In amongst all the current stories emanating from the centenary of the Gallipoli landing, my thoughts go back to the war that followed; a war that involved Australians more or less on home soil. The Second World War, that ended 70 years ago this coming August, had been a battle that had progressed from Europe to the Pacific as the Japanese made their way down the Malayan Peninsula. Thousands of Australians were taken as prisoners of the Japanese when they took over Singapore. It was therefore understandable that Australians, in general, feared the Japanese.
In early 1945, while the war was still raging, my older sister Fay started school.
In her first days at school, Fay and the other little school children never felt really safe. There was always the fear of ‘the Japs’. The Japs put fear into small Australian children. It was the Japs that many of their fathers were fighting.
On the school oval, beside a line of large cypress trees, there was a row of trenches, dug for the protection of the small students, who had been instructed to assemble in the holes, should something happen. Just what might happen was never clearly explained to the children, but their little minds imagined scenes of bombing planes and attacking soldiers.
At first Fay and her little companions expected Australian soldiers to be resident in the trenches, but they never saw any. Those who were courageous enough to venture near the excavations, returned with reports of seeing nothing but spiders living there. Spiders were nearly as frightening as soldiers or Japs, and so terror reigned quietly for a variety of reasons, in the minds of not only the little five-year-olds, but all the other girls at the school.
There was another terror of Japs for Fay. Our grandfather who lived in East Malvern was considered too old to be enlisted into the army and was made a member of the Home Guard. He would regularly have to attend parade and training at the East Malvern sports ground.
The adults would explain that Granddad was just “going off to fight the Japs.”
Fay knew the place where Grandad was going and so imagined the oval swarming with Japs, again associated with huge cypress trees, which were growing as windbreaks around the ground.
At every visit to her grandparents’ home, little Fay held her breath with fear on passing by the sports ground. That there were no Japs there was never explained to her.
I won’t be around to commemorate the centenary of the Second World War, but I would like the stories of how it affected even the smallest Australians to be remembered.
We used often to walk along the beach on the Mornington Peninsula – beachcombing, I suppose it was.
And as we walked, we would pick up these smooth, many coloured fragments of glass. For decades this was an activity involving pleasant sea-side walks of almost meditative quality. Our eyes became adjusted to picking out the washed up glass pieces in amongst the sand and shells.
And our collection grew.
The water-filled jar in this picture is one of two jars in which we saved our pretty treasures. The appearance of this jar gives an indication of its age. How long ago must it have been that my (then) small (and growing) children helped to gather up these fragments?
Years, years and years.
My adult daughter has recently resumed an interest in the glass pieces, as she thinks that they might contribute towards making some captivating modern jewellery.
I’m not so sure.
I’m also not sure that I wish to have these mementoes from long ago beach walks to be made into something that may not be appreciated for their age and meaningfulness. They seem more worthy to me.
Each piece of glass must have its own story to tell of long ago. Some may have been in the sea for decades, coming and going with the tides. I wonder how many of them began as shards - or were they maybe just broken bottles dropped along the shoreline? And how many began their journey landwards from ships at sea.
If only they could talk!
Sadly, smooth coloured glass fragments don’t seem to be as easily found along beaches any more. As much as glass shards must have (originally) presented a danger to bare feet in the sand, the modern day washed up, partially crushed, soft drink cans and the horrendous supply of waste plastic pieces present far more danger now.
A pity that!
The end of the broken wrist journey – well, almost. Still some physiotherapy to contend with and one more hospital visit.
Today was the day for some screaming buzz saw fun. The hospital technician at the Fracture Clinic showed me how the saw would not hurt my skin or flesh at all, by demonstrating on his own hand and arm. “Buzz, buzz, Weeee!” it screamed. The noise was a little off-putting, but all was well; my arm survived intact and the cast came off quite easily, revealing a decidedly skinnier arm, with unattractive dry, peeling skin mostly on my palm.
I was unprepared for the pain that was still present but an X-ray and a further consultation with the orthopaedic doctor assured me that it was a normal feeling. The X-ray had shown that the fracture (actually 2 fractures) had healed well, so that was good news. It should be totally better by about 10 weeks from now. (Oh...)
