For the first year in many, we all spent the eve before father’s day together. Me and my two little brothers – physically not so little but I can still claim an age advantage – and Gary and Dad and Amanda. We spent the eve together so that Gary, who was fast becoming a figment in everyones imagination due to work commitments could be a part of our “family” get together. We dined at a local italian restaurant, were entertained by the “pizza maker’s” operatic excellence and sipped on lovely wine whilst eating yummy food.
I had quite a rush of nostalgia yesterday whilst baking some old favourites for my middle little brother, the tallest of us all, and soaking fruits of various shapes and sizes in an obscene amount of brandy for dad’s pressie. The nostalgia remained bottled safely inside until this morning when I came home and took a long bath this morning to help ease the ridiculous lower back pain that I woke with, after being inspired by Helen Razer, my favourite sunday morning radio announcer who interviewed an author whose name escapes me at the time of blogging (how ridiculous to even mention her if i can’t remember her name….), about her newly published book about Leonard Wolff, the husband of Virginia Wolff. I came out of the bath still sore but with a story to tell…. so here’s the start. Please do tell me what you think. It’s most definately a work in progress and I welcome any and all comments.
She floated, languishing in the lavender scented warmth that cocooned her tired and aching back muscles. The new season’s strengthened sun shone a diamond of light on the pink and grey 1950’s tiles, taking in, she noted, only half of the stick-on duck and even less of the frog that clung to the wall. The tap, dripping endlessly, broke the silence, constantly. A half finished novel, wet with fingerprints, lay on the bath mat. The gentle spring air sent the hanging towels fluttering and as she took a breath, and lowered her head under the water, she remembered childhood bathtimes.
”Skin a rabbit”, Grandma used to say, as she stripped her off for an end of day soak. Violet scented bath bombs send her back to Huntingdale Road with an emotional rush.
As she floated, with her ears just beneath the surface, the retched tap ceased to be annoying. There was always a certain magic associated with underwater sounds, like when she snorkelled at Mt Martha and could hear the far away buzz of a boat propellor. Breathing consciously, watching the water rise and fall with Archimedes, she listened to her heartbeat and played around with its music. Hold your breath, slow your heart. The water filled her ears, and she knows that later, sitting on the couch waiting for her hair to dry, she will have to shake her head vigourously on the side to release that last little drop left inside.
Floating there, nice and warm, she wonders about her father. She can’t remember a bathtime when he was around. A thought which doesn’t make her sad neccessarily, rather ponder the role of her dad, all that time ago, when she was young. “You’ve been a Dad for 35 years this year” she remarks, pointedly, desperate for a response. He’s the only one with those memories now and she so desperately wants to hear them. A few glasses of fathers day eve celebration shiraz earn her an unremarkable response, granted, a proud and warm response, but one that lacks the intense detail she so often craves. Examining with indifference, her unshaven legs and her toes on the cool tiles, she makes a mental note ask him to jot down those memories. If only he would, she could slot them into her story somehow. They’d make a nice second voice.
Perhaps this burst of nostalgia started in the kitchen yesterday. Long before the need for the warm bath to soak away the back pain. Maybe it started with the baking of the Singapore cookies, all buttery and coated in oats, reminding her so vividly of her Grandma and her childhood. Just a plain old butter, sugar, flour recipe but one so entwined with memories that taking just one bite, warm from the oven has knocked 30-something years from existence and has sent her catapaulting backwards in time, a time lord in her own kitchen.
“Gee she must have loved you”, not daring to say such thoughts out loud, rather keeping them locked deep down inside as she sponged clean the creamed butter and sugar from the mixing bowl. “They say that the way to a man’s heart is via his stomach” and if you count all the cookbooks she collected, recipes she cut and pasted, ingredients handwritten onto tram tickets and sunday church readings, then you’d know just how much. A love that was undying, never wavering despite all the hurt. A love that became an ingredient, along with the flour and eggs, mixed into every meal, every packed sandwich and cut fruit morsel. Unquestioning.
She pulled the plug, feeling a slight guilt at the wasteful draining of water, draining away only to be replaced by newer, hotter water. “This soaking is for my soul” she justifies as she sinks her head deep into the freshly warmed depths of restorative lavendar scented silence. The words and memories were coming easily, no need to cut them short.
Crisp autumn air filled with drifts of weekend burning off smoke. Crunchy Tang coloured leaves raked into piles by her work week weary dad, only to be jumped into and spread, far across the backyard by her gumboot clad clomping feet. Sauso’s blackened on an impromptu brick and wire rack barbeque, built by her own hands, safe from the weather right there under the clothes line, under the blue tarpauline held on by a rock, some bricks and an orange rubber bouncing play thing. She can almost smell the sausages sizzling – tonight’s dinner will ensure that indeed she can, if only to jolt her memories.
It’s funny how different things inspire different people. I am reading and am totally enraptured and inspired by a book at the moment called “the dressmaker” by Rosalie Ham. It was one of Mum’s books that has been sitting on my bookshelf for three years untouched. I have noticed it on occasion, never bothering to pick it up to find out what it is about until two days ago. I’m so glad I did. The author’s style reminds me a bit of Tim Winton’s writing, my ALL TIME FAVOURITE author. If Tim can’t inspire me to write, no one can! Both writers seem to take you along for a meandering ride through the lives of their characters. There is so much detail to absorb within one page that I have learnt not to try, I figure I’ll get to know the characters when the writer is ready. Anyway, I highly recommend them both.
I’m also reinspired to concentrate more on photography again. Amanda subscribes to a number of great photography magazines so I had a good flick through them this morning. I am desperate to get a macro lens, one that will capture the most intricate details of the objects I place in my viewfinder. The photos above and below are of the skeletal remains of a chinese gooseberry flower that I found at my friend Cecilia’s house during the week. I managed to capture these two shots with my little compact camera, my only access to a macro function, whilst waiting for Gary to finish a meeting. I like the results but am not ready to rave about them. I would imagine that a professional photographer would find a number of things to “fix” about them but if I knew what those things were, I’d be a better photographer!! It’s all in the learning…. at least I can find the inspiration.
And how else would one finish a “fathers day” post but with this song…. It’s an old favourite.
Happy Father’s Day dad, love you lots.