Packing the ute in a diminishing patch of shade, a wind blows hot and gusty and slams the door shut. The moisture from last night’s rain must be dried out again by now.
I take treats from the freezer to the chooks to help cool them down. The old boss is moulting, and is strangely slow to respond when I arrive with the food. I thank her for not dying in the night and giving me one more unpleasant task on this loaded day.
By the time the ute is packed, everything fitting in miraculously, but fitting better after a visit to the tip, it’s 3pm and the cafes in Gloucester are closing. Lunch finished at 2pm. Sorry. I take one last look at the main street, a row of shops baking in the blanketing heat. Two people walk on the shady side, looking for things to look at.
I drive out to the edge of town, where I think of the duck family that dwindled, week by week, as the parents led their ducklings back and forth across the road between the golf course and the shelter shed. I drive on, the heat baking my arm through the window of the ute. It’s so hot that I decided against checking the temperature. Knowing would only make it hotter. I drive past the petrol station at Stroud where we always bought our petrol. I stop for tea at the café on the expressway. I drive on, past people who I used to see every week. I am disappearing from their lives, and they are disappearing from mine.
Leaving the house I had checked the rooms, found I’d left the honey strainer in the laundry. I checked the rooms again, looked around the lounge room, thought of taking photos. But what would they show? A small rectangle of furniture, windows, curtains. They wouldn’t show the wonderment I felt every time I saw a frog on the window, one leg askew. Or a swallow on the shed roof, still for a lucky moment, its head so black and glossy, its breast and neck so russet. Photos wouldn’t show us sprawling on the lounge in winter in front of the fire. Or closing the curtains and sitting in the pleasant dim light under the fan in summer. They wouldn’t show how we would catch a glimpse of clouds or moon or stars through a window and go outside to admire billowing or light-catching or glowing or a mass of tiny lights against a black black background, and stand there, caught in thoughts of wonder, of distance and time and the universe.
I stopped checking the rooms, turned, and went out the door.