The swimming pool was warm; the 41 degree heat had done its job.
She savoured the solitary swim in the pool at this time of day. It refreshed her body after another day of intense and physical hard work. The insects buzzing skipped by on top, leaving her alone, to float, eyes closed to the blue sky, dreaming of somewhere else. Her ears below the water told her only of what lay below.
The cobalt of her swimming costume blended with the pool’s natural colour and the blue sky. She felt at-one with the universe, floating free and yet supported. Her head cooled. Ahh, peace…at last!
* * * * * * * *
I wrote the above piece in December 2006 as I was thinking about what to write about on my (then) very first blog. The blog manifested around one year after I’d bought my very first laptop and I was continuing to explore the wonderful new technology called the internet. I’d seen many very interesting blog websites and wanted to do something similar. I wanted a creative outlet, somewhere to express myself in whichever way felt right and thought a weblog would be a good way of doing this and it didn’t cost the earth, as I needed to watch my pennies. The above story was eventually posted.
I’d been thinking about my experiences working on an outback cattle station in northern Australia, called Bullo River Station, during the Wet of early 1998. My role was as a housemaid, which sounds innocuous enough. But, it was a tough job under tough conditions and I lasted only one month, the sole housemaid for a large homestead. I won’t go into the details here, except to say that the above short story is based upon an almost daily routine at the end of a hard day’s work, to have a swim in the swimming pool. It was deeply refreshing, and I needed it!
Fiction writing based on my experiences was one of the many ways I’d hoped to express myself. Never expecting to be actually published in book form, blogging was to be my outlet. A further impetus came from having read Marlee’s book, Bullo: The Next Generation, and I wanted to put my version out there. Of course, I had no intentions of writing a full-blown book, just some short stories such as the above piece and based on episodes that still remained fresh in my memory. Other similar pieces I have written since then have come a lot more easily as fiction and, I think, read a lot better too. No names, no dates, just places and the experience. I am always conscious of slander and scandal, and wish to attract neither.
The Marlee I refer to above is Marlee Ranacher, now the owner of Bullo. At the time I was there, she was the Station Manager and my boss and a feisty one at that, let me tell you! Another time may see the writing of more detailed items about that month. Her book? That is an eye-opening read. To quote from the flyleaf:
“For almost my entire life I have worked on our family property in the Northern Territory. I invested everything on a practical and emotional level in Bullo and it was always understood between my mother and me that the property was part of our future. I would raise my family there and in time it would pass to my children. Now my whole life as I’d known it seemed to be at an end. But, I knew what I had to do. I would give it my best shot. If I had to fight for Bullo I would.”
“The Henderson family of Bullo River Station in the Northern Territory has been immortalised in a series of bestselling books. Now Marlee, the eldest daughter and new custodian of Bullo, tells the unique story of her childhood and a lifetime of work on the celebrated property. She also breaks her silence on the bitter dispute that has destroyed a once loving relationship with her mother, Sara Henderson.
“Life on the privately owned, half-million acre cattle station, has always been a bit of a battle, not just against the hardships of the bush, but between family members. Bullo The Next Generation reveals the spectacular fallings out within the Henderson family, starting with Charles Henderson, a ruthless and autocratic patriarch, and culminating in the recent acrimonious court battle with mother Sara over the future of Bullo.
“But it is Marlee’s deep love and connection with the land and the home she loves that makes this memoir such a gripping and inspiring read. Unquote.
After reading the book, which I enjoyed, I wrote to Marlee congratulating her on the good outcome for her and Bullo and also enclosed my The Swimming Pool piece. I did not receive a reply, but hope she enjoyed it.