G'day and welcome to the first in a series of blogs in which I share my life and reflections. I am a novelist who writes about contemporary Australia: the people and concerns of the day. I'm not interested in perpetuating the popular myth that we are a pastoral landscape or an Outback community. The historical truth is that we have always been an urbanised nation and remain so today. My debut novel 'In and Out of Step' continues to sell well throughout Australia and overseas, and there is keen publisher interest in my current project, 'Life Song', which is under development. I expect it to be released late 2012.
Blogging keeps me writing to a schedule but takes the pressure off me to advance my current project. Like running long distance, I find breaks are necessary to maintain 'imaginative fitness', but I find it is important to maintain the routine. Just as over-running can harden the arteries and restrict vascular flow, so too does an inflexible writing program.
I live on a property on the urban rural fringe north of Canberra (Australia) in Wamboin that is located around the border between New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. Wamboin varies in elevation from 619m to 918m above sea level. We're close enough to the national capital to benefit from all of that city's attractions and yet distant enough to enjoy country living and the space that comes with it.
Having grown up in Sydney and having travelled extensively with my husband, who is still a serving officer in the Royal Australian Air Force, the decision to commit to one location and a permanent residence was a big one for us. Moving every few years had never been an issue for me whereas staying in one place was. I think that was because I inherited my father's restlessness. My father, a Scotsman, immigrated to Australia after WWII. Although he physically settled here, I know he never felt psychologically at home. He longed for somewhere else, something more akin to the Clyde River landscape from his homeland.
I think the decision to live in one place was difficult for me as well because it was the first step toward the end of our military lifestyle, and yes, moving toward retirement. That made me feel old. Age is a state of mind though, and I've recovered my self-image which is ageless. Add to that the huge amount of energy required in establishing a property. Who needs a gym when there is 120 tonne of soil to redistribute for gardens? Hard work has shown me how young I really am.
Our change in lifestyle was also made easier because of where we now live. Canberra is one of a few places in Australia that actually has strong seasonable changes and the closest thing to a northern hemisphere Fall. Another is Leura in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney.
Currently, the landscape in our region has moved from the skeletal starkness of winter into the budding greenery that heralds Spring. Wild flowers have begun to mass along country roads. Lizards and echidnas have once again taken to sunning themselves on the bitumen roads - not the safest of places to enjoy the day's warmth. For those of you who don't know, echidnas are also known as spiny anteaters and belong to the monotreme order of egg-laying mammals.
On the way to my day job earlier this week, the fast moving traffic in a 100km zone came to an unexpected halt. Ahead of us, a burly truck driver wearing a blue T-shirt, cargo-styled shorts, and steel-capped, ankle length boots was trying to shepherd an echidna across the road while his co-driver literally stopped travellers to enable a safe transit. Both men were huge and big enough to stop a pack of rugby forwards in their tracks. Behind me, traffic banked up quickly.
Now echidnas are not known as herd animals and, unlike sheep, resist being directed. It traversed the road in a zigzag pattern obviously worried about the towering giant stalking it and clearly not seeing the man as his protector. The man seemed to think that tip-toeing in his work boots made him less fearsome. It was an odd ballet and funny to watch.