Back in Melbourne.
Finally and with great difficulty, both emotional and physical, I left Brisbane on Saturday morning for the big drive south.
All roads out of the city were blocked for days, but a window appeared and I had to take it as I needed to return for work.
There were amazing sights as I passed through recently flooded areas, crossing rivers with evidence of water flow up in the trees as we passed over bridges. half highways washed away, mud everywhere, sober driving and silence as we carried on into the clear country further south. Two twelve hour drives, a zig zag through southern Queensland, into New South Wales and on into Victoria.
It is a beautiful country, but as we know all too well, there is the threat of treachery.
Home now and getting into gear for the jobs a-waiting, and a year bound to be unforgettable.
Sitting with Dad before I left on Saturday, a quiet moment, holding his hand and just being there. He looks up and says, " you know mate, in the next six months or so, I'm going to discover what it's all been about".
Indeed. Though I think he already knows in the faces of people who love him as they've sat by his bed, just like me.
These times do give pause to reflect on mortality, and also of times past.
Serendipitously, I came across, in the wonderful blog of Ed Sloan, a film clip.
The music video for the Aussie band the Go Betweens, it's called 'Surfing Magazines".
I instantly knew it, as the producer of the clip had contacted me when they were making it, wanting to know if I knew of any old footage from the seventies and eighties, old home movies of surf trips and mucking around, before the throwaway, hi res video saturation of today.
Naturally, I did know of some stuff, a couple of mates being very keen though vaguely dodgy practitioners of Super8 film craft.
After delivering the footage it was all up to him, and some months later a tape arrived with thanks, and it has sat at home, unwatched except for the first time, ever since.
Looking at it now a lot of emotion wells up, as time takes its toll and life stories are written.
One of the guys in it, in particular, springs to mind. You'll see him with that perfect dead straight page boy blonde surfer look a couple of times in the film. Leon is a great friend and now is dealing, very well indeed, with multiple myeloma. Lee and his family punch well above their weight, as he is four years into it, still surfing well, still strong, and still possessed of one of the most positive personalities I have ever come across. We used to call him Neon Leon behind his back, just cos it gave us the shits a bit that he never seemed to have a bad day. Always a smile, always in the moment.
Perhaps he might find a way to bottle it, because his spirit must be partially responsible for his amazing vitality.
In concert with Dad's attitude, there are some lessons floating about there about how to attack life and squeeze the best out of even the most miserable of circumstances.
The other thing I loved about the video, though, was that glimpses of some of our best of times. We were all on the cusp years of marriage and mortgage, innocent of what that would bring and in a last, tiny self centered enjoyment of life. Our kids were yet to be born, we were still big kids, doing big kid things.
One of those big kid things for me featured in the film. A 1983 trip to Cactus in the coastal deserts of South Australia with Leon and a couple of other great mates was one of those source films. At 2:09 and 2:38 you'll see a very fuzzy me doing a couple of cutties on my 5'8" channel bottom thruster. It was blue and sprayed with fried eggs. I called it The Egg Board.
I figured it fit.