Free range

My hometown, the one I grew up in, the one where my parents live, is about a four hour drive from the beach house. It’s a drive I think I could almost do blindfolded. It’s the drive that took us on ‘trips to the city’ when I was a kid. For a few years it was the bus ride to boarding school, later it was the trip home for camping trips, 21st parties and weddings. G and I made the trip for our own wedding. Now, it’s the drive I make with the The Little Travelers to see Granny Max and Gramps.

Whenever we catch a re-run of McLeods Daughters, it can be guaranteed that I will sigh dramatically at some stage and say “look at the scenery, isn’t it gorgeous, doesn’t it look like the trip to Granny’s house”, one of the Travelers will groan and say “Mum, you say that EVERY TIME and yes it does, because it IS on the way to Granny’s house”. I just like to remind them. Whether I’m watching it from my snow covered house in Canada or my baking hot compound in Qatar, I envisage myself making that trip and remember when it was that easy. I imagine being able to just walk outside, jump in the car and go.

After dropping G at the airport on Sunday we made the trip back to the beach house. We were all unusually quiet, I kept picturing G checking in and making his way to the gate, knowing he’d be thinking about us. There was now an empty seat in the car and then a very empty feeling when we arrived home. It immediately felt different without him. It’s still my little piece of paradise but when he’s not here it looses a bit of its glimmer, particularly in those first few days while we adjust to him not being around. The Little Travelers show signs of feeling the same way, they talk about him constantly. Where is he now? What would he be doing right now? “Daddy would laugh at that commercial wouldn’t he Mummy”. It takes all of us a few days to adjust.

Perhaps that’s why, when we decided to buy a board game for rainy days and the children suggested going to Big W at Granny’s (a four hour trip away) I agreed that it was a fabulous idea. It made no sense. We had to be back at the beach house the next day. I didn’t care. We loaded up the car, set the alarm and The Little Travelers sat with their list of towns, ready to tick them off as we drove through them.

We were at Granny’s for about 24 hours. Enough time for cuddles, giggles and ice-cream with topping. Enough time for a post bedtime glass of wine or three with Granny and Gramps, talking about everything and nothing.

On the way back to the beach house today we stopped to see my sister. For the Little Travelers this meant a hunt for Aunty Michele’s freer than free, free range chickens. These chickens couldn’t be any more free, imagine chickens with bulging backpacks and dreadlocks, chickens that play guitar and roll their own ciggies. They wander throughout the rows of orange trees that surround them, lay their eggs under the vines near the house, drink from a huge bowl on the back verandah and every night they return to sleep in their shed at the back of the block.

They were off on an adventure when we were there, there were plenty of eggs to be found, but not a chicken in sight. We looked everywhere. The Little Travelers wanted to know when they were coming home, they needed logistics.

“How do they know when to come home?”

“I don’t know” said Aunty Michele “they just always know when it’s time, they just come back….I guess because its safe”.

I thought about the board game in the back of the car.

Sometimes we just know when it’s time. We just come back. Sometimes, just because we can.

Do you have a drive? A familiar trek?

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