Thursday, 28 August 2008

Ode to quietness

I think I’ve turned into a country bumpkin, or maybe just gently rusticated. I had to go into Ipswich today to do some shopping and was surprised at the traffic and general bustle. I learnt to drive in Sydney traffic and always laughed at people who didn’t like to drive in traffic. Now I get tense if I have to stop at more than one traffic light. And don’t get me started on parking lots. I particularly hate those. I will actually drive around searching for on-street parking rather than even enter one of those grimly echoing concrete parking mausoleums. I think I’ve seen too many crime thrillers where dreadful things happen in parking stations.

When we moved to Marburg, you could drive through North Ipswich into downtown along a quiet curving street. Just a few years later, there are four or five sets of lights, a new shopping centre and traffic everywhere. There are still plenty of trucks coming off the highway which makes for an interesting blend of shopping traffic and transport. The mayor is thrilled at the retail dollars flooding back into the CBD. I’m happy too, as long as they stay there and don’t start to stream westwards. Similarly, I’m happy for the Ripley Valley to develop as long as it means suburbia moving that direction. I wonder how long Marburg has as a country village. In five or ten years will we see acres of rooftops from our hillside? Will they install traffic lights in town? Will we be a “lifestyle” acreage block on the outskirts of suburbia?

Driving home, I could feel my shoulders relaxing as the hills came into view. Driving along at 100kph with B-doubles and highway traffic doesn’t worry me at all. It means I’m heading home. Then you see the emu farm, pull off the highway, taking seriously the sign that suggests taking the turn at 40 and slide through a cutting into downtown Marburg. In the middle of the day, it is almost abandoned. A few people have made a start at the pub, someone has pulled up for a newspaper and some milk, a dog scratches at the side of the road. Coming over our crest, a few birds circled, dust from the road billowed and the breeze picked up our neighbour’s new flag and tossed it skywards with a flash of red and blue. Otherwise all is quiet. And that’s how I like it.

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