerous low with her diabetes too, Mitch. But I’m loving this story extra hard!! 🙂
Ant then….and then…can’t wait for the next installment
Nicole…can we please have the next bit tomoz? please…pretty please!…X
Seconding Satisha’s request!
Best story ever!
<3 <3 <3
Really loved it, Nicole!
Wonderful storytelling – very atmospheric and magical
I luvvvv this story….xxx
Love it 🙂