“Hey B, do you want to live here where there’s lots of houses or at Chris and Al’s where there’s lots of trees and birds?”
“Trees and birds, mummy.”
My brother recently bought 60 acres of land out at Pine Mountain and leading up to the settlement we had a daily running commentary countdown from a certain man I live with. “Chris and Al’s place settles on Monday, Rach” — in case I may have forgotten since he last told me 24 hours ago. The day the settlement went through Joel immediately texted my brother a congratulations which, for those of you not fluent in Joel, means that he had already put on his boots and headed to the shed to pack up his camping gear. “He’s going to be out here all the time isn’t he?”, my brother asked, which I took as a rhetorical question and just laughed.
Joel fixed whipper snippers, put together wheelbarrows and scaled roof tops to help install ariels all weekend because “If we’re useful then we won’t overstay our welcome, Rach. They’ll want us out here all the time!”.
The man lives for this stuff.
I recently entered a competition run by one of my photography idols for a place in her photography workshop in the states later this year. As part of our entry, she asked us to answer why art matters to us and what we hoped to breathe into the world through our photography.
The common thread which ran between everyone’s entires was the same, always.
That life is precious. That life goes so fast. That we don’t want to forget. And not the grandiose moments like birth stories and Christmases, but the in between, the everyday – the spaghetti sauce smudged in cheeks, the whispy bits of messy hair, the scrapped knees and soft skin, the tiny toes and the ragged favourite toys which will one day be replaced.
The who we are.
And eventually, the who we were.
One entry quoted Ann Voskamp: “Time’s this precious currency and only the slow spend it wise enough to be rich.” In one way or another, the reason photography mattered to each of them was so they could slow down and take it in – the tiny details we so often overlook. The very act of making art makes life more beautiful and we more grateful. In the end, it’s not even about the photograph, it’s about who we become by taking it.
One of my favourite things said was this: “When love is the medium, making art feels transcendent.” I nodded my head and thought yes. That’s exactly it.
So my darling children, here was our weekend. The in-between that will one day be forgotten. The whispy hair and the snails you collected. The dirt-covered feet and the butterflies you chased. A little slice of heaven sent to buffer all the hard and turn it holy.
Your favourite bits:
We crouched down on all fours and searched for snails in the dirt – stacks of them. You loved the baby ones the most and counted eleven. We poured a tiny bit of water around them to encourage them out of their shells and you loved watching them unravel, eyes poking out and beginning to move.
Your dad came up with this while I was out grabbing coffee. I pulled into the driveway and you guys scrambled down the hill in the wheelbarrow shrieking and laughing and calling out Mama! and was one of those scenes of your childhood I so love watching. Simple joys, unbridled innocence, just being together.
We went on a tree hunt all over the property to find the best trees to climb and seeing you up there got me excited for summer camping trips here and all the childhood memories you’ll make in this place.
Sleeping in the loft.
You climbed those loft ladders like you meant business, pushing us away and telling us you can do it on your own. The charm of Chris and Al’s little cottage rubbed off on us all but the loft was definitely your favourite part.
Me and your dad stayed in the cottage to talk while you guys grabbed torches and when on a night walk with Chris and Al to find animals and treasures. This snake skin was your favourite find.
Cheese and bikkies at sunset.
The grass was “too grassy” according to Ella but once we made it to the top of our sunset hill and plonked some cheese in front of you sweetie, there were no more complaints.
And Billy, you were in your total element. Grabbing sticks, thrashing them around, running ahead, exploring, babbling away in your happy little voice.
There will be so many more memories here. Joel will make sure of it.
“I want to see beauty. In the ugly, in the sink, in the suffering, in the daily, in all the days before I die, the moments before I sleep.”
― Ann Voskamp,