Sunday, December 5, 2010

Passport photo

The face showed no emotion as it stared at me. Twin faces exactly alike, apart from a blue-black mark across the nose and upper cheek on the left, showed not as much as a blink of an eye or a twitch of a smile as they observed. I had seen that face recently and fleetingly wondered what such an expressionless demeanor hid. There was a resemblance in the long narrow features to my late aunt, a favourite aunt who found time in her long life to play an important part in the childhood of her nieces and nephews, even if they lived at the other end of the nation. Her long hair was plaited and wound around the crown. The face that gazed from the oblong strip did not show plaits, but the hair was drawn back and secured out of sight, showing ears with earrings, small pearls that gave the appearance of belonging to a woman of conservative taste. A white and black blouse peeked, decorously, above the slightly plunging neckline of a melon knitted jacket.

I wondered if others realised that the face in the photograph had a personality, was animated with a well-honed sense of humour, and found the procedure of applying for and obtaining a passport, that would be her identification for the next five years, tiresome. I knew. Those twin faces printed on shiny photograph paper had been taken at the post office a few days earlier. Showing of teeth, as in a smile, was out. Wearing glasses was frowned upon, and as I clutched my spectacles, with narrow frames, in my lap, hidden from the camera, I was conscious of little … my eyes are not what they used to be when I was younger.

As I studied the photo I found it difficult to believe the old face was mine. A few weeks ago that same face had caught my eye through the side rear view window of a car I was passenger in. For a moment I frowned trying to recollect where I had seen that woman before. She looked cold and sad and lonely. Surely it wasn’t me? The face in the photos didn’t look cold, nor sad, nor lonely, just expressionless. However it was necessary for me to renew my passport. I had no immediate plans to travel, but being a resident in a country not of my birth necessitated the holding of a recognizable, by the authorities, form of identification. Five years this unflattering photo will serve as my official identification. Whenever I travel abroad, whenever I need to prove my identity, this photo will be peered at by whoever is asking.

Personally I would prefer to have a photo, for official purposes that showed me smiling. I like smiling. It is a friendly emotion and one that opens an individual to participating in all types of conversations, especially on public transport, which I use when a journey of several hours is undertaken. Here in Western Australia long journeys are the norm and when I feel the need to visit family and friends in my homeland my passport will come into its own.

I arrived in Australia several winters ago. Winter in Australia is like a cool summer in New Zealand, and that first winter was as unlike any winter I had ever experienced in New Zealand. There were no icicles with their cold crystals clinging to the insides of the bedroom window and no need to have numerous layers of bedding weighing down on my sleeping body as I attempted to keep warm, there was no coal range providing a welcome warmth to the kitchen, there were no clothes draped on a wooden clothes horse, nor frozen ground that made digging carrots or parsnips a finger numbing exercise, and no sheets as stiff as boards crackling as a bone chilling breeze whipped them against the adjoining towels or carefully hidden underwear that competed for space with socks and face cloths on an inner line.

Summer crept upon us relentlessly, its heat and flies and dust a new experience. Thankfully I had a room to call my own, a room that sported an air con system. I had been pre-warned not to indulge in the cool benefits of air con until the temperature reached at least 35 degrees. I persevered. As the morning warmed and the sun rose in the clear blue sky I doggedly stayed out of its direct rays, drew drapes and gradually adjusted to Australian summers.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Peek - a - boo

Upon our return from several days 'doon sooth', or in English, the southern city, we were almost pleasantly surprised that the surviving four of the original capsicum plants, while drooping due to the heat in our absence, were at least still green. Several heavy applications of water have brought them back to the lush, healthy, state of two weeks ago.

It was obvious strong winds had blown during that ten days; the sand was smooth, the fallen gum leaves plentiful, and small twigs lay on the ground.

For the first two days the absence of signs of the presence of the tawny frog mouths disappointed me. This morning, as I made what is a morning pilgrimage peering into low hanging branches of the heavily-barked gum trees, the usual favoured habitat of the tawny frog mouth family, there perched on a couple of branches sat the three birds. I had imagined 'baby' would have been given final flying lessons and sent off into the wide blue yonder. It is still home with the parents ... perhaps a modern tawny frog mouth who, like the human young of today, prefer to stay home with the parents ... though I suspect it's survival skills need some further updating. I must confess; I am thrilled. The family of tawny frog mouths provide wonderful moments as they appear to be not in the least concerned with my attention. Not that I ever touch them, nor do I attempt to get closer than ground distance from them. That respect is acknowledged by their apparent liking of living near to us.

As I inspected the capsicum plants I noticed a small excavation nearby. I had taken note of similar excavations around but did not know exactly what they were.

The following morning an answer was provided! As the sun rose in the morning sky a small lizard poked it's head from the excavation. Moments later this little creature lay half-sprawled, like a beach baby on a Hawaiian printed towel at the beach on a hot Sunday. This was a camera moment!

Almost daily encounters with the wild life of this area not only keep me entertained, but enthralled.