Looking forward to merry Christmas
Well! We have our road map to freedom and, from some of the correspondence I received last week, not a day too soon. (For obvious reasons I haven’t included these emails or texts in the column.) It seems that it wasn’t anything I wrote that caused the response, instead it was Henley’s remarkable poem Invictus. I hope everyone is feeling more hopeful and can now look forward to Christmas.
However, there are a couple of things from last week that I would like to tell you about.
In the ‘Under the clock’ segment, I ran an article from September 1924 and a photo of the lake bed in 1929. I asked Rodney Braithwaite — this newspaper’s awardwinning photographer and award-winning ‘nice person’ — if he had a recent shot of the lake, just as a contrast to how it started. He said ‘Yes. No problem. You’ll have it shortly.’ Then he went to the lake and took this beautiful photograph, for which there was no space on the page. However, I’m sure you’ll agree that it is far too good to waste — so here it is.
I also received an email from Pat:
Hi Marnie, thanks for the great reading. I am more at home these 18 months and have enjoyed the Shepp News delivered daily for many years and though digitally subscribed, I enjoy finding my paper and keeping cuttings in my big file.
Last week, I enjoyed your foray to Melbourne comments about thoughts to move there. My husband and I, both Melbourne suburbs born and educated, moved to Shepp in 1964 and though Bernie died in 2009, we both said we would never want to live anywhere else. Such a great sense of community cooperation here as witnessed again with this latest pandemic outbreak. Our three sons and families are away in Geelong, Kensington and Los Angeles, with my eldest granddaughter and 2 great grandchildren in LA, one great-grandson and another coming in Mooroopna in Jan and another new greatgrandson in Sydney. Our two daughters and families have never lived away, so that is great for me. The boys are amazing, teaching me how to Zoom and of course, FaceTime is always one most used locally and away as well during lockdowns. I thank my lucky stars for social technology at this time, and phone network calls with friends and family here and away. I picked up on your husband's song “I love those dear folk” and now have Bing Crosby on my playlist. Such an appropriate song for my feelings. Does he have a crooning voice?
I didn’t intend this to be so long but wanted to thank you.
Pat was responding to Town Talk September 7 but I didn’t receive her email until too late for last week. We have exchanged several emails since then and she is comfortable with us including her email in the column.
Also, I mentioned my three favourite things (Sept. 14) — eating my children and not using commas. And had this response from Roger. I hadn’t heard from him for some time and have missed his (always challenging) responses to Town Talk e.g.
Hello Marnie, Was thinking with your favourite things in Town talk. Have you tried stir frying them? Tend to be a bit tough otherwise. A call out for recipes may be the go. Regards, Roger
Some months ago, Roger and I had an ongoing email discussion about how long humanity had been on the planet — and whether a female-governed society ever existed. I didn’t include it all because, in the end, we weren’t sure who had won the argument — and it was too long. Anyway, it was good to hear from him again.
Last week, I also asked if our readers had gained anything that could be considered positive, from the lockdown experience. Here is a response from Meredith.
You asked if we have gained anything from the lockdown. I have lived in Shepparton for 53 years, having been born here and I have gained a new appreciation for our community. When thousands of us were in isolation, I realised how important each person is to our lives. No grocery delivery, not even click and collect for a while. The meal ordering service was disrupted too. Almost 40 restaurants weren’t available. People were missing from pharmacies. Everything was under stress. You mention ‘community’ often and I have never given it any thought — until now. Everybody plays a part, everyone is important. Have I used my commas correctly?
You are quite right, Meredith; I do mention ‘community’ from time to time. And it is not just the broader community of Greater Shepparton that I think is important — but the hundreds of smaller communities that make up the fabric of our district and of our lives. For instance, when Pat and I were exchanging emails, we discovered that we were both a part of the community of STAG. and, in fact, it was the Shepparton Theatre Arts Group that first stirred my awareness of what ‘community’ (common unity) means.
To return to the topic, a community can support and influence. With passion, it can bring about change and, I say with confidence, that STAG changed me (and I’m sure it is just as strong today). The next community to influence me — and change my life — was this newspaper.
We are all a part of one of these communities — school, religious, sport, work, art, charity, whatever. And, we are all a part of the broader community; Meredith is correct when she says that each of us matters, everyone is important. And we have just seen a very special example of how a strong community can work for the greater good.
Under the clock January 5, 1914
A bushfire broke out in the parish of Kaarimba, some miles from Nathalia, the other day. It was due to the use of phosphorised pollard by a landholder, in the destruction of rabbits. On the properties of Messrs Breen, O’Rourke, and the Highworth Estate some 300 acres of grass and some miles of fencing were destroyed. A thunderstorm extinguished the fire in the grass, but many trees were left burning, and the fire, fanned by a strong southwesterly breeze, broke out afresh, and made towards the country leased by Mr T.J. Dripps and the property of Messrs W. Flanner, Twit, and others, in which wheat crops, in various stages of harvesting, were standing. Senior-constable Brown, Mounted Constable Fenton, and many of the townspeople went out to assist in extinguishing the fire. Messrs Muntz Brothers took the firefighters in their motor cars.
My comment: It seems that, with commas, we have a famine or a feast. Please also note the spelling of the Twit family name. I’m wondering if it was correct, at that time.
From the Town Square
● If you’d enjoy a short drive, why not go to Murchison to hear the bells ring? — next Tuesday, September 28. Once again, the bells of the Anglican Church, Uniting Church and the Primary School will ring to celebrate the anniversary of the Murchison Meteorite landing, 52 years ago. As the (relatively new) tradition dictates, the bells will chime at 10.58 am, 52 times.
Last year, with our local government area in lockdown, and a function unable to proceed, innovative Murchisonians (I think I just made up that word but it beats Murchites!) suggested the bells could tell the story. It was much appreciated — and the decision was made to do it again! That’s how traditions are born.
Why not grab a coffee and sit in the park, or by the river — and enjoy? It’s such a pretty part of our world.
● It’s also appropriate to remind you about the Isa Kelly exhibition, which is open again at Shepparton Art Museum. This fine local artist painted anything that interested her and, as a result, the exhibition offers something for everyone. If you are interested in our history and the way our town used to look, it is not to be missed. It’s open Tuesday to Saturday, noon to 5 pm. $5 entry.
Remember that ‘Ageing gracefully is a nice way of saying you're slowly looking worse’.
Keep smiling — and may it be easy, my friends. — Marnie