Thursday, September 17, 2009

because he loves the stars

me, almost two, camping under a grey English sky

this morning i bundled che in the stroller (wella) and we walked along our street to the old farmhouse at the end. and there, under blue spring sky we sang and baked bread and made mud pies, as we do most weeks, at steiner playgroup. before long, it was time to say goodbye and collect our warm bread. Ché ate as I pushed him along, to the other end of the street, where I grabbed my daily cappuccino, turned around, and headed home.

i noticed, as i we walked past the primary school that the spinkler was chugg, chugg, chugging in circles (grey or bore water, i'm presuming) and the scent of eucalyptus was strong. heady, almost. thrown back to my school days of running in spring and summer heat, school playground, gumnuts crushing underfoot.

My letterbox contained a parcel from Harpercollins Publishers, an uncorrected proof copy of Nikki Gemmell's new book: Why you are Australian - a letter to my children. Part memoir, part observation, Gemmell (who you may remember from years back on triple j, or more recently for the anonymously written The Bride Stripped Bare) decides to spend three months in Australia with her Notting Hill raised children. So they can squint there eyes in the sun, so they can run barefoot on the earth, so they can see stars in the clear night sky.

I put Ché to sleep, crept out to the verandah and sat in my swinging chair, my white, winter legs soaking up sun. 60 pages later I'm here writing this, because I couldn't wait.

Because that was me. I was born in England and when I was 2-and-a-half my parents decided to move to Australia because of the land, the sky, the water. The space. When I returned to England at seventeen I felt so grateful for the opportunity to grow up with a backyard and a hills hoist. Street cricket. To know so well the way sea water leaves traces of salt on my skin.

When I left school I couldn't wait to go back to the U.K. for the history, the culture. The bustling, dirty, grittiness of London. Every young university student wants to escape the bogan life of Australia, don't they. If you stay, you're stuck. If you leave, you're seeking opportunity, growth and experience. I went a few times and came back. I loved London, I loved the grey sky, the dark cafes. I loved the art galleries and the old, old streets. But I missed the expanse and the air of home. I missed the way the grass turns brown in a hot summer.

I'm so proud to live here. And to be raising my child here. Last night, when I put him to bed, che pulled to blind away from the window and saw the stars and the moon. In the clear, black sky. "Oh, luna," he said. Early this morning, just after sunrise, and just before the garbage trucks emptied our ottos, he woke me up and said: Muma, kookaburararara. Those beautiful birds were singing and calling, our morning song.

Thanks Mum and Dad, for bringing me here. And thank you Miss Gemmell, for reaffirming with us all that Australia is wondrous and beautiful. How blessed we are to raise our children here. So they know the earth and the sky. They can smell the seasons. As I can smell summer today - and look forward to paddle pops, frosty fruits, bubble-o-bills. The culture of summer ice-creams is wonderful. Sweet, sweet nostalgia.


  1. you're a beautiful writer & spirit : )

    & WOW, Ché looks so very much like you.
    both very adorable children!

  2. Now Jodi I can tell your Britishness has rubbed off when you say that's a grey sky in your picture - I can definitely see a patch of blue - it must be mid summer! ;0) emma x

  3. yes, I love the Australian Summers, the heat, the smell of the bush and the icecreams...:)

  4. really enjoyed reading this post. i too suffer from the cultural cringe syndrome and yern for london on occasions (lived there for 8 years b4 kids) but i also love bringing my kids up here in aus. the connection between kids and nature seem so intrinsically important. they are happy outside. fantastic u have a connection to both countries and can share with che the best parts each xx

  5. My tea & your stories made for a lovely morning. Thank you!

  6. Such a lovely post, so well written. I can feel your love of all these things and see that Che is following in your foot steps. :)

  7. again you bring me tears & perspective.
    x thank you

  8. Thank you for reminding me why we moved our children here. We are not exactly living in the town we want to call home, but this life you speak of is the dream we envisioned when moving our babies here.

  9. I do love this time of year. I camped (and camp) with Guides almost every year at this time and for me, that coming heat brings with it the scent of dust and dry jute and canvas and smokey fires and sweaty, gritty bodies with big brown faces and full smiles.

  10. I think that we are very lucky to bring up our kids in such a wonderful place, I have to remind myself to take advantage of all the good stuff around and not take it forgranted

  11. love the way you play with words, just wonderful

  12. Hey Jodi,

    I thought you'd enjoy my blog. I just started writing a couple months ago. I have an article on extended breastfeeding and be eager to hear your take and advice. It's Thanks for the look around your space. It's beautiful.