Night Flying and Cups of Tea

“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”  ~ Leonardo da Vinci

 

The next installment of my Kimberley story…

Do you know what it’s like to sit in a bush kitchen with a barefoot old aboriginal lady in a faded pink dress – a lady you’ve never met, but who you’ve dreamed about in vivid detail?

It’s a spin out. It’s a crazy feeling that makes you feel tissue-paper thin, like if you breathe too deeply you’ll just bust yourself to pieces and drift away on the wind.

The day that Auntie turned up at the remote outback cattle station I called home, my life changed forever.

While the aboriginal stockman and his brother made a fire to cook the big fresh mudcrabs they had brought, Auntie and I sat down together and drank strong, sweet tea. Mug after mug, pot after pot. At first she didn’t say anything much, just drank her tea and ate the cake I had put out on a plate for her. Then she asked about my family, and where I had grown up. What about my parents? My grandparents? She wanted to know what my ‘country’ was like. And where had my people (family) come from when they all came to Australia in the boats, back in the old days?

We sat on chairs under a tree by the river, not far from the fire, and in view of the main staff dining room. The afternoon shadows drew long, and soon the stockmen and station-hands began to gather for their evening meal. My partner at the time came to see if I was coming in for dinner. Things were strained between us so he didn’t linger when I said I was staying outside to talk with Auntie.

crab I was almost beginning to think I had imagined the whole flying-through-the-night-sky-holding-Auntie’s-hand thing when she said, “So, girlie, you like our night-time trip?”

My cheeks flamed with embarrassment. What could I say? Would speaking about it make it more real, or less? What if some of the staff heard what we were talking about? Not sure what to do, I smiled.

“Your grandmother, your women-folk, they tell you about dis thing? They take you in the sky?”

“No.” My voice was small, hesitant. It didn’t sound like my own. It was as if I was brimful of tears and if I opened my mouth any wider or said anything else I would dissolve into a puddle of salt water.

Auntie sighed and patted my hand. “No one help you with dis thing? No one get you ready?” She seemed puzzled, perhaps even a little sad. She sighed again and shuffled her feet in the dirt.

The sky filled up with stars.

When the crab was ready we feasted together in companionable silence. The two men stayed by the fire, drinking beer and eating. Others joined them but Auntie and I stayed where we were, under the tree. P1010139 My partner came out of the dining room, and called to me, “You coming, Nic?”

I shook my head and he trudged off. I felt guilty, and part of me wanted to run after him, but the rest of me was glued to the spot.

“Dat your fella?” Auntie asked, inclining her head.

I nodded.

She shook her head, her mouth a grim line. “Dat all finish. You be dat ting, it all finish.” She made a wiping motion with her hands and a clicking noise with her tongue. Her face became very serious. “Finish. Understand?”

In my heart I did.

If I kept sitting here, I was making a choice. She was giving me a choice.

I was so far from home, so far from everything that had shaped me or made my life make sense. Out here I was drowning in loneliness, so far from fitting in, so far from everything familiar. Out here I was someone else. I was something else. And I couldn’t seem to make it stop. I didn’t want to make it stop.

The stockman came over with his big yellow torch, In his other hand he held a flask of tea, and an unopened packet of sweet biscuits. He looked at Auntie, but didn’t say anything. It still seemed as if they were having a conversation, the air thick with their thoughts.

She wiped her hands on her dress and stood up. “You come up country, okay? Come sit with me at my place. We got plenty to talk about.”

I stayed sitting on the plastic chair, my hands gripping the sides tightly, as if I might fall off if I didn’t hang on. I made my choice. “Okay,” I said. “I’ll come visit you.” I had no idea what I was agreeing to. It felt bold and reckless and a little bit stupid. I felt drunk with the fullness of what I’d just done.

“Good,” said Auntie. “But I see you first. Take you flying some more. Show you some things.” She chuckled, and cradled my face in her hands. “You got the stories in you. Plenty stories. Old stories. Dat’s your magic.”

