I settle to the task at hand, having drawn the short straw for the arduous job of sorting through dusty old photo albums, to unearth embarrassing or fun snaps to compile a collage backdrop for a 60th birthday joke. Ensuring quiescency by placing a do-not-disturb sign on the lounge room door,
Flicking through our recorded memories, concentrating on looking for photos of the birthday boy, almost missing a small black and white photograph of three shabbily dressed grubby faced children sitting on a farmyard fence, all wearing similar face-splitting grins.
Was that really us? My two brothers and I, so long ago and so innocent … Gazing into those young faces I’m transported back through the mists of time, to the happy carefree year of my twelfth birthday, when Dad, my brothers and I lived in a rented old farm house, in Meatian, a little country town in the state of Victoria.
The flashbacks are pleasing, the summer shower Dad ingeniously well we thought it was, rigged up out the back, using a rusty tank with a doorway cut in the side, set under a gnarled old gum tree with extended branches over which he had hooked an oil drum with a nail-hole pitted base. This shower could be fed two ways, either using the hose linked to a generator to pump water from the dam, or, for a group activity Dad went up a ladder with two buckets of water, pouring them into the oil drum to rain down on the three of us as we squealed and begged for more, even now I smile to myself with the memory.
With dad off at work, we were unrestricted before and after school, but at ages ten, twelve and fourteen, with four hundred acres at our disposal, there was so much to do, trees to climb, bird nests to rob, and minus a protective mum around, plenty of mischief to get into.
We were only there for twelve exploratory fun filled months, before Dad hoping for beneficial opportunities offering a better life for his three motherless kids, packed us up and departed the bush for Melbourne and a future life in the city.