Crunching on loose gravel, I worked my way towards the main road. Dozens of sheep stared and strays who'd been feeding between the track and the fence sprinted across to seek safety with the flock. A couple of black cockatoos cursed the city slicker in the bright blue hoodie jogging under their breakfast buffet.
Space is different in the country, deceptive when you're myopic from working on computers all day and counting cracks in pavement. It sounded easy enough- 'down to the end of the driveway, a short distance up the hill then take the track to the sheds'. A good 'task' for my morning jog. And from the kitchen window it didn't look all that far either.
In Northcote, if you can see it, you can probably crawl to it on your stomach with your hands tied behind your back.
Ten minutes later as I started working up the hill, which now towered over me and embodied menace and ridicule, I was recalibrating my judgement. What heroism is demonstrated by having a heart attack at 33 on a country road?
I made myself feel more adequate by sneaking up on and scaring a sheep. 'Ha, tremble before my primal beasthood' I shouted at its retreating hindquarters, puffing my chest out. Then I scuffed my Asics all the way home and made myself a nice hot latte.
We had 3 days of roadtrip and farm life. Relations have improved between beloved and her father and stepmother. Understanding, born of time and shared love for a 6 year old daughter and stepsister, has infiltrated the previously tense relationship. Life, even my constant tooth grinding over the middle east, was placed on pause as we enjoyed simple pleasures like teaching the little one marbles or inspecting the vineyards.
The valley is breathtaking; a patchwork of wine, sheep and cattle country cut with pockets of bush and bubbling trout streams opens a vista bordered, in the distance, by the Snowies and a white capped Mount Kosciusko; Australia's second highest mountain.
I feel a strange sense of beloved's whole life in that valley, a childhood I'll never see which shaped the character of the woman I love.
We returned to honking trucks on a rain-soaked Sydney Road. I was in shock for at least 4 hours.
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