Wide Brown Water
Posted on March 6, 2013
All throughout the summer that I was pregnant with Perry, I had a visceral craving to swim in wide brown waters. It wasn’t the ocean that my body felt bereft of, but the lakes and rivers that I grew up with. I craved that sweet, cold stillness, and the way that the surface layer in a lake – amber coloured and mottled with light – is warm, but down below that is a delicious chill.
I never got to have that swim, having to make do with the tumbling salt of Kiama, which though lovely, was not quite the same thing.
This weekend is the long weekend in Victoria, and so we will go to Rushworth, but we are also going to have a day in Yarrawonga and Mulwala. My mother comes from Mulwala, and when I was a little girl, my grandfather and his second wife lived in a house which backed onto Lake Mulwala. The driveway became a boat ramp, treacherous with algae underfoot, and there was a little jetty, jutting off the back of the lawn. Lake Mulwala with all of her bare, ghostly trees was a special treat to me, a very different land to the mallee town where we lived.
I am so looking forward to swimming in those waters on Sunday.
When I mentioned to my mother yesterday, that I wanted to go on this little side trip, and perhaps she might like to come too, she said yes. She said that it was fifty years today since her mother died. Obviously I never knew my maternal grandmother, but I have always had a sense of her in my life. She was the girl twin who came before me. If my baby had have been a girl, she would have been given the middle name of Frances, for that too young lost grandmother. I think of a hand tinted photograph of her in my mothers house, thigh deep in the lake, beneath the ubiquitous weeping willows, and I wonder if she ever swam in salty ocean waters, and if she did, did it make her crave instead, those mineral brown waters of her home?
This kind of water is in my blood. It is the bodies of water which flow through the inlands, slaking the thirst of the nation, brown and rich with the sediment of the land beneath. It connects my homelands, vein-like, and nourishes my imagination and the stories that I tell. It is no wonder that I felt such strong cravings for it while Perry grew within me.