Breadcrumbs from Yesteryear

Like most days for the past six months she had been trying to keep busy. Being industrious kept the mind from wandering to depths of sadness and loneliness and would tire her weary body in the hope sleep would come easy each night. She has yet to experience the deep sleep she yearns for but she remains optimistic the time will come soon.

And there was always something to do.

In the first months the task looked enormous and they all struggled to find the start let alone a path through. Bit by bit she was making progress. First around his chair, going through the piles of papers, medicines, bills, notes. Then giving some order to the pile on the cupboard near the dining table. She is trying to downsize the freezer and cooking up whatever is next when she opens the heavy lid, knowing she is now cooking for one.

The farm will have to wait until her children and grandchildren can help. Her joints are frustratingly arthritic, her weakening limbs burn with pain, her resolve is fragile. She can work her way through each room of their house while she waits.

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Today she decides to sort through the bookshelf in the back room. Decades of school textbooks fill one of the shelves, novels from last century another. She pulls off The Web of Life Biology textbook. Its cover is faded and scruffy, the corners of the pages curled and marked.

She is taken back to a winters evening in the old kitchen, father and daughter pouring over the book together in front of the warming wood stove. Teacher and student solving the mysteries of the plant kingdom together while she hovered close and kept a check on the vegetables for dinner.  His rich, authorative voice gently explained the intricacies of the plant flower while she absorbed and trusted his teachings. Cherished times now locked away as memories.

As she leaned to place the learned book on the ‘donate’ pile a yellowing sheet jutting from the heavy pages caught her eye. She steeled herself, not sure what this glimpse from the past would tell her. Families tended to keep a few secrets hidden in the back of closets, or books. What was this breadcrumb of life from yesteryear about to reveal?

The envelope was friable, almost crumbling as she gently pulled from hiding. She could still make out the post mark, sent from Tamworth in 1933.

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It was addressed to

 

Mr Clem Tunningley

Clemisha’s Line

Via Gunnedah

 

The bookshelf was now forgotten as she was swept back to bygone days.

99 Belmore Street

West Tamworth

November 13th 1933

 Mr & Mrs C.B. Tunningley

Dear Nephew and Niece

We received your venerable little packet in due course, & we now tender our sincere thanks for same, & at the same time offer you congratulations & best wishes for success & happiness in your new sphere of life. I daresay you are quite settled now to your happy conditions by this time & enjoying the very nice season for a good start off in the way of crops & stock! I know what a lot depends on the weather to make a success of things on the land, & I trust this is a run of a few good seasons now in store for the chaps on the land. I have forgotten the name of your place, but I will chance this little scrap to reach you some day. Trusting you are both in the ‘pink’ of health as I write this, & I will now close. With all the best of wishes from your affectionate Aunt and Uncle

E.H & Will Donaldson

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In the quiet of the afternoon she takes time to relish the long curves of the hand-written letters, the gentile language of the note. She smiles at the time taken to pen a thank you note to her in-laws after their wedding in 1933.

As if on cue her mobile phone beeps and breaks the repose. She is bought to the now, the books spread across the bed in various piles of keep – maybe – donate – recycle.

She smiles to herself as she reflects what this letter would be these days, in 2017. More than likely not even a letter but a simple text on a phone

Something like…

 Hey there! Got yr parcel. Thx. Congrats on the wedding. Good luck with harvest. Hope alls good, catch-up soon. Cheers!

Footnote: The farm books from Bellevue show that 1933 was indeed a great year for wheat – Clem’s income for that year much higher than others.

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Other stories from the Wedding in 1933

 

 

Photo credit: © Can Stock Photo / Grigorenko

Christmas back when..

“TheChristmas_Bellevue1y’re here! They’re here!” the children chime as they race around to the back of the house. A Ute slowly comes to a dusty halt and the doors instantly fly open.

Barefooted children crowd around as the passengers slide out, some from along the back of the seat, others pop up from under the feet of the adult traveller. The air is filled with squawks of joy and short greetings of “what took you so long”, “we have been here for ages”, “we couldnt start until you got here”. Read More

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My dad with his soon-to-be bride in the early ’60s.

My dad is celebrating his birthday. No great ‘landmark’ birthday ending in a zero or a five, but he reckons any year after 70 is worth applauding. My father is, I think, a classical Australian country man. The red earth of the property he was born flows in his veins, and will forever more. The saying “You can take the man out of the country but you will never take the country of out the man” springs to mind when I think about my dad. Read More

Our patchwork home

patchwork_quilt

When I turned 40 my aunt hand made a patchwork quilt. It is a cherished gift. The unique creation has pride and place in my bedroom. I appreciate the patience to make a quilt such as this – cutting the shapes perfectly and sewing straight lines so the shapes look symmetrical and fit together. It is an impeccable work of art, the artist knowing what colours and patterns work together, having a long term vision of the end product and scrutinizing the creation as it slowly comes together with every additional piece and stitch.

I have utmost respect for that perseverance, skill and care. Read More

Grounding Spirits

Josie sank into the old musty chair on the front verandah and took in a deep breath. There was no better time of day.

The sun was making its way over the hills in front of her, giving the sky an orange hue building the suspense before is big ‘ta-da’ moment as it lights the earth.

There is a slight wisp of fog layered on the young wheat, dancing and swirling like a fairy’s dress as she whirls in excitement, welcoming the new day. Read More

Connecting to the world beyond the farm

She stood at the kitchen window and watched Tom drive off down to the wheat paddock, his faithful dogs happily yapping in the back of the ute. The tension in the house lifts as a quiet settles around the homestead. Mary is alone for a while, a time she has grown to enjoy. Read More

Going to be a good year

Looking damn fine after the rain

As the sun breaks through the final of the rain clouds Tom strolls into his paddock of wheat and surveys his land. He kicks the black soil under his feet and the corners of his mouth turn upwards, ever so slightly. He starts to get optimistic for a good yield this year. That last bit of rain has topped up the moisture store, should get the crop through to its end now.

But he has learnt there is still a ways to, so don’t go banking the money just yet. Read More

Shut the gate – one last time

A world beyond the gate © Can Stock Photo Inc. / snucklepuff

As cousins jostled for the best position in the back of Grandad’s blue Chrysler ute the uncles in the cabin scanned the paddocks for stray sheep. The black, white and tan dogs kept the main mob together and gently worked them down past the dam to the sheep yards nestled in the valley.

Amid so many cousins together (there were over 30 of us in total) there was an air of fun and mischief. The older ones got to ride the tailgate at the back, daring each other to jump on and off the moving vehicle until Grandad would yell out “Either stay on or get off and walk home you lot”. Read More