I seem to be connected to Cairns in North Queensland as if by a rubber band. I just can’t seem to stretch myself very far from this place. I’ve spent the last few days on a short road trip down the coast with one gentlemanly old man and then turning around and returning back up north with another equally gentleman-like older man. They’re harmless, these ones and simply in need of a bit of company as they travel, from one swimming hole and nature-bound campsite to another on the winding months of holiday they allow themselves in their retired years. Both of them were surprisingly grounded, self sufficient individuals who understood the value of the sea breeze, and of mountain air rustling their failing hair; of the salt in brine and crisp of spring water on their skins. Both understood the power and nutrition one receives when submersing oneself in the pounding water of short falls. They were two of the most alive retired people I’ve ever met.
Dave, my ride down south, is a 70+ year old retired man with a grandchild who is nearly my age. He eats well and enjoys a good naked dip in the ocean before breakfast, followed by as many dips in freshwater creeks as his can possibly fit into the day. He also enjoys painting and carries his paints with him on his travels in case the mood strikes to capture the trees and plants around him. He has a particular appreciation for the mottled camouflage look of some tree barks formed by the delicate layering of pigment, lichens and moss, something he says is a delight to paint.
Jeff, my ride back up north is a 60+ year old man who retired early when two close friends of his suddenly died and he realized the worth of his days. With two kids well raised and on their own, an ex-wife who was removed from the picture and enough money in the bank and in assets to comfortably support himself, he hit the road. Now he spends the summer months in his home outside Melbourne and escapes to the warm winters of the north where he whiles his days walking his dog through the scenery, hiking and taking dips in fresh water pools. Occasionally he finds the perfect place and the perfect weather to fly his aerochute (which he stores in the back section of his caravan trailer). From way up there he gains a whole unique appreciation for the scenery in which he travels and he even manages to take photos of the sights. He wanted to get us up in the air and it certainly would have been such a treat but it has been too windy of late and we couldn’t fly. His companion golden retriever, Shannon, is his right hand man and a bright one at that. This dog was 11 years old but you would never know it for how he leapt up creek beds, jumped into frigid mountain waters and generally went wherever Jeff went. If he couldn’t follow he would steal one of Jeff’s shoes to say loud and clear “you aren’t leaving without this!” He couldn’t stand to be led by a leash and instead preferred to hold his leash in his mouth and walk himself. Getting to know them, and seeing the bond between man and his dog made me ache with eagerness all over again to get a dog of my own when I return home.
I’ve now been safely deposited back in Cairns and am posting up for the night at a tidy and quiet, all girls hostel. It is a perfect place it seems, to finally get around to some writing. I also managed to get up to some public hoop performance in and around down town Cairns today. I had fun and certainly impressed a fair few people but was met with the recurring realization that I limit my impact by not fully engaging with the crowd. I am getting better at looking up and making eye contact but I do not hold eye contact and I don’t know how to introduce myself or maintain an outer monologue to the crowd. I’m patient with myself, however. I know I will learn these things in time, I just could use a mentor and teacher to help graduate to that next level of hoop dance: performance.
A fiery fairy who has set off to explore Asia and discover new things about the world and herself. The journey is one to fully realize her strength and an unwaivering faith in her personal power.