Living with intent, social engagement, learning, growing, giving
I loved living in the yard of our grandparents. Suddenly my brother and I had access to space that we had never known before, with farmland, forest and creeks to explore and cousins and animals to play with. We both adored our ‘farm’ grandfather.
I don’t remember much about living in the caravan but I do know that I really like creature comforts now like running water, flush toilets and hot showers. The few times that my husband has talked about taking a tree change and moving to the ‘bush’ I have resisted for many reasons, isolation from friends and culture, long drives to get to any amenities, hardships in lifestyle, and the constant, constant demands of chores that have to be done, leaving no free time. It’s interesting because I could have gone the other way and moved my own family to a tree-change but it doesn’t appeal to me when I think of the nuts and bolts instead of the romantic ideal.
Anyway back to the memory, after a while my brother and I were moved into a canvass awning outside the caravan. We had the grass for our floor, two canvass walls, the end of the caravan as the 3rd wall, a canvass ceiling and the fourth wall, facing away from the road, was open. I recall frosts in the winter so I presume that it was cold there but I don’t remember experiencing any discomfort. That was just how we lived. We had wooden bunk beds that we slept on inside the awning. When I think now about security, that was a very trusting attitude to take in the early 1980s, considering that we were the only two children in our family and we were barely 10m from the road, with no wall between us and any visitors. We were fine. Conversely, as an adult and mother I am very protective of the safety and security of my own children because I have been so frightened by the stories of abuse in Australia (by the church, community groups, teachers, strangers etc) that have been exposed since I was a child.
One night I distinctly recall being woken in our canvass awning by my brother who was standing on the top bunk, his head against the canvass ceiling, saying that it was like a waterfall, while weeing onto the grass next to me. He was asleep. I was only 4 or 5 years old and it was pretty funny. Maybe a night-time trip to the ‘dunny’ was too daunting and I don’t blame him for that!
When I was studying for my PhD I became friends with a young woman from Cairns in far northern Queensland. She had lived in a tent in the rainforest above Cairns her entire childhood. She was one of the only ferals I knew who could top my own childhood!