Tuesday, 27 December 2011


Figure after all that charging around the globe on Christmas Eve, Santa’s sleigh pullers were hanging out for a few days off in a warmer climate. Dancer or Prancer or one of the bunch have been in my front yard. How can I tell? Well, they have rather distinctive poo, very easy to distinguish who’s paid a visit in the middle of the night.

Then as I came around the corner into the village after midnight following my Boxing Day family get together I caught another couple of them in my headlights as they sprinted across the street and headed for the safety of the bush. They must’ve worked out they could pretty much blend in with the locals and go undetected until it was time to go home.

That was about sixty seconds after almost mowing down three decent sized wallabies who decided to be reckless and cut me off as I headed up the mountain. Guess they’d had a little too much festive fare and were egging each other on to play chicken. Wonder what they’ll get up to on New Year’s Eve.

Mild summer nights in Tasmania can become something of an obstacle course as the resident wildlife decides to venture out of the bush, graze by the roadside or find what roadkill has turned up during the day on which to have a midnight feast before some other creature decides to get in on the act. Possums are the most common wanderers, almost a slalom course in places, but unfortunately the Tassie Devil we used to see frequently is now a rare sight.

Daytime sightings in the past couple of days have been equally entertaining. The biggest hare I have ever seen, and I’m talking back legs as long as Elle McPherson’s, wandered leisurely up the middle of the road out front yesterday, quite unperturbed. He has us sussed out I think, knows there are no cats around and all the dogs are in their yards so he has the run of the place.

Then there’s the magpie with the deformed leg and tufts of feathers at the sides of his face who’s been hanging around for a couple of weeks. Looks like one of the penguins from Happy Feet, and as he spends most of his time squatting on the ground he actually looks like a fat little relative of his Antarctic brothers. Took pity on him and thought I’d give him some food and water whereupon he flew off, so he doesn’t have any trouble in that area. Seems that survival of the fittest hasn’t disadvantaged him any.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011


Joseph headed on boldly down the main street of the village, with Mary somewhat more tentative, slowing down for contractions in their quest to find a room for the night, not alone mind you, but with angels, shepherds, kings and suitably robed local riff raff in tow as well as visitors who had dropped in during the afternoon for Poatina’s first Christmas market.

Their first attempt was thwarted by the deaf innkeeper who kept offering them a broom instead of a room, and responded to their request for somewhere to stay with an offer of hay. Amid constant miscommunication and much hilarity from onlookers, he directed them across the road to the motel, so the weary travellers headed off with a glimmer of hope.

Paying more attention to the constantly ringing phone than their plight, the motel manager was justifiably booed and jeered by the crowd as he turned Mary and Joseph away and sent them packing to the stable on the village green. With more puffing and panting from Mary, they finally arrived at their destination and miraculously produced a baby in the fastest labour ever witnessed under trying circumstances. Not exactly much privacy in an open stable.

With the resident sheep bleating in all the right places, the angels and shepherds did their bit, the kings came bearing gifts of coffee, Avon perfume and Old Spice, and the happy family courtesy of Luke & Ali & little Aimee beamed happily throughout.

Traditions are something we consider as having been around for generations, sometimes centuries, events and rituals instigated to serve us as we attempt to express our personal beliefs as well as our communal life together.

They have the power to define us, to help us express who we are as people and communities and nations. Unfortunately, they can also confine us, constricting us into rigid systems of behaviour which over time feel alien to who we are and how we want to be seen. At such times we often find ourselves prevailing against these traditions, rejecting them, but at the same time feeling unable to replace them with something more meaningful.

Somewhere along the way a tradition has a starting point, and for this little village in the heart of Tasmania our annual Advent Pageant, complete with Aussie barbecue and market and loads of humour as the Christmas story is narrated and re-enacted, is one of the year’s highlights. It has become part of Poatina’s “story,” an event which places Christ at the heart of village life, a tradition which actually liberates people to cast off their daily persona, dress up, laugh and enjoy the company of others while hearing once again of the birth of Jesus.

As Christmas Day approaches and the machinery of getting everything done in time goes into overdrive, I find it helpful to reflect on the experience of Mary and Joseph’s epic journey and struggle to bring their child into the world in far from ideal circumstances. We can make Christmas so complicated, where really it should be so simple. Recognising Christ’s birth for what it is…God’s gift to us.

Sunday, 4 December 2011


It was supposed to be Bella’s day, and for her 6th birthday she certainly did celebrate both with her school friends at a Hungry Jacks lunch, then with the extended family later in the day. Grandson Zandar had other ideas though, so to join in the celebratory mood and get in on the act, borrowed his big sister’s dress ups and was adamant he was a princess.

With music playing, off he whirled into pink dizziness, living the moment, oblivious to the constraints of gender stereotyping. Wore the dress for the rest of the day, wasn’t a simple job extracting him from it to get him into his PJs.

Bella played mum to her new little twin cousins, relishing the cuddles and being very responsible with them. Zandar on the other hand didn’t want to give Brodie back after his cuddle, he’s definitely not into sharing at the moment, and had to be extricated from the baby as well, much to his indignation.

Amidst all the new presents and girlie paraphernalia, the 1960s dress up wig brought by her Uncle Kris went on everyone but Bella, there was no way she was putting that on, I mean, really, it wasn’t pink, just what was Kris thinking.

I’m continually fascinated watching my grandchildren as they grow and develop, seeing bewilderment become triumph as they achieve significant milestones, be it socially, physically, emotionally or academically. Seeing their personalities emerge and wondering how they become who they are is always an intriguing process.

Time passes all too soon, and one of the greatest gifts we can offer our children is permission to be a child. As adults we can see only too readily in retrospect how our own spontaneity and sense of wonder goes missing as we supposedly ‘grow up’ and assume more important responsibilities. Little wonder we crave moments of respite from the daily grind to rejuvenate our spirits, and pursue creative outlets to fulfill our need for self expression.

Grow up we must, but nurturing all of who we are is not always a simple undertaking. The spirit of childhood shouldn’t be left behind as we grow beyond those early years, and re-experiencing it through our own children and grandchildren is not only a lasting investment in our relationships with them, but a blessing for us as we dare to seek out new adventures for ourselves.