Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Yesterday. The tenth anniversary of my mother's death. The first day of my period. Yet another rainy day. All I wanted was to curl up under my favourite bedspread, hand printed with blue stripes and swooping cranes, and gaze out at the falling rain; to roll over and watch the faint shadow of wattle branches dance against the wall. I'd be my very own Japanese painting, beautiful and sad.

Instead, I loaded the washing machine and changed dirty nappies and ran around with the vacuum cleaner and hung out towels and listened to incessant chatter and picked up toys and wiped the bathroom bench and took phone calls and pegged more washing and tidied the kitchen and collected my kinder kid and made lunch and watched crumbs fall onto the clean floor. My two-year-old slept in the pram on the way home from kinder; my four-year-old would not rest; and I had no time to myself all day.

And just when I thought I couldn't stand it anymore, those endless mundane jobs constantly interrupted by the demands of small children; just when I thought I couldn't bear to read one more story or nurse one more bump or wipe one more grubby face, my four-year-old shouted at me to come and look. 'In a minute,' I said, but she shouted 'NO! Right NOW!'. The urgency in her voice made me rush over to the window; and there I saw a white-faced heron standing on our neighbour's roof. It was staring at us, perhaps trying to discern our shapes distorted behind the glass. We stared right back, quiet and still.

After a minute, or maybe three, it turned its head and picked its way delicately along the roof line, then swooped away with a great heavy shake of its wings, spindly legs dangling.

And the phone rang and my toddler fell down and Grandpa arrived home with my schoolgirl and the oven timer beeped and the girls began to squabble and I became stroppy. Then I remembered our visitor, and the way my mother had always carried a notebook with her to write down the birds she had seen. With a surge of gratitude I felt the house come alive, electric with people like a pond charged with darting fish; and I, standing in the chaos like a gawky old heron, watched on in fascination, and love.


  1. Thank you for this story and all the beautiful everydayness you capture for us.

  2. Hi Alison,
    I read your opinion piece 'What liberated women wear' on Eureka Street. I think it is a great piece. I follow a very popular blog on political and social issues www.onlineopinion.com.au

    Would you consider submitting your piece 'What liberated women wear' to On Line Opinion. E-mail it to the editor Susan Prior susan@onlineopinion.com.au

    I think it would of interest to many OLO readers.


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