Fireside Flames Flicker as Imagination Ignited

Mordialloc Beach in winter

Mordialloc Winter Rhythm
Haiku
Mairi Neil

Wattlebirds feast on
flowering grevillea
wake me from winter sleep

Morning winter fog
a row of ghostly gum trees
signpost railway station

Seagulls soar skywards
tossed by winter thermals
an aerial ballet

Blackbirds and magpies trill
as warm sunlight
penetrates tea-tree bush

By late afternoon at
Mordialloc Pier fishing
eskies overflow

Palm trees quiver
with chattering birds
as the sun sets

The full moon’s glow
suffused across a sea
now a mirror of calm

Winter has well and truly arrived in Mordialloc this week! Winter woollies the order of the day, electric blankets the order of the night! One of my students suggested being born in Scotland  made me less susceptible to the cold, however after 53 years, my blood must have thinned.

Although not completely acclimatised to the extremely hot weather, I feel the cold like anyone else. This week going to work, I too huddled in the waiting room at Mordialloc Railway Station rather than brave the southerly wind sending dust and leaves skittering along the platform and snatching at scarves, coats and hats.

It may be cold outside, but this is the perfect excuse to stay inside and write! Unless, of course, I take a walk along the foreshore or Mordialloc Creek for inspiration! The sky, sea and surrounds more interesting and mercurial in winter.

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Beach Park, Mordialloc

Mairi Neil

The swings creak a slow chant
joined by seagull squawks,
children’s sing-song screams.

Children clamber over the pirate ship
slipping, sliding, spewing from
all sides like the cutthroats of old.

Abandoning ship then climbing aboard
on ladders of plastic and rope
their fantasy ship anchored in a sandy sea.

Grandparents diligently move from
slide, to swing, to see-saw and back again
a day in the park serious business.

Mothers watch from afar, this daily duty
to tire the children, their conversations
interrupted to soothe, admonish, wipe a nose.

A father returns to his boyhood with delight
monitoring his offspring while steering
the child towards equipment made for two.

Naked masts and tired trawlers bob,
the sea a wavy navy ribbon unfurled,
clouds hovering bruises in a blue sky.

Children cavort beneath the foreboding blanket
bright winter clothes transforming them into
delicious Cherry Ripes, Candy Canes and lollipops.

A blustery wind has hysterical palm tree fronds
waving and the foreshore tea-tree whispering
their attention-seeking an urgent warning.

It is time to weigh anchor.

winter tree

Shadows
Mairi Neil

A plaintive song
echoes in university grounds.
Students hurry home
ignoring skeletal branches
of winter trees
and the bird’s lament.

The mournful echo
recalls dinosaur dynasties
amid the whirr of bicycle wheels,
footsteps and ring tones
mobile conversations
and iPod seclusion.

A plaintive whistle announcing dusk
before full-throated celebration
As lights douse, classroom doors close.
A melodious call to rest
as shadows deepen,
and the campus empties.

Crowded trams trundle past
bathed in artificial sunlight
beneath the star embroidered sky.
Tall grey buildings reach to conquer
the ghosts of long forgotten species
the call of birded tongue
a plaintive echo.

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Mordialloc Parliament
Mairi Neil

A winter morn in Mordialloc
cloudless sky a washed-out blue
melting frost on grassy blades
glistening bubbles of dripping dew.

A magpie family carol and cavort
breakfasting from territory marked
the wattlebirds have departed
with harsh caws and hurried darts.

From grevillea to bottlebrush
my garden their summer home
feeding on nectar’s syrupy sweetness
until chilly winter makes them roam

This garden planted as a refuge,
a tiny oasis in suburbia’s dream
native flora to encourage fauna
so many creatures––some unseen

Showy parrots squeal and screech
their sunset songs a welcome delight,
but the proud magpies debutante dance
a morning joy and favourite sight.

Summer days Enjoying the Present, Pondering the Past and Looking Forward.

Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose.

From the television show The Wonder Years
.

