Yesterday I took state highway 45 (surf highway!) out of town, around the coast, to where I grew up. The car became a time machine and I rocketed past the landmarks of my history.
It’s always like this, every time I traverse that path I’m reminded of the details of my childhood, my teenage years, the foundations of who I am.
This occasion was sadder than normal – I was attending the funeral of one of my best friends father. I’ve known her, known him, since high school. He’s not old enough to have passed, but that’s life sometimes.
I was reminded of all the things I loved about growing up a ‘coastie’. The arctic blast of wind, straight off the mountain after a fresh dump of snow. The windswept trees, pushed into abnormal shapes, some stripped bare, pointing their naked branches at the striking blue sky in accusation. The beautiful shape of the ranges, the roll of the hills, the clusters of rock strewn across the paddocks as though giants had been playing marbles.
I drove past the two blue silos before Oakura. In my teens I told myself the story about the farmer and his wife, who lured travelers off the highway. They’d murder them and keep them stacked in those silos, no-one the wiser.
And then there was the barn whose round roof poked over the top of a hill. In my childhood I was convinced it was the easter bunnies hot air balloon. Who knows why it was there every day. Or why they flied in hot air balloons. It was one of my truths, and it took many years to accept that actually, it was just the roof of a barn…
Everything around here inspires me, and I love to time travel and remember the things that shaped me into the creative person I am today. This is a beautiful country, and I draw so much from it. The raw beauty I find in my natural environment is something that I try to bring to my writing. That clarity, that sense of reality, even though the worlds and characters I create are fictional.
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