The clouds gathered in the dip in the hills to the west, slowly, unobtrusively. The air became humid and the air still. A catbird squawked down by the creek. In the distance a chattering bird set up a background strum. One of the children, invisible on the hill, called out, her high voice carrying like a melody. It was Sunday afternoon.

I don’t often get a Sunday afternoon. Generally I’m in the car, heading to Sydney. The afternoon spins by on four wheels, carried by the long stream of the black road past farms, through villages, alongside a scrappy industrial area. Then across the Hunter River and onto the highway, where the traffic gets more serious but the bush can still delight you with a clump of cheerful wattle or a cliff prettied by boronia. The Hawkesbury River widens as you come down the hill, solemn with the responsibility of being so scenic. The traffic becomes more manic and you’re drawn into Sydney, into traffic lights and narrow-laned roads, vistas of clumped high-rise and the curve of the Harbour Bridge. The road is so familiar that I can daydream the whole journey when I’m meant to be concentrating on someone else’s grammatical errors and structural flaws.

The afternoon drifted along. The clouds continued to gather non-threateningly, fluffy greys and whites, then they spilled over into the valley. They spread out, light blue sky glimpsing through. As evening approached they gained some suggestions of colour, pastel mauves and pinks like an old lady’s bathroom.