Last night I went running in the twilight. As the sun slipped behind the hills everything went golden for a moment and then it was as if a light had been switched off. As I jogged along the road the air was balmy and I was surrounded by the smell of sun-warmed grass. Then suddenly I would plunge through a bubble of chilled air and emerge out the other side to warmth. It was almost surreal and not just because I was finally out jogging again after so many months.
Late afternoon and evening are my favourite times to be outside. The light, the soft focus, the hills fading into not darkness, but darker haze. All these come together in a kind of perfection. Then across the hills and in the valley the lights springing on – each one representing people living their lives.
I think you really need these times of perfect solitude, times to reflect on the physical world, to concentrate only on placing one foot in front of the other and breathing. Somehow they provide internal breathing space.
Out of breath I slowly climbed our long steep driveway. At the top our house glowed. I could have been anyone returning home after a long day. I wondered if Sophie Jaeckel had ever come home in the darkness or if she would always have been the one waiting inside for her men to come home. I thought about Helen Woolcock’s argument that Queensland immigration policy resulted in a modern society that was aggressive, fearful, reckless and conservative – remnants of the frontier mentality. Illustrating this, only that day, I had been told that the role of women was to be wives and mothers. I wonder how Sophie, and her daughters, Emilie and Anna coped with the frontier mentality. Did Michael, Carl and Anders epitomise this mentality? How did the family cope emotionally and socially with the colony?
I opened the door and stepped back into my life: out of breath, aching of muscle but bursting with ideas.