Yesterday, I caught up with a writer friend who can no longer come to our workshop nights because she works late afternoon shifts to fit in with caring for her 89 year old mother. It was a lovely morning exploring her suburb of Edithvale, or Edie as the locals refer to the seaside town, two train stops away from Mordialloc, on the Frankston railway line.

I enjoyed hearing her praise Edie; see her smile with pride when relating stories about her love for the place. We both appreciated the blessing of living in a beautiful and safe area. We sampled tea in two different cafés, starting off at the one by the beach and having another cuppa in one ‘up the street’. We explored and grabbed bargains at St Vinnie’s Opportunity Shop while I absorbed her local knowledge.  To learn about a place from someone who loves it, to see through their eyes, a great way to explore the unfamiliar. I was pleased she still writes and keeps a journal, recording stories, events, thoughts on books she reads and films she sees –  no lull in our conversation or awkward silence as we chatted about authors and poets. A great catch-up even although we don’t see each other as often as before!

We shared admiration for Philip Larkin, but I was able to introduce her to Roger McGough.

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Mecurial Melbourne decided to give us a taste of winter as we sat huddled in the beachside café watching the wild sea. Not alone,  venturing seaward we laughed as three preschool children entertained onlookers by racing along the beach, playing chasie, throwing seaweed at each other and exclaiming at shells and stones discovered. Having uninhibited fun as children do, in-between returning to the table to interrupt the conversation of their  mothers  and remind them to ‘Look at me, Mum! Look what I found.’

Their joie de vivre triggered a memory of the first time I visited a beach in Melbourne with my brothers and sisters. We’d migrated  from Scotland in the summer of 1962. The pictures taken at Seaford, a beach in close proximity to Edie. No doubt, we would have driven by this place, or even stopped to sample the swimming here too, all those years ago. Another newly-arrived Scots family accompanied us – the pictures show a crowd of lily-white bodies excited about being in a warm sea!

img367   first swim in oz at seaford

I thought too of the days spent on Mordialloc beach with Anne and Mary Jane.

ScanI even recalled memories of visiting Pencil Point in Largs for that one day of the year we could call summer on the west coast of Scotland! (An old Andy Stewart joke – ‘of course, I remember summer! It was a Thursday!’)

I’m sure most people, if they sit in a café by the sea, could conjure memories of childhood, or of their children growing up, so if you are a writer don’t forget your pen and notebook! Relax and enjoy the aroma of fresh tea or coffee, listen to the rhythm of music, birdsong, voices, the sea – whatever surrounds you. Write what you see, hear, touch, feel; what you think, what you remember, what story you want to share…

The Shell
Mairi Neil

The sea a bright smudge of paint
reflects the powder blue sky,
now dotted with wisps of clouds
as if a child applied sunscreen –
long smears and uneven dollops.
My daughters prance in the shallows
collect shells and splash each other.
Laughter and joie de vivre contagious.
Tiny hands tremble with excitement
and clutch a pretty conch shell.

Let’s listen to the ocean, I whisper…

Childhood fantasies return as I
hear lapping waves caress the shore,
recall the whorls and serrated edges
of a giant shell sitting by the fireplace,
in a Scottish home. A relic of the sea;
frills worn smooth by tidal dances.
Children fascinated, imagination inspired.
The salmon pink interior, examined ––
What creature abandoned this home?
The answer forgotten, but not the whoosh
and echo of ocean waves.

The girls pocket their treasures.                                                              DSC_3702
Walking home, I share the story
of a bleached skeleton from the Irish Sea
transplanted 12,000 miles to Australia,
along with other family treasures.
Science suggests ambient noise –
not the whispers of distant seas,
but in the soothing songs of shells
Life’s mystique remains, and the girls
ponder connections to distant lands,
Life’s mysteries; the vastness of the sea.

Shell Cinquain
Mairi Neil

Shell
robust, resilient
dazzling, whorling, adorning
eternal colourful valuable mysterious
Dowry

Memory is a child walking along a seashore. You never can tell what small pebble it will pick up and store away among its treasured things.

Pierce Harris, Atlanta Journal