Now to arrange some physio and to become used to, once more, being able to use two hands.
How great it will be to have a shower without having one arm encased in a plastic bag. Hooray!
Hopefully this will be my last post on the subject of a fractured bone. Sorry about the boring whinge!
Last week someone asked me what season it was and I had to stop and think.
There is no visible autumn in the Gold Coast, Queensland.
In our ‘home state’ of Victoria, the trees would have recently been at their most beautiful golden, red and orange best and I would have been keeping warm on chilly mornings raking up piles of fallen leaves ready for the compost pile. But here, in Queensland, there are no glorious autumn-toned trees. Everything in the garden is much the same as always in appearance. And I guess there’s nothing wrong with that. At least it’s reliable!
I have just received an email from one of my sisters in Victoria telling me about the delicious new season’s apples she is picking off her three apple trees. I feel more than a twinge of envy! We had two apple trees in Victoria: the Golden Delicious one produced apples that were beyond DELICIOUS. Picked and eaten, straight from the tree, Golden Delicious apples are wonders of juicy, flavoursome delight! AND I MISS THEM.
Our other apple tree was a Jonathan variety: a smaller apple – and mostly red - but nearly as yummy, especially when eaten freshly picked.
We are told that Queensland has an apple growing area and I intend to find it!
In Victoria, as well as our home grown variety, we used to buy Fuji apples direct from the orchard, only a 30 minutes’ drive away. Oh, bliss – to bite into a cool fresh Fuji…swoon!
I have shopped here in local fruit markets. I have shopped in nearby supermarkets in our area. And I have bought apples of several different varieties – some of which were labelled as ‘new season’s’… but heck, what a disappointment they have all been.
So, off to search Google about the Gold Coast’s apple growing areas. And then to set the GPS to drive to an orchard in a desperate search for fresh, truly new season’s, autumn-ripening apples.
By the way, the word ‘autumn’, as in all names of seasons, does not need a capital letter. I know I’m being pedantic, but….(and I quote):
Seasons, such as winter, spring, summer and autumn (fall), do not require capitalization because they are generic nouns. Some people may confuse these words as being proper nouns and try to capitalize them using that rule of capitalization.
Capitalization of Seasons - English Grammar Rules & Usage
Off on an apple search…
And, who am I to complain? All I have is a fractured wrist in a plaster cast and I think I have a right to complain, because it has been a bit painful at times and is hampering my daily activities.
IN THE MEANTIME… one of my sisters is recovering from radiation treatment received for two brain tumours. They are not cancerous but, because of their position they cannot be surgically removed. All that can be done is to halt their growth. But their presence is causing her balance and memory problems as well as some pain.
Another of my sisters is coping with a husband who is being treated for an aggressive cancer in his jaw. So far surgeons have removed the right side of his lower jaw and have replaced it with bone from his leg, followed by major plastic surgery. He is unable to eat and is being ‘fed’ through a PEG directly into his stomach. The next operation he has to endure involves making a better functioning mouth and jaw for him, so that he may be able to eat and talk. Every day he wonders how he can possibly put up with more procedures and pain.
THEN there’s ….my nephew (and God son) who has been battling a THREE YEAR course of treatment for bowel and bladder cancer. He has endured surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatment, with all its accompanying sickness and debilitation, whilst trying to maintain a job and a family life with his wife and small son.
MEANWHILE…one of my dearest friends, recently treated for breast cancer, has just been told that another ‘suspicious lump’ has turned up on the latest screening.
AND THEN… my long-time friend (we’ve been friends since schooldays) has been visiting her son in hospital every day where he is being treated with ECT (electro convulsive therapy) three days a week – absolute drastic treatment for his bi-polar condition.
AND THAT is just in my immediate circle of family and friends.
To open the newspaper or check the news online provides me with enough tragedy to make me weep - and to hang my head in shame for even contemplating a whinge about a cracked bone in my wrist!
Oh, happy day!
I choose to comment on social issues and write creatively on a variety of subjects - for a variety of audiences.