This island has already taught me much about living. It also brings lessons in dying.
Last week a much loved islander died. Yesterday we celebrated the way he lived.
What I saw was a great big community heart. The fireshed overflowed - bursting at the seams - with people wanting to bring their love and respect for this man, and his beautiful wife. I stood on an upturned milk crate at one of the windows. Cobwebs clung to my hair as I tried to get my ears further inside the window. Even whilst on a milk crate I couldn't match the height of the friend beside me. When the kids weren't shouting and the dogs weren't fighting I could hear most of the tributes, and I could definitely hear the band, choir, and the beautiful lone singer singing The Beatles' 'Blackbird'.
The fireshed kitchen was full of homemade goodness: quiches, tarts, biscuits, cakes, slices, sandwiches, pastries, fruit salad, with the smell of the previous evening's curry still lingering.
We have a few weeks of winter left, and when the wind blew I shivered in my Sunday Island best. We stood in the cold, laughing under the gum trees, sharing stories - as usual. Then we sat at the fireshed bar, drinking tea and wine, eating cake and oranges, still laughing. The kids were handed juices and left with big smiles. Chooch tried his luck: "hey Mama, because it's a special day, can I have a coke?" No my darling. Nice try, but still No.
I love seeing islanders in their Sunday Island best. For me that meant brown boots, my favourite new green skirt with a hint of gold thread, black wool vest and a blue and green butterfly scarf. One old-island-timer wore what may have been her best green velour dress. There was also an electric blue, long velvet coat, worn with fish-net stockings and cowgirl boots. Seriously, life here is LIFE.
I left with two empty baking trays and a pot of left-over curry for our dinner.
Today, life goes on, with a blanket of cloud keeping the chill in, the sun occasionally shining through it. I'm down to our last log in the fire, hoping that our final tonne of firewood is delivered today as promised. I have readings to complete for "Geographies of Global Change". Later I'll bake muesli muffins and wait at the wharf for the ferry to bring my boys home from school.
"You were only waiting for this moment to arise"