Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The *Decadent Monster*.

She never did any housework. She would garden all the morning & read in the afternoon. S.Cane

Place is important to me. There are places I walk in my dreams yet. Trafalgar Vale is one of those places. I can walk it room by room ~seeing, feeling, smelling, the house solid around me as it was when I was a child.

Odd I should remember it so well. It was not my house & it was old; a hundred years old even then. It smelt of the dust that drifted down from the ceiling in dank clouds, of overblown roses, red soil & Mama's eternal turps & thinners. The shower stood on a cement slab under the water tank & draped over its rafters lived the carpet snake that fed on the fat green tree frogs. It was geriatric having the usual problems with its plumbing & embarrassing leaks. Like its owner it was quirky. Perhaps that's why I loved it so much. The main bedroom wall sported a willow tree bearing peach blossoms. The bath got buried in the front garden. The back door was painted in black & pink & purple stripes & at one time the fridge was also painted. A garish commode sat behind a curtain on the back verandah & the rail was home to a medley of ancient chamber pots. The loo was a *thunderbox* way down at the back fence amidst black clouds of mozzies & midgies.

Trafalgar Vale, far too snooty a name for a portly old lady tied at the waist with string, was my Aunt's house. I loved it as my aunt did for its faults, being as disinclined as she was to practical considerations over ambiance & that elusive sense of being at home. Besides there was the garden.

My Aunt was a gardener before she was anything else, a love she shared with my own mother & which created a friendship between two very dissimilar women because my Aunt was no housekeeper & her methods invariably made my mother cringe. Her garden was a tangled riot of exuberant plants, gracious old trees, secretive nooks & hidden corners. I remember the front verandah for its swathes of wisteria & golden alamander. It was a house & garden that had roots, good sturdy roots running from generation to generation, where the old stories got told & retold giving me a sense of belonging that I did not find in my modern, practical, organized home were I could not find reflections of myself.

A sense of belonging is important to a child. A sense of springing from a real past, of being a cog in something larger than oneself, of moving into the future, spring from that sense of belonging & so I was careful to tell the stories as I remember them, for the people to whom the stories happened have gone now. Some of them I only know through their stories. Others I remember but as I tread the wide boards of Trafalgar Vale in my dreams they crowd about me, all the dead. As a king once said, 'I will go to them, they cannot return to me.' But I do not think they care to be forgotten.

1 comment:

Constance said...

I love that your family is SO interesting, many families are incredibly boring! In working on our family's Genealogy book I have found some interesting stories, as well as listening to my mother and paternal grandmother. My children LOVED hearing about these things when they were younger. I think you're right, there's a sense of security and stability in knowing where you come from. Otherwise, why do we hear about so many adopted children searching for their roots (something the rest of us tend to take for granted).


PS My POP would be at your Aunt's house with a jackhammer, looking for that motorcycle! When I was a kid, he bought a motorcycle and I used to love to ride with him!