She pinched my cheek, hard enough that it stung. “Gonna make big-time magic, girlie. You dat ting.” Auntie said it happily, smiling so that her whole face lit up, and she tapped me hard on the breast bone as she said it, just above my heart.

 

All of a sudden my heart was racing. I felt a wild heat coursing through my body. It looked like the night was lit up with sparks. There was no way I could stand up.

“Don’t go walkin’ in the night-time alone with dem owls, okay?” Auntie said sternly as she left.

“Okay.” I didn’t know what else to say. Something big had just happened and I didn’t even know what it was, but I felt it, right down to my bones.

And those big old owls, they just kept watching…

36 thoughts on “Night Flying and Cups of Tea

  1. Kimberly Magic! Wonderful. I have only been to Kimberley once for too short a time. I felt the magic. Look forward to more. Thank you Nicole. I have spent a lot of time with desert mob and miss it always. Love. Lyn xxxxxx

  2. Nicole, I don’t think I have waited for the next chapter in a story as much as I wait for your ‘next chapter’. Whenever I read the latest entry my heart races and I am left feeling with a feeling of absolute awe and wonder. How I wish ….

    Thank you

  3. I can only say “ditto” to the comment above. That is exactly how I feel and so now I don’t need to type it for you to read. My heart is pounding with excitement! love, Pamela

      • oh hun, that’s what makes it grounded, humble and real – just breathe, you’re in good company now! hugs sx

      • I am so glad someone else had the same reaction as me! While I would like a daily chapter I truly believe the waiting only enhances the fantastic story.

  4. Just got caught up on all the installments (hadn’t read any since the first) 🙁 – Anyway, my heart was pounding. – Now I’m waiting for your next installment, but not patiently. 🙂

  5. Thank you so much for sharing this story with your readers, it is wonderful to read! I really appreciate the time you take to share your wisdom and your stories with your readers, I have learned much from you. I wish you every good thing, my internet friend.

  6. love it love it love it – your sweet unfolding, so beautiful for each of us to know our special magic and you took the courage to live yours in abundance, i love Aboriginal culture and spirituality, what a magic people! if you had been born Aboriginal, in the older days, you would have been seen and nurtured from a young age – your gift understood and valued, but you were meant to be exactly where you are – what makes your magic so powerful, grounded and real, it is so strongly connected to the people and land on which you live – joy!! hugs sx

  7. Big-time magic girlie…goosebumps, tears welling & a fullness in my soul that we are never alone. Wow!… double wow!…makes a girl want to find a dusty patch of earth & dance..sing..celebrate. Big hugs sweet Sis..and some more pinching of those gorgeous cheeks of yours..xxx

  8. Thank you so, so much for sharing your story. Personally, I like the bite-size instalments. It gives me time to fully absorb and see your story unfold.

    We all need an “Auntie” in our life to help us on our path and to understand what that path is. Love and light xox

  9. Your story is enthralling and fills me with deep longing. Thank you for telling us of your wonderful
    spiritual journey. Much love xxx

  10. That’s it….I’m booking a flight to go bush…so miss the magic and ‘strangeness’ of the outback!!
    Nicole….I hope this ‘little yarn’ is quickly turning into a best seller 🙂

  11. I am loving your story Nicole and so looking forward to the next chapter. Having had some aboriginal lives in the past I am so looking forward to the time when I can spend some time in the Kimberleys. Love Fred

  12. Great to hear the rest of the story Nicole I can imagine you flying around with her! Charlotte x

  13. I didn’t know anything about Aboriginal culture but since finding your wonderful blog, I am learning and I am hungry for more . I could really do with an ‘Auntie’ to take me flying through the air right now.
    Your stories are inspirational …thank you .
    Cherry x

  14. Please please please don’t ever let anything anyone says to you about your writing affect you in such a way that you stop because your writing is exquisite and compelling and I just can’t wait for the next chapter.

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