Somewhere in holiday heaven
By Margot Edwards
Somewhere in holiday heaven, lies a tree branch that could have fallen on our heads.
Only the sound track of the borrowed video camera has any record of it. But the crack in our combined bliss registers as a moment to remember.
We follow a remembering road, winding through family engagement, people gathering and fern lined gullies – touching places of silence in our minds moved again by familiar landmarks, our siblings’ memories and a clearing haze of shadows…
Dark…light…dark…light. The flickering spots on the dashboard work like images in the camera’s eye, illuminating shadowy corners of existence, a tide of sensations familiar yet far flung.
The images move from this winding mountain road of the present to central Queensland past. To the flat expanses of recollection, of cousins hardened by station life yet ruddy and warm of spirit, pushing the boundaries of their existence, ever to the detriment of wild boards, snakes and kangaroos.
Somewhere in holiday heaven, I see the inside of a huge farm shed of corrugated iron, fanned by hot winds smelling of old leather, cattle dust and diesel.
Somewhere in holiday heaven, I hear the crack of a skull and the squealing of piglets.
It sits strangely, this venturing back to the past in the present. Decades of days fade in an instant as we meld the layers of life. Blending a strange mix of associations from memories etched – the kitchen tablecloth, the late night talk, the face at the door.
As we open the doors, we hit notes in keys unexpected and the long ago days of piano practice and secret kisses with lips shut tight, slide through in the silent moments of travel, of late morning dreams, of mistakes, of reflection.
Some where in holiday heaven, we strike chords.
Cicadas collected in night time escapades singing from the household curtains; adventures to abandoned houses with windows cracked from stone thrown hard; butterflies winging past handmade pools of reflections touched by dragonfly buzz; the quick crack of sticks underfoot on troll-lined walks, unknown assailants lurking to trap the trail of children running and passing and stopping to trick a croaking frog from its own safe haven.
Bridges to the past, once leading to now.
So, the little Billy Goat Gruff goes trip, trop, trip, trop onto the bridge.
And the big nasty troll says, “Who’s that trip, tropping over my bridge.”
“It’s me,” says the little Billy Goat Gruff.
“I’m going to eat you up,” growls the big nasty troll.
“Oh no, don’t eat me up. Wait till the middle Billy Goat Gruff comes along. He’s much fatter than me.
“Okay,” says the big nasty troll. “But you better hurry up before I change my mind”.
So, the little Billy Goat Gruff, trip, trops over the bridge and the troll lurks in waiting for its brothers.*
Somewhere in holiday heaven, we cross back over.
Size doesn’t make much difference now and we think of ourselves as independent. But the old troll is still lurking and our siblings are always our siblings.
Somewhere in holiday heaven we find ourselves in ourselves, in others. We touch base, we get burned, we touch base, we get heard, we touch base, we listen. The branch falls with a crash to the road – a slow motion distant sound-crack–to the road.
We breathe a sigh of relief and the sound remains forever on the videotape of our past.
*Thanks to Sam Shannon (5) for his version of The Billy Goat’s Gruff. Artwork by David McCubbin.