Long ago you swore…
Promised… peace, plenty and place
And yet, still, I thirst
The tightness eroded to burning. Puffing devolved to panting. And my heart threatened to explode whilst demanding common sense prevail. It was only pride that kept me going. Pride… and the promise. “Come drink from the mountain stream.” I was pulled and cajoled, prompted and prodded. A weary beast, resisting the work, yet yearning for greener pastures, I waged on and conquered the hill.
We’d cut all ties from the city and bumped down firmly in the elbow of Blanks Mountain overlooking Esk. A tree-change. A chance to cure our critical condition: to… find balance, smooth troubled waters, heal fresh wounds.
At last, accompanied by a refreshing breeze, my wobbly legs carried me to our new Place… where I was met by a legion of Lantana. The saying, “Necessity…? Desperation mothers creativity” became my mantra. The noxious weeds were a cancer that belied rhyme and reason. Yet, from within this crucible, I learned that physics, inspired by despair, was a valiant weapon against the beasts. With blistered hands, strained muscles and fingers pickled by thorns, the rich aroma of freshly turned, volcanic soil was released. Pungent, purified and pregnant. Once again, the earth became a womb for thousands of natives populating the reclaimed and reimagined land.
Finally, from the vantage point of the new veranda wrapped around the old house, the horizon revealed a vibrant valley, ancient rocks and a clear, cloudless sky.
Precious water carted in buckets was metered out to each new tree. Just to give them a start. Just until the rain came. Just to keep them alive. Just… one more week. Just… until… the rain…
Summer’s sun burnt the earth. Green curled into brown. Brown baked to rock. Rock dissolved to dust. And dust plundered the moisture until tanks ran dry. All but few of the ancient trees died. Starving animals became well-acquainted neighbours. And temperatures rose relentlessly until water became a unifying obsession.
Autumn’s wind: a clarion call of change. Clouds billowed blocking the sun. Acrid smoke spewed, coating sunrises after sunsets. Fire seared our eyes and torched our hopes until everything… everything tasted of bitter ash. The old tinder box, once our comfort, now a curse. A threat. A trap.
The depths of winter buried the memory of the dream. In truth, we were changed, hardened, wearing new wounds cut from old cloth. Rose-coloured glasses shattered. Greener pastures pillaged. Faith in the promise fading.
Life pierced the thawing crust and spring exhaled “…The mountain stream…” A sighed invitation to a secret gully where aged rocks rested in an immortal stream. Thorns glanced over calloused palms, crumbling soil rolled under sturdy feet and a healthy heart beat in tune with the earth’s.
The foreign scent of musty soil mixed with the echo of water flowing over, and drowning out, doubt’s murmur. A cool mist coated my lungs with longing. Forging through forests of ferns, I emerged to imbibe the lifeblood of the mountain. Pounding water: beating, flowing, exploding from the rock, sung to my soul.
“Come and drink.”