Saturday, September 20, 2008

Cairns vignettes- of lemon juice and waltzing

Standing in the aisle asking various members of the Essendon Bombers for autographs- for my friends' daughter. Sure, they would have been thinking, until I asked a couple whether they were part of the team. I guess at that point it was obvious I'm not a paid up fan (Saints, as you ask, and no it hasn't been a good evening as I write this).

Being stuck in Palm Cove and learning, contrary to the timetables, that there are no more buses home. Don't suppose it occurred to any of the halfwits who run the buses up that way but that's a bit of a problem when you've got a toddler with you, and no car seat. So we get dropped by a different bus out on the highway, half an hour's walk from Trinity Beach. Well into the night. I'm walking my pregnant wife and little toddler back along a dark road, miles from anywhere, and she wonders why I pull a random stake out of the ground and put it in the back of the stroller. Dogs, principally.

A metre of silver queenfish bolting back and forth aggressively striking at the surface popper I'm skipping over the sandbank. An explosion as they connect, then the silver bar is leaping through the air, a surreal vision, incompatible with the still rich green of the rainforest-covered mountain behind. She tows us for 15 minutes and has her revenge twice, drawing blood as I lift her back into the water and coming back in bolts of pain in my wrist over the next 2 days. She was tired, but I held her in the current and swam her patiently until she kicked free.

I kept the trevally, he was small, pan-sized, and looking the wrong side of mortality. I went down to the corner shop and got some lemon juice, before hacking at him for a while to get 2 half-decent fillets and a bunch of scraps. I had the scraps, I fed my Beloved the fillets, as fresh as fish can be, drizzled in lemon and just cooked enough that the big white flakes were coming apart. We sat in the sultry tropical night, washing the fish down with a crisp dry white. Life didn't seem so bad.

Bear couldn't believe the pool. I dunked her a few times to get her back in the swing, she's lost a touch of confidence since we were going to swimming lessons last term. She was iffy, but hung in there. I made my way up and back, her on my shoulders, randomly 'bombing' myself under water and bouncing back up to hear her cackling with laughter. I put her on her front and swirled her around and around, singing the Blue Danube all the way while she smiled, as if to say 'you're a case, but for a dad you're ok'. Later she would point in the right direction and say 'pool, pool' and get shirty when we, inexplicably, failed to drop dinner to take her back for another round.

There were times, such as sitting on the beach, sharing half a mile of white sand with about 5 other people, warm, but not hot, the breeze in our collective hair, Bear in a state of bliss with her legs buried in sand, both of us drinking cool vanilla milkshakes, when I reached across and held Beloved's hand and Melbourne didn't make much sense at all. Life, generally, the way we normally live it made no sense at all.

The queue for Jetstar on the way home was about 200m long. I had the suitcase, all 20 odd kilos worth, kidseat (which can't be fitted to some cabs up there because they are in the process of covering the attachment rings with plastic, because dead kids matter less than stained seats, or something) and more. I was shuffling it all along. The man behind me was about 80. He started helping me, ignoring my protests and pulling the main bag along. He did this all the way down the line. We chatted about many things. We agreed Gordon Ramsay is a nasty piece of work, and that his success is emblematic of the decline of western civilisation. Yet his actions convinced me that there is good to be found around every corner.

When the pile of administration that is my work frustrates me I let my eyes glaze over and I'm back laughing in the pool, slinking into the sand, or poised, watching the surface of the Russell River